When I asked Ginny for her thoughts on her birthday cake, she said, “It was chocolate and it was really good and you did a really good job on the decorating.  And it was very, very rich.”  In her defense, she followed this up with, “I’m going to go to bed before I fall over.”  So if her review fails to ring true in any sense, we’ll just blame it on that.  :-)

This recipe comes to me through Ginny’s mother, who made the gluten version for Ginny’s birthday party last year (before Ginny was diagnosed and went GF herself).  My brother and I were both there, but he hadn’t gone on the diet yet, so when everybody gushed about how good the cake was, I asked him — is this worth getting the recipe for and adapting so we can make it?  And the answer was an unequivocal yes.

The cake wasn’t hard at all to adapt; the ganache filling and the frosting didn’t even need to be adapted.  The end result is incredibly rich and delightfully chocolatey, and in my humble opinion best served with some vanilla (or peanut butter!) ice cream.  It’s really three recipes in one, of course — the frosting, the ganache, and the cake itself — so I’ll present it that way to make things as clear as possible.  Generally speaking, you want to make the cake early in the morning or the day before you need it so it has plenty of time to cool, then make the ganache at least an hour before you need it for the same reason, then make the frosting last.

GF Ganache-Filled Chocolate Cake

Yield:  1 2-layer 9-inch cake

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup dough mix
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Also, start your cup of water heating on the stove, since you’ll want it at a nice boil once it’s time to add it in (down in step #3).  Thirdly, go ahead and grease and dust two 9-inch cake pans.  You can “flour” them with either dough mix or cocoa powder, either works, but make sure they’re well-dusted or you’re gonna have a really hard time getting your cake rounds out once they’re baked.

2.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients:  sugar, dough mix, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Once those are stirred together, add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat the resulting mixture on medium speed for a few minutes.  The results will look like this:

3.  Once the water’s boiling, add it to the stand mixer and stir it in.  The batter will be really thin, but don’t worry, it’s supposed to be!  Pour half the batter into each cake pan (which should be greased and “floured,” in case you forgot!), like so:

4.  Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully move them to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely — this takes several hours.

That’s all for the cake itself.  Next up is the ganache filling, which should be ready a little while before it’s actually time to build and frost the cake, since it needs to sit in the fridge and cool some.

Ganache Filling

Ingredients:

  • 3/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, and sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir until the sugar’s dissolved.  Keep an eye on it; if it tries to boil over, you’ll have very little time to stop it.

2.  While the saucepan cooks, grab a small-to-medium size bowl and put the chocolate chips in it.  Pour the finished cream mixture over the chips and let it sit for a few minutes; this lets the heat of the cream melt the chocolate without burning it.  Stir the mixture patiently until it’s completely homogeneous and smooth.

3.  Put the finished ganache in the fridge to cool for at least half an hour.  When it’s time to fill the cake, just whip it up a bit to make it creamy and spreadable.  You might have a little too much ganache, you might not; if you do, it’s better to only use just enough to fill the cake, or else your layers will slide around and not want to stay stuck together when you frost them.

And now, last but certainly not least, the frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (a.ka.a confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1/3 cup milk (give or take)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to combine the melted butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla.

2.  Next, alternately add the powdered sugar and milk in small increments, beating the frosting with the whisk attachment after each addition, until all the powdered sugar’s been added.  You may or may not use all the milk, and in fact might want a touch more milk than the entire 1/3 cup — your goal is a nice, spreadable consistency that uses all the powdered sugar (which makes sure the frosting’s sweet enough).  It’s a bit of a patient process, but really very easy to do.

Now you just have to assemble the cake, which is easy and fun if you’re just patient and gentle with it:  Put the first (fully cooled) cake round on the serving platter, spread the ganache over it, put the second cake round on top of the ganache, then frost the whole thing and decorate it however you like.  I could go on and on about how it should look at each stage of the process, but really, a picture’s worth a thousand words:

Serve and enjoy.  :-)