Well, I may need to amend that. Perhaps the day after Valentine's Day is the optimum day to go hog-wild, as all of that glorious red- and pink-wrapped candy and chocolate will be on sale. Yippee-ki-yay.
Personally, I like to indulge on a daily basis, and making this cake took care of those desires for nearly a week.
Kate, the lovely lady responsible for the blog Serendipity, recently reached out to several bloggers and offered to send us some authentic Belgian chocolate if we'd promise to make something truly decadent and post about it on Valentine's Day. It's safe to say that no arm-twisting was needed.
As you've recently learned, layer cakes are usually my favorite type of cake. It's no surprise, then, that I chose to make a German chocolate cake for this event. However, since the chocolate I used was actually Belgian, the name obviously had to be changed to reflect that--it ain't German chocolate cake if you're using Belgian chocolate!
Frankly, you're fortunate to be seeing any cake at all--much of the chocolate that Kate sent went right into my belly. It's dark and deep and delightful--truly tasty stuff.
Now, how shall I begin my description of this dessert? Let's talk about the actual cake part, since that's where the chocolate found its new temporary home (as opposed to its permanent home, my caboose). The layers were light and moist, but not so crumbly that a slice would fall apart. No, the texture was such that the cake was able to support the copious filling that I compelled to add.
The filling. No offense to the chocolate, of course, as it was marvelous in its own right, but the filling was my favorite part. Creamy and rich and laden with coconut and crunchy pecans. It was a true test of self-control to leave the huge bowl of the stuff sitting whilst I made the cake--I could've easily devoured at least half the batch. Indeed, it's the perfect compliment to the delicate and flavorful chocolate cake.
Kate, you're the bee's knees. Thanks for aiding and abetting my splurging. (Incidentally, how fun is that word? Splurge.) Go check out the other chocolate lovers (the links are listed here) and see how they used their bounty!
Happy Valentine's Day, folks, if you care about that sort of thing. If not, happy Anna Howard Shaw Day!
Belgian Chocolate Cake
(a majestic merger based on this cake and this filling)
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup hot coffee
4 oz semi-sweet Belgian chocolate, a la La Maison Saive, finely chopped (ha--I made ya sing la-la!)
4 egg yolks
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups pecans, finely-chopped
To prepare the filling, first toast the coconut and pecans at 350F until the coconut is browned and the pecans smell nutty. (The timing will be different, so use separate pans.) Next, whisk the egg yolks in a medium saucepan and gradually whisk in the evaporated milk. Add the sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and whisk in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Then stir in the coconut. (Pecans are stirred in just before cake assembly.) Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
For the cake, first make sure that your oven is preheated to 350F and prepare two 8″ cake pans. (I actually used an 8" and a 10" to achieve that staggered look and had to deal with the batter division and baking time accordingly.) You can go all-out by lightly oiling, lining the bottoms with parchment, oiling again, then lightly dusting with flour, or you can just skip the parchment as I did and simply grease and flour--it worked out fine.
In a small bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Let cool a bit.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk a few times to blend well.
In a larger bowl (we have a real Russian nested doll thing going on here, don't we!), beat together the eggs, milk, oil, and extracts. Add the chocolate-coffee mixture (assuming you haven't poured it down your gullet) and beat well. Finally, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
Split the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and place them in the oven to bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center is clean after removed.
Cool the layers in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove them and cool on the racks completely.
To assemble the skyscraper of splendor, first add the chopped pecans to the filling and mix well. Then simply slather half onto one layer of the cake, nestle the other cake layer on top of that, and spread the remaining filling onto the tippy-top. You should have plenty, assuming you were able to resist eating it by the spoonful...