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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

A CHOCOLATE SALUTE TO THE MASTER


In celebration of Julia Child's 85th birthday on August 15, 1997, NCA's Chocolate Council sponsored the recipe for the chocolate cake served to Julia Child for her birthday. When asked about this cake, Mrs. Child exclaimed, "The recipe is eminently worth dying for." Chef Marcel DeSaulniers, of Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Va., created the special cake for the lifetime chocolate lover herself. Guittard Chocolate donated the chocolate for the cake on behalf of NCA.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
8 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely grated

Directions:

  1. Lightly coat insides of two 9 x 1 1/2 inch cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment paper, then lightly coat parchment with more melted butter. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 1/2 pound of butter in top half of double boiler. Heat butter slowly, stirring continuously until it is melted but not separated. Remove from heat.
  3. Place egg yolks and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in bowl of electric mixer fitted with balloon whip. Whisk on high until slightly thickened and lemon-colored, about 1 minute. Adjust mixer speed to low and continue to mix while whisking egg whites.
  4. Whisk egg whites in a large stainless bowl until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to whisk until stiff but not dry, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Gradually add flour to egg yolks while mixing on low. Add melted butter and continue to mix on low for 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 5 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and use rubber spatula to thoroughly combine ingredients. Add a third of beaten egg whites and stir to incorporated, gently fold in remaining egg white and 8 ounces grated chocolate.
  6. Divide batter between prepared pans, spreading evenly, and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cakes and cool in pans for 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto cake circles; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Remove parchment and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Chocolate icing

Ingredients:

1/2 pound unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place 1/2 pound butter, cocoa, and salt in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle. 
  2. Cream mixture on low until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add confectioners' sugar, half-and-half, and vanilla. Combine on low for 10 seconds. Readjust speed to high and beat until icing is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from mixer and keep at room temperature until needed.

Assembly:

Slice each cake horizontally into two layers of equal size. Place one tablespoon icing in center of cake circle. Place a layer of cake onto dab of icing and gently press in place. Evenly spread 3/4 cup of icing over cake layer. Repeat steps for remaining three cake layers. After fourth (top) cake layer is placed, evenly spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. Press reserved 2 ounces of grated chocolate into icing on sides of cakes, coating evenly.

Serves 12.