The perfect chocolate cake – does it exist? I have a confession to make. As much as I love chocolate, chocolate cakes are nowhere near the top of my favourite desserts list! Not even my favourite cakes list! Panna Cotta, cheesecake, apple cake, bread and butter pudding – now these are up there!
However, my husband loves chocolate cakes, well, chocolate anything, I suppose. And this chocolate birthday cake has been a labour of love – in more ways than one! Now, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a lovely piece of chocolate cake but to me, most of them don’t live up to expectations, being sorry sponges with icing and/or ganache to jazz up what would otherwise be a rather lackadaisical affair.
And when we do get depth, it is a little too heavy to be partied with, best eaten on its own, perhaps with a dollop or two of cream or ice cream, like Dark French Cakes.
So the idea behind this Chocolate Birthday Cake was to find a balance between the two – a cake that’s more substantial than a lacklustre sponge but still light enough to take on icing and ganache. I love baking with evaporated milk and decided to use it in this recipe as a starting point, along with 3 eggs.
How to make Perfect Chocolate Cake
The first time I made it, it was still a little too light for my taste and perhaps just a touch on the dry side.
The second time, I increased the liquid & sugar content and doubled the baking powder. The result? Almost there, just the right balance between boring sponge and brownie texture but something was still missing. But what?
The third time – I decided to stick with the recipe but throw in some chopped up dark chocolate chips in the mix for texture and flavour. I was rather pleased with the outcome but my husband – not a fan of dark chocolate – not surprisingly, didn’t like the smoky, bitter aftertaste from the chocolate chips. Almost there!
Take 4 – the plan was to substitute the dark chocolate with milk chocolate but at the last minute, my 6 year old, who was helping me weigh everything, suggested I add 3 kinds of chocolate chips, so we did! We chopped up some dark, milk and white and the result – stupendous!
We made it for my husband’s birthday last weekend, with some simple Chocolate Buttercream Icing (click for the recipe) and Milk Chocolate Ganache and my brother in law declared it the best chocolate cake he had ever had! There you go!
Now, like many decorated birthday cakes, this one will take some time. For starters, you have to let the cake completely cool before decorating. I say 6 hours is enough. Of course, in that time, you can get everything else ready, especially the chocolate shards. The actual decorating shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes but you’ll find that you’re enjoying yourself so much, you don’t want to stop!
Because of the liquid content, the cake is better baked in two pans for even cooking.
Perfect Chocolate Cake