Since one of my dearest gal pals has a birthday this week, I think I’ll bake her a cake. But it can’t be just any cake. If you knew my friend, you would agree. It has to be festive…fudgy…a bit naughty. And memorable.
When I searched online for chocolate cakes, there were over six million recipes, each claiming to be the moistest, dreamiest one of them all. As I scanned through the myriad of ingredients, the word mayonnaise caught my eye. At first I winced, but as I gave it more thought, it made brilliant sense. Mayonnaise: an emulsion of yolks, vinegar, oil, and salt; a pantry staple. As it turns out, the idea was coined by some clever homemakers during World War II, when eggs and butter were in short supply.
Would it be short on flavor? I had to see for myself. After testing a few different versions, I combined the best virtues and came up with the recipe here. If you ask me, it’s the ultimate chocolate cake—rich but light, sweet but not cloying, and decidedly chocolate. It’s what I’ll be drooling over while singing “Happy Birthday” later this week. The birthday girl need never know our little secret.
10-12 slices or 15 cupcakes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup real mayonnaise (not reduced-fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup buttermilk
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not to exceed 61 percent), chopped
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans (or fill a cupcake tin with liners).
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic blade, beat both sugars and mayonnaise until fluffy. Add the vanilla and blend.
3. Sift the dry ingredients together into a small bowl. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the melted chocolate and blend.
4. Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans. Bake the pans on a baking sheet and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean (30–32 minutes for cupcakes and 40-45 minutes for cakes). Remove from the baking sheet and cool completely.
5. Prepare the frosting: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic blade, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the butter and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
6. Invert one cake layer onto a cake stand or platter, leveling off the top with a serrated knife. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting over the top, then invert the next cake layer on top and repeat the process, spreading the remaining frosting over the sides of the cake.
Chocaholic in the family? Try our Ginger Chocolate Soufflé.
Photo credit: themoodfoodblog and Psychology Today