fudgy chocolate cake

aside from what is essentially a glorified bag of groceries (timtams, sweet chili sauce, golden syrup, cordial), my most treasured souvenir from my trip abroad is a glossy cooking magazine, its pages filled to the brim with australian recipes. it delights me in a way that a pair of ugg boots never could. i pinched it off the rack while in line at a woolies on our last night in surfers paradise – the store near closing, the lines long – because i recognized the picture on the front cover.

deep, dark, and cloaked in ganache, it was the chocolate cake i had made just a few weeks before. you would think one would avoid paying out a few heavy coins for a magazine with an old recipe in it, but i took it as an indication of the publication’s quality instead – because this cake was deliriously good.

the cake itself is dense and sturdy like a brownie, and just moist enough to make a cold glass of milk fairly optional. and the ganache – well, there’s nothing like the magic of dark chocolate and hot cream. you could serve the cake at room temperature, when the ganache is at its prettiest, but personally i think a thick wedge of it is best cut straight from the fridge, so the frosting is cold and firm and melts only when it hits your tongue.

below is the recipe, fine-tuned and converted to american measurements (with the help of this website). when i made it, i had also slathered a fluffy mocha icing to rest just underneath the slick of ganache. but while the fluffy texture was a happy complement, something goofy happened when i one-fifthed the recipe, so you can experiment with your own third layer as you please.

in the meantime, i will go investigate the other 153 pages of themagazine and hopefully return shortly with good news of caramel slices and anzac biscuits and sponges layered with berries and cream.

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Fudgy Chocolate Cake
converted and adapted from this recipe by Angela Nilsen
Good Food magazine, April 2004
also in
Australian Good Food, April 2010

7 oz. good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids {I used 15 squares of a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar}
14 Tbsp. butter, cut in pieces
1 Tbsp. espresso powder
2/3 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ½ Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
5 Tbsp. buttermilk

{for the ganache}
3 ½ oz. good-quality dark chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

  1. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and line the base with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Break the chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the butter pieces. Dissolve the coffee granules in ½ cup of cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. (Or, melt in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring well after each interval.)
  2. While the chocolate is melting, mix the two flours, baking soda, sugars, and cocoa in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to break up any lumps.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in the buttermilk.
  4. Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the pan and bake for 1 hour 25 to 1 hour 30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the center, it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave the cake to cool in the pan (don’t worry if it sinks slightly); then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the ganache: chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour the cream into a pan, add the sugar, and heat until it is about to boil. (Small bubbles will form around the edges.) Take off the heat and pour hot cream over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

  6. Pour the ganache over the cake, letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. The cake keeps moist and fudgy in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

one more

i celebrated my birthday last weekend: 25. hefty, solid. square-rootable.

someone made me a cake:

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which still makes me smile.

(those little pearls remind me of the silver dragées that i loved to pick off iced christmas cookies and eat as a kid.) (and that apparently really are illegal in california.)

right now is probably the most my age i’ve ever felt (at least out of all the years i’ve had the presence of mind to reflect on things like that). because, snooty as it sounds, i’ve always felt older than my years. i remember a conversation back in college: “i feel about 34 on the inside,” i said. “really?” he said. “because i feel like i’m still 14.” well, that explained a lot.

it’s the way i grew up, i’m pretty sure of it. it fostered early versions of all sorts of things i’ve come to be grateful for: an independent spirit and a certain maturity and self-awareness, sure – but also the burden of oneself, heavy as lead.

but finally, somewhat recently, that’s started to feel about right. my friends, my generation, we’re coming upon this together now, i think. life is our own, for better or worse. it’s time to take it up. sign on for grad school if you must, but otherwise we need to get going, because the afterburn is gone.

this song pretty much gets it down, i think. (and hey, now there’s a movie tie-in: even better.)


these days life travels in violent spikes. friends, career, love, sanity: pick two. drop the rest. then give things a juggle in a few months. i don’t know anybody my age that has all spots pulsing and thriving, or if they do, i hate them and pretend they don’t exist. (see what i was saying earlier about that maturity?)

it’s quite possible that all this that i’m emo-ing about is simply what they call… life. and this will persist forever and ever, amen. but hey there, little thought: shoo, shoo. this is enough for now.

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i think that’s why last weekend was such flat-out fun. i was able to put a bookend on everything (ie, tell all the stuff in my head to shut up for a sec) and just go play.

in addition to the cake, someone else brought a small army of pumpkins to carve, and we spent the night tracing out designs and sawing out pieces til our hands were covered in pumpkin shreds and pulp.

we lined up our finished works on the concrete wall outside my little house, shut down the lights for a little while, and marveled like it was the most fantastic thing.

because it kind of was.

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