|A reasonable facsmile of Bob's Birthday Cake! It was devoured!|
JUDY GREBER/Gillian Roberts:
In our family, when it’s your birthday, you get to choose the menu, and the rest of us prepare it for you. Whatever you like. Whatever you love. For dessert, we’ve got butterscotch pudding lovers, ice-cream cake lovers, chocolate mousse lovers, lemon anything lovers, but for “the patriarch”, a.k.a. my husband, it’s this chocolate cake.
He is a chocoholic, and I confess that I’m an enabler, keeping him hooked, so for many years on birthdays and off (how could you wait 364 days for another stab at an ultimate chocolate dessert?) I tried out recipes. This one evolved from a time, long ago, when I was researching a (non-mystery) novel titled Mendocino, which happily took me to that charming town in Northern California, I ate at a delightful restaurant called Cafe Beaujolais. It still exists, but it has a new owner/chef. Back then, it was owned by Margaret Fox. I didn’t have the chocolate cake, but I loved her cooking so much, I bought her Cafe Beaujolais cookbook and in thumbing through it, found this cake.
Over time, I’ve tweaked the recipe and I use a different icing than she suggested, but here’s what ultimately became known hereabouts as “Bob’s Birthday Cake.” The search is over...
Chocolate Sour Cream Fudge Cake
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups light or dark brown sugar
4 ounces bitter chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 cup strong hot coffee
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter, sugar and eggs for 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer, until very light and fluffy.
Beat in chocolate and vanilla.
Stir in about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, half the sour cream, another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the rest of the sour cream, and finally, the remainder of the dry ingredients. Stir just until mixed.
Stir in hot coffee
Pour into 2 9" square pans ( 8" rounds work, too) greased and lined with waxed paper.
Strike each pan on the edge of the counter to release air bubbles.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Cool pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, turn out, and cool completely. Frost with:
Yield: 4 cups
3/4 cup unsalted butter, 1 1/2 sticks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup half and half
4 teaspoons instant coffee powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine butter, 3/4 cup sugar, half and half and coffee powder in large saucepan.
Stir over medium heat until sugar and coffee powder dissolves and mixture simmers. Remove from heat.
Add both chocolates; whisk until smooth.
Whisk in vanilla.
Pour chocolate mixture into large bowl.
Sift in powdered sugar; whisk to blend.
Press plastic wrap onto surface of frosting.
Chill just until firm enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours.
--there is no need to wait for a birthday to enjoy this!