February: Devil’s Food Cake

The February recipe for my 2012 Cooking Challenge is Nigella Lawson’s Devil’s Food Cake. It’s a cake. It’s made of chocolate. It doesn’t take  that much convincing for me to make it.

I will admit, I was a little daunted, though. For some reason, to me, there’s a lot less room for error in baking a cake versus, say, baking cookies. I just think that a lot more could go wrong: the cake could be too dry, or undercooked (on the other hand I would still eat undercooked cookies), it could be uneven or wobbly.

The frosting for this recipe seemed to be particularly tricky. Commenters on Nigella’s site and on the FoodNetwork page seemed to have a little trouble with getting it to the right consistency.  Once everything was mixed though, I didn’t care if  it turned out too runny to use, there was no way in hell this wasn’t at least going to TASTE good:

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Made of bittersweet chocolate, a little sugar, water and butter, the frosting was dark, glossy and beautiful. It smelled so good that I decided that if turns out to be unusable as a frosting, I’ll find a way to eat it anyway. Maybe with ice cream or pancakes or my fingers.

I made the frosting first, as I wanted to give it time to thicken up. Nigella did it the other way around, cake first, but I figured that the frosting will take longer to thicken given our tropical weather.

The cake was a breeze to make, although frosting it was a little harder than expected. The icing, while thick enough, was still pretty… what’s the word… goopy. If I moved too much icing from the sides of the top of the cake, it would quickly trickle down to the sides, resulting in frosting puddles all around the cake plate. So it took me some time to get it looking not like a mess. And I think I did ok, no?

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Who cares what it looks like though, what really matters is what it tastes like, right? And at the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn… it is delicious!

The cake itself was surprisingly light and soft but still moist. And I think the lightness of the cake really goes well with the frosting, since the frosting is not the sticky, thick kind. It’s smooth and silky (haha, I feel like I’m talking about hair in a shampoo commercial) and light. Which is not something I can say about the way it tastes. This frosting is quite possibly the most chocolate-y frosting I’ve ever encountered in a cake. It tastes as dark as it looks. Bitter, only a tiny bit sweet, rich and heady, this is not just a chocolate lover’s cake, it’s a dark chocolate lover’s cake.

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If dark chocolate is not your thing, though, then maybe you could switch from bittersweet to semisweet for the frosting, or use a combination of both. You could even use milk chocolate, although I think that would be too sweet already. I would suggest that you make the recipe in its original form first, though, before adjusting the chocolate to your taste. I daresay that you’d like it the way it is.

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