I've written about it before, but there are times in a woman's life (usually on a monthly basis) when she needs chocolate, and I am no different. I have been craving chocolate like nobody's business the past week or so, and while I partially sated my craving with a batch of Ghirardelli brownies during the blizzard (keeping brownie mix in the house is dangerous, kids), they were merely a substitute to distract myself from what I really wanted -- chocolate cake. It wasn't just any chocolate cake that had captured my imagination either; I was fixated on a recipe I'd seen ages ago on the internet, and never gotten around to trying.
The recipe, for a cake that combined two of my favorite things, chocolate and root beer, came from a book that had stormed the food blogosphere when it was released a few years ago, and I was reminded of this particular recipe when I saw that the book's authors had released a new book. I managed to locate the recipe for the cake online, but I was skeptical of the instructions, which suggested swapping as much as a cup of the root beer in the cake with root beer schnapps for a more intense root beer flavor. Intuitively speaking, a cup seemed like a lot of booze for a cake.
So, before I ventured into the kitchen, I tried to find the hard copy of the original cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, at my local library, only to find there was a wait list. Discouraged, I tried to silence the cake's siren song in my mind, but I ended up bringing it up to Justin, who quickly located the book on the shelf at the library at which he works, and checked it out on my behalf. A quick scan of the original indicated that the proper substitution was a half cup, not a full cup, so I was glad I checked the source.
Ultimately, the cake didn't taste much like root beer at all, possibly because the soda I used for the cake was rather mild. The recipe calls for regular, not diet soda, which I do not drink, so I ended up purchasing Dad's Root Beer, which I hadn't consumed since my childhood, because it came in a size that was more suitable for baking and wouldn't leave me with tons of extra cans or bottles that I wouldn't want to drink. I didn't realize, however, until the cake was finished that the Dad's Root Beer was very, very mild. I think the root beer flavor might come through more with a more assertive soda in the mix.
That being said, I am prepared to give this recipe another chance. The cake was tasty, if slightly dense, and very chocolatey. Unless I can get the root beer flavor to become more prominent, this recipe won't replace my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe (about which I still have yet to blog), but I will definitely be filing away the recipe for the frosting from this cake. Not only was it mind-blowingly simple to make, it was also delicious.
I don't say that lightly either -- if you know anything about my taste in baked goods, you'll know that I hate frosting. I was always the kid you wanted at a birthday party growing up, because I wouldn't fight for the edge pieces of the cake, or the pieces with the balloons or flowers. I was perfectly content to get an unadorned, inside piece, scrape off the frosting, and pass along the sugar high to another guest. So for me to say that I really enjoyed the frosting on this cake is somewhat of a minor miracle.
I'll keep you posted on whether I can coax more root beer flavor out of this cake in the future, but if nothing else, I urge you to whip up a batch of this frosting and spread it on some box cake or cupcakes. It's that good. And to my lady readers -- trust me, it will satisfy that deep yearning for chocolate.
Root Beer Chocolate Bundt Cake adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
2 cups root beer (if you can find it, swap out 1/2 cup of root beer for root beer schnapps)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 ounces dark chocolate melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the Bundt pan.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy–do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack completely before frosting.
For the frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and shiny. Apply to cake and allow to set before serving.