This super tall, super moist cake is swathed in a creamy sour cream chocolate frosting and gets a salty kick from crunchy pretzels.
Notes: The cake base was adapted from the Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Engine Co. No. 28. I used a dark cocoa (such as Hershey's dark), which resulted in a very dark cake, but this is not necessary. Regular natural cocoa will work fine for this cake. Do not use Dutch process cocoa here. The pretzels soften after the first day. If making ahead, omit the pretzels on the inside, and coat top and sides of cake with pretzels before serving.
About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore working on her new baking cookbook, and as a recipe developer for HungryGoWhere Singapore. Check out her blog: shophousecook.com . Follow Yvonne on Twitter.
- Yield:Makes one 9-inch cake
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 1/2 hours
- For the cake:
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups hot coffee
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (4 1/2 ounces) cocoa (see note)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- For the frosting:
- 13 tablespoons (6 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sour cream
- 7 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 3 ounces pretzel knots, crushed, divided
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
Place chocolate in a large bowl and pour coffee over. Whisk until melted and then cool briefly. Whisk in brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla until combined.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking power in a medium bowl. Whisk into wet mixture until smooth. Evenly divide batter between pans and bake until just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for 30 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the frosting: Mix butter, chocolate, sour cream, cocoa, and vanilla in mixer with paddle on low speed until combined. Add sugar and mix until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat until creamy, about 1 minute. If frosting is too soft to spread onto cake, chill briefly until thickened.
Place one cake on serving plate and spread with about 2/3 cup frosting. Sprinkle almost half of the crushed pretzels on the frosting and then place the second cake on top (rounded side up). Use remaining frosting to ice top and sides of cake. Sprinkle remaining pretzels on top.