Monday, November 16, 2009

Chocolate Chip Fudge Cake

Chocolate Chip Fudge Cake - baked November 15, 2009

This is what I would call a “picnic cake”. Because you don’t frost it, it’s easy to pack up and take along with you or send in a care package. It’s easy to make in one bowl, you bake it on one pan and you just cut and serve. At first I thought this cake wouldn’t be very chocolaty because it doesn’t have that much baking chocolate but the chocolate chips make up for it. It has a perfect cakey texture which I like in all my cakes – it’s lighter than a pound cake but more dense than a sponge cake. So I consider it “cakey”. If you’re short on time, this is a great cake to throw together. Just watch the baking time – because the batter fills up the pan to make a thick layer, you have to make sure you bake it long enough for the middle to bake but not so long that the corners and ends dry out.

This recipe is also from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans. So far, I’m really liking this baking book. I’ve probably made at least a dozen or more recipes from it and only one didn’t turn out (an orange layer cake). But all the others have been so good that I’m thinking that the one failure was more my fault than the book’s because I don’t think I baked the orange cake layers long enough. I may have to try it again just to make sure it wasn’t operator error. The only thing about the book is the directions are somewhat long-winded since she’s aiming for a more novice audience. I tend to skim the directions to get the gist of it then do my own thing. For instance, I don't see the point of melting the unsweetened chocolate in the oven as this recipe calls for. I always melt my chocolate over a double boiler so I can stir it as needed and don't have to bother with popping something in and out of the oven or the microwave. You run less risk of burning the chocolate this way too.

Chocolate Chip Fudge Cake

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound (1 stick) soft unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
½ cup water
1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for dusting the top of the cake, optional

1. Mix the cake: Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 175˚F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 x 2-inch square baking pan or an 11 x 7 x 2-inch rectangular baking pan.
2. Put the unsweetened chocolate in a small ovenproof container and place it in the oven to melt. It will take about 12 minutes to melt. As soon as the chocolate melts, remove it from the oven and stir it smooth. Increase the oven temperature to 325˚F. Set the chocolate aside to cool slightly while you mix the cake.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together onto a piece of wax paper or into a medium bowl and set aside.
4. Put the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture looks smooth and creamy, and the color lightens, about 2 minutes. Move the beaters around in the bowl if using a handheld electric mixer. Stop the mixer and scrape the mixture from the sides of the bowl and any that becomes caught in the beaters as needed throughout the mixing process. Decrease the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate, mixing just to combine it with the other ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after adding each egg. Decrease the speed to low and add the vanilla and sour cream, mixing just until the sour cream is incorporated. Add half of the flour mixture and mix to incorporate the flour. Add the water, mixing to incorporate it. Add the remaining flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl after the last addition of flour. The batter is ready when the final addition of flour is mixed completely into the batter. If any flour is clinging to the sides of the bowl, stir it into the batter. Use a large spoon to stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.
6. Bake and serve the cake: Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out slightly sticky but not coated with liquid. If the toothpick penetrates a chocolate chip, test another spot. Cool the cake thoroughly in its pan, about 1 ½ hours. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Cut into squares to serve. Leave leftover cake in the pan, and cover and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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