May 27, 2009
I have to admit it, I have a confession to make. My name is BigSis, and I'm a baking-from-scratch snob. If I'm going to go to the trouble to bake something, I think it's better if it's made from scratch. It's always felt like it's cheating to use a mix. It's not that I think I'm Miss Pastry Chef 2009, and that everything that emerges from my kitchen has a halo above it's head. I don't think that at all. So I don't know why I have this snobbery about baking mixes, I just always have.
However, I recently entered a baking contest that required the use of a cookie mix, and I also used a brownie mix in another contest. And guess what? They were pretty darn good! I was pleasantly surprised! Now I've had to reevaluate my prejudice toward scratch baking, and admit that some mixes are worth using, and that there is no shame in using them! Truth is, (gasp) you sometimes can't even tell when a mix has been used. For example, the Kahlua Bundt Cake I made recently used a mix, and so does this Triple Chocolate Cake I made for a co-worker's birthday last week.
In my opinion, “doing things” to these mixes is the trick. Add some vanilla, some coffee, some puddin, some licker…you get the idea. For this cake, I took a tweak from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor, and jumped off from there with some changes of my own. One important note is that the original recipe called for baking the cake 58 to 62 minutes. When I checked mine at 50 minutes, however, it was already done and I think it might have been done a minute or two before that, so keep an eye on this bugger.
Triple Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing
(adapted from Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor)
For the cake:
1 pkg Devil's Food or Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 3.9 oz pkg Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup canola oil
4 extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus extra for garnish if desired (I used the swirled chocolate/white chocolate chips)
For the chocolate icing:
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with flour-added non-stick spray, or grease and flour the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for 2 or 3 minutes. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the chocolate chips, mixing well to evenly distribute them.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth out. Bake in the preheated oven until the cake begins to pull back from the sides of the pan, and a tester comes out clean, about 48 to 52 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Carefully run a long thin-bladed knife around the perimeter of the cake to loosen it, and invert it onto the rack to continue cooling. Meanwhile, make the icing.
In a medium-size saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, and coffee. Stirring constantly, bring it to a boil over medium heat, 3 or 4 minutes. Continue stirring for an additional minute to ensure the sugar is dissolved completely. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt, and then the chocolate chips. Stir to melt the chips. Icing should be smooth and shiny.
Pour the warm icing over the cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips over the top of the cake if desired.
This cake was rich, and very very chocolaty! I'd make it again, and start checking it for doneness around 45 minutes. The icing is really unusual, and good but pretty sweet. I think the bittersweet chips were a good choice in it; I absolutely wouldn't use milk chocolate chips in it. They'd be way too sweet. Oh, and don't worry about a strong coffee flavor in this cake. I didn't taste coffee at all actually; the coffee just brought out the rich flavor of the chocolate. I might also add some cinnamon to the batter next time since I love that coffee-cinnamon-vanilla-chocolate combo.
So would I use another cake mix? Sure, I would. But would I rather make a cake from scratch if I had the time? Oh, yeah! There's something so satisfying and fun in that experience. But if time is short, I think a doctored-up cake mix still shows someone that you cared enough to fire up your oven, heat up your kitchen and get chocolate batter all over your favorite shorts, rather than drive to a bakery!