I make this cake once a year. I like to make it to perfect it. This year I added a caramel sauce to the topping because it seemed a little dry. I know this recipe is long but I took notes so I could remember what to do next year when I bake it again.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Cooling time: 2 1/2 hours
Assembling the cake: 20 minutes
1 cup (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels (at least 70% cacao), divided
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2-4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 tablespoon for pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
338g (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar in 1 cup measure topped up with milk to 1 cup mark)
Quick Crème Fraîche Frosting (from The Cake Bible)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream or 1 small carton (substitute: Greek style plain yogurt)
2 tablespoons sugar
Equipment needed: 9-inch springform cake pan, 2 wire racks, cake lifter or pancake turner
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix it with 1/2 tablespoon flour. Generously grease bottom and sides of springform pan with this butter-flour mixture. Set aside.
Melt 1/3 cup morsels in a bowl over hot simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Set melted chocolate aside. To make the topping, combine graham cracker crumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add enough melted butter to make the graham crackers come together, up to 2 additional tablespoons. Add nuts and remaining 2/3 cup morsels; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add half the sour milk and beat until just combined. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the remaining buttermilk/sour milk and vanilla to the beaten eggs. Starting and ending with the flour, add the flour mixture alternating with the egg mixture, beating until just moistened. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. There should be light streaks of flour in the batter. Scrape down the sides one last time.
Cake Baker’s Note: To make a chocolate swirl cake, remove 1/2 the batter to a medium bowl. Add the melted chocolate morsels and combine. Pour half the plain batter into the prepared pan. Top this layer with the chocolate batter. Top with the remaining plain batter. Use the end of a wooden spoon or a skewer make 3 large swirls in the batter.
Sprinkle top with crumb mixture, making sure to get right up to the edge of the batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes. If the top still jiggles after 30 minutes, bake another 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then use a skewer to loosen the sides. Remove the side of the springform pan. Cool completely on the wire rack. To remove the bottom, loosen the cake around the edges with a thin blade. Using a pancake turner or a cake lifter, carefully lift the cake from the pan bottom. Remove the pan bottom from the wire rack and place the entire cake back on the wire rack.
Cake Baker’s Note: Cake may be baked one day ahead and stored in an airtight cake tin. First, cool the cake thoroughly. Remove the side as directed but not the bottom. This ensures support for the cake when you remove it from the cake tin. Wrap cake and springform pan bottom airtight in plastic. Store it in a large cake tin, preferably one with a tight fitting lid. When ready to frost the cake, remove the pan bottom as directed.
Make a quick crème fraîche. Chill medium bowl and beaters in the freezer. Put heavy cream, sour cream, and sugar in bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Crème fraîche may be made while the cake is baking then refrigerated until ready to use.
The cake will be completely cooled to frost in about 2 1/2 hours. Slice the cake a little more than in half horizontally with a large serrated knife. Put the half with the topping on another wire cake rack, lifting the layer with a pancake turner or cake lifter.
Cake Baker’s Note: Before slicing the cake horizontally, I put a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the nut mixture when I do this so that I can place my hand lightly on top without damaging the nut layer.
Assemble the cake. Place the cake bottom with the cut side up on a serving plate. Put about half the crème fraîche on top of the cut side. Smooth it out evenly. Place the layer with the chocolate-nut mixture on top of the crème fraîche, nut layer up. Frost sides with remainder of crème fraîche. Drizzle caramel sauce on top. Don’t drizzle the sauce too close to the edges or it will run over the sides as happened in the picture. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a serrated knife. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
• Top the cut-side layer with crème fraîche. Drizzle the crème with caramel sauce, then place the nut layer on top of the crème fraîche-caramel sauce layer. Frost the sides with crème fraîche.