Fudgey Chocolate Layer Cake

Today is my grandmother’s 93rd birthday.  Seriously. She’s 93. And, she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world. And, she loves chocolate.  Well, who doesn’t?! Oh wait, my uncle, her son doesn’t. Yeah, he’s an odd duck. But, he has great taste in wine and can cook up a storm so we let it go about the chocolate.  Anyway, he’s not here and I’m in charge of the food and if grandma wants chocolate cake, thens grandma gets chocolate cake. 🙂 Grandma also wants Brussels sprouts, which are NOT my favorite, but hey, she’s cute, it’s her birthday, and I love her so I’m making them as part of dinner. Of course, since it’s her birthday, I’ll be willing to let her have my share….cuz I’m generous like that. 🙂 But, I digress….

I found the perfect cake to make her in an old issue (2005) of Food and Wine magazine. Fudgey Chocolate Layer Cake – a delicious cake with lots of buttermilk and coffee mixed into the batter creating a moist, rich, decadent, and fudgey dessert. Perfect for the chocolate lover in all of us! (I had you at “fudgey,” didn’t I? 🙂


Fudgey Chocolate Layer Cake
Makes one 8-inch three-layer cake

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup hot coffee
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water

1. MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottoms of three eight-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment paper. Spray the pans and parchment paper with vegetable cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the eggs and vanilla. In another small bowl, melt the butter in the hot coffee. Using an electric mixer, beat half of the Bbuttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients at low speed. Beat in half of the coffee mixture, then scrape down the bowl. Beat in the remaining buttermilk and coffee mixtures.

3. Poor the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to thirty minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are springy to the touch. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool completely. peel off the parchment paper.

4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING AND FROSTING: put the chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil. Immediately pour over the chocolate and let stand in a warm place for 5 minutes.. Gently whisk the ganache until smooth. whisk in the butter until incorporated. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until the ganache is thick enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

5. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the sugar with the water and heat for 30 seconds. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set a cake layer on a cake plate and brush lightly with the sugar syrup. Spread about 3/4-cup of the frosting on to the cake in an even 1/4-inch layer. Repeat with the remaining cake layers, sugar syrup and frosting. Spread the remaining frosting around the sides of the cake. Let the cake stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing.

MAKE AHEAD: The cake will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before slicing.


Hug a Runner Day and some Peanut Butter Fudge

Today is a special day for two reasons.  Firstly, it’s Globally Organized Hug a Runner Day (G.O.H.A.R.D.)!  In 2009, a young person named Michaela McGuigan hosted a public Facebook event called “National Hug a Cross Country Runner Day.”  That event had over 42,000 people attend!!  That’s amazing!!  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have been repeated in 2010.  Two guys named Adam Goucher (retired distance athlete married to Kara Goucher, 10,000 meters bronze medalist in 2007 and American Olympic marathoner) and Tim Catalano (former distance runner at the University of Colorado, current writer, Teacher, Consultant at Edge-Ucation) decided in 2011 to revive Michaela’s event with a few changes.  They upped the ante from “National” to “Global” – there are runners all over the world, after all! – and they dropped the “Cross Country” to include all runners of all ages, distances, and styles.  So, I’m sure you know a runner, a jogger, a person who walks so quickly that it should qualify as jogging – today is the day to show them you appreciate them, in all their sweaty, stinky, black-toenailed, sore-kneed and tight hamstringed glory!  Give ’em a hug!  Of course, if you see a runner while she’s actually running, don’t swerve over to the side of the road, get out of your car and try to chase her down to give her a hug.  The thought is sweet but, well, that may not work out so well for you.   🙂

The second reason it’s a special day is because it’s National Peanut Butter Fudge Day!!!  Woohoo!!!  Unless you’re allergic to peanuts (and if you are, you’re definitely not celebrating this day!), this is definitely a day worth celebrating.  I personally love peanut butter.  Love.  And when I say love, I mean, LOVE.  I could eat peanut butter every day.  Okay, I pretty much do.  It’s a great source of protein, it tastes delicious, and all those monounsaturated fats are good for you!  Here are some interesting facts about peanut butter.  One of them is that Americans spend almost $800 million a year on peanut butter.  I can believe it.  I’m certain that I contribute a fair amount to that $800 million.  And I’m talking REAL peanut butter – not the kind with extra additions like palm oil, partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats), sugar, etc.  Real peanut butter is just peanuts and maybe some salt.  Smucker’s Natural = Best. Peanut Butter. Ever.  

So, anyway, peanut butter fudge.  O.M.G.  It’s like a gift.  It’s like a hug for your tongue and tastebuds.  Hey, after you hug your runner friend, give them a piece of homemade peanut butter fudge.  They won’t be able to thank you enough!  Okay, probably because their mouths will be full but you get the idea. 🙂 Om nom nom…..

Peanut Butter Fudge
(adapted from Alton Brown, the Food Network)

8 ounces unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar

Combine the butter and peanut butter in a 4-quart microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes.  (Use caution when removing this mixture from the microwave, it will be very hot.)  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen.  Spread into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper.  Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.