Sometimes I wish I had super powers. Nothing really spectacular, although I wouldn’t say no to being able to loosen molecular bonds…. Nope, I’d even settle for being able to gift that nice person who keyed our car with mutant Montezuma’s revenge or turn everyone’s favorite sycophant’s nose brown when he ascribes his mistakes to the new guy. But sadly, I live in the real world where people let their dogs poop on the sidewalk and don’t pick it up. Yup. So, I like to pull out my own, innate super power, the ability to activate the dopaminergic pathway. Eh? Certain parts of the grey matter are associated with different functions, like your arms versus your pancreas, so stimulation of different areas give you different results. And the pleasure centers of the brain are in the limbic area for the most part and dopamine is the neurotransmitter/chemical hormone signal that turns things on there. Did I mention that sugar and fat are some things that turn on dopamine. And we all know this famous equation: ∫s(ugar) + fat = chocooooolate ;). Eureka! Nothing like a little positive reinforcement to keep you from going postal, right?
I like bundt cakes cuz they’re pretty, fairly forgiving cuz their shape and moisture content give you a fudge factor in case your timer goes kaplooie, you can mix in whatever flavors to the base batter to suit your fancy, and did I mention that they’re pretty? Seriously, while I have a sweet tooth, I don’t like really sugary things so having a cake that naturally needs no frosting is right up my alley. The addition of baker’s chocolate (100% cacao so no sugar) gives the cake a decadent, slightly bitter, dark chocolate! flavor, so while I call this “truffle cake” there’s technically no cream in the melted chocolate mixture to qualify it as a truffle ganache but your taste buds won’t know the difference. And just in case you’re wondering, this cake stays moist even on day 4 if it lasts that long…. Okay baddies, bring it.
A few hints to get you started:
1) Mixing the baking soda with the sour cream activates the baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide, which is what makes the batter rise (along with the baking powder), so once you’ve done this step you need to continue in a timely manner or you may end up with a flattish cake :(.
2) Avoid the temptation to overmix as this will expose more of the gluten from the flour allowing it to create a matrix thereby giving the cake a tough, rubbery texture so once you no longer have visible patches of flour you’re good to go. Fine Cooking has a simple and informative look at gluten and baking.
3) Don’t worry if you don’t have a double-boiler to melt the chocolate, you can jerry rig your own. Boil water in a pot or tea kettle. Pour it into a large mixing bowl. Let sit for a minute to let the steam dissipate. Using a pot holder, hold a small bowl, preferably metal so it conducts heat well as you are using the steam from the water to heat the bowl, above the mixing bowl just above but not touching the hot water. Gently stir the chocolate mixture together using the heat from the hot water. Try not to splash the water as not only can you get burned but it can also cause your chocolate to seize becoming a separated, lumpy, grainy mixture.
4) Is there a quick and dirty conversion for conventional vs convection baking times? Yup. Usually, unless you have a really short, less than 15 minute, cooking time you should reduce the baking time by 25-30% so a 60 minute baking time in a conventional oven would roughly become 45 minutes in a convection oven. I usually decrease my time by 25% and set a timer to check 5 minutes before the decreased time so for the above example I would bust out my cake tester at 40 minutes. And I case you’re wondering, silicone pans also have a faster baking time than metal pans ~ 10% in my experience.
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c Dutch-process cocoa powder (I like Dröste brand)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 c low fat buttermilk
8 + 1 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (100% cacao), broken into small pieces
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. If not using a silicone bundt pan grease and flour 10 inch bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl combine sour cream and baking soda. Set aside. It will increase in volume and get fluffy like whipped cream.
In another large bowl or stand mixer mix together 8 tbsp butter, granulated sugar, and 1/2 c brown sugar on medium speed till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. With mixer on low setting add 1/2 of flour mixture and mix till just combined (no large streaks/lumps of white flour are visible). Mix in 1/2 of sour cream mixture. Alternate mixing in flour and sour cream mixtures till just combined. Mix in buttermilk and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a double boiler, or the microwave (?!) if you’re really brave, melt baking chocolate, bittersweet chocolate chips, and remaining 1 tbsp butter. Remove from heat.
Stir melted chocolate into batter and bake for 35-50 minutes or till a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. With a silicone pan and convection oven this usually takes ~35 minutes for me. Let cake rest for 5 minutes then loosen from pan sides with a butter knife. Sit back and take a deep breath as the truffley chocolately cake makes all the badness drift away. Makes 12-6 servings depending on how many times you have to invoke your super powers ;).
PS: This cake also tastes great when there are no bad guys in sight or you need to fend off a birthday or too. Just sayin’.