Happy Fall and a chocolate cake


What? How can it be November already!? I feel like I was just making bagels yesterday and hoping for an early day to take a bike ride. Now I would have to leave work at three just to catch the sunset! Fall in the Napa Valley brings the wine harvest and with wine, comes food of course! I was invited to my first beefsteak this week and let me tell you, it was an experience. Beefsteaks are native to New York and were popular many years ago but became too expensive for most people to continue. The rules: no forks, no napkins, just meaty greasy food. Upon arrival all guests were provided aprons and drinks. Our courses came in “waves’ starting with ground beef patties and fried onions. From there we moved on to some small bites of chicharrones, rillettes, rendered beef tallow, and home made potato chips (they had four mini fryers going). The first wave came out and was a delicious brisket with a vinegar based sauce that nobody could seem to get enough of. From here I should backtrack and say that the hosts, along with my boyfriend, built a smoker and had started smoking the meat the day before. The second wave was smoked pork butt. We moved on through the biggest rib eye I’ve ever seen served on sourdough toasts and covered with gravy-that was a fun one to eat with no forks- then onto pork ribs, and we finished with a rack of lamb. For those that had survived the clogged arteries I of course brought chocolate cake.

There are two things I look for in a chocolate cake recipe: coffee and oil. Coffee brings out a stronger chocolate flavor so do not be deterred if you are not a coffee drinker. Decaf coffee will work fine with this recipe. Oil on the other hand is a surefire way to know that a product will be moist. I use oil in almost all my muffin recipes as well. When I volunteered to make this cake the only requirement was “chocolate.” So when I came across this recipe by Ina Garten, I had to break the rules about not trying something new for an event and give it a shot. The reviews on this cake were right, it was delicious! This is by far my favorite chocolate cake recipe to date and will be my go to in the future. I decided to forgo the frosting recipe and try an ermine icing (or roux based) for the layers and exterior. I then topped it off with chocolate ganache and modeling chocolat
e leaves (an easy way to look super impressive.) The beefsteak attendees were impressed and some of them even forced down two pieces despite being filled with meats.

Ina Garten: Beatty’s Chocolate Cake


  • Butter, for greasing the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Ermine Frosting Recipe via Chef Becca Heflin over at It’s Yummi


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 sticks cool, unsalted butter


  • In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour and cocoa powder together with a small amount of your milk to form a paste.
  • Add the rest of the milk and the sugar to the pot and whisk over medium heat.
  • Add a heavy pinch of salt and taste. Adjust if necessary.
  • Bring the milk mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Whisk for another 30 seconds to a minute and then remove from the heat.
  • Pour into a metal bowl to cool. Whisk occasionally until the mixture reaches room temperature. You can speed this up by refrigerating the mixture.
  • Fit your mixer with the whip attachment. Whip the butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add the chocolate mixture, a couple of tablespoons at a time, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary.

(Original link here.)
IMG_5491 - Version 2



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