A favorite uncle of mine is celebrating a birthday today. You know who you are!
Even though I can’t be there to help celebrate my Uncle Benny’s birthday, I thought I’d let him know I’m participating out here by making a chocolate cake in his honor. Unfortunately, it has to be a “virtual” cake for him but a real one for Roger and me (and my co-workers who will get to have a taste as well).
Uncle Benny and my dad owned a small Italian restaurant together, and my uncle was the primary chef. Growing up, a lot of the nine siblings had to help out in the kitchen, and all but perhaps one of them grew up to be fabulous cooks. Uncle Benny was a cook in the Army as well—those lucky soldiers! There were no better pizzas than the ones my Uncle Benny made at the restaurant. He could make them blindfolded and with one hand tied behind his back. These days, he’s still making them; but I think he’s thrown away the blindfold and uses both hands. 😉
The cake I decided to make is Hershey’s Black Magic Cake. I had seen this cake on so many food sites and had bookmarked it as a candidate for my ongoing search for the top 10 best ever chocolate cakes. As I made the cake for him, a bunch of food memories came flooding back. One of my favorites was the time I made a cake for dessert when I knew Uncle Benny (my Godfather) was coming over for dinner. With my parents’ full knowledge, I deliberately baked a set of metal measuring spoons (connected on a ring) into the cake because we planned to have him cut and serve the cake. What can I say?—I was a teenager! The look on his face as he struggled to cut through the cake was priceless; and, when he used the tip of the knife to dig out and hold up the obstacle to his cutting, we were all in hysterics. OK, so you had to be there to appreciate it.
Uncle Benny, you probably don’t remember this but you gave me a small roasting pan from the restaurant over 40 years ago that is still one of my favorite pans and one which I use quite frequently. A pound of baked ziti fits in it perfectly. It’s restaurant quality, of course, and you can see from the photo how well heavy duty stainless steel holds up through the years. Love this pan!
Not sure if you remember another gift from the restaurant—this serving dish. I’ve had this, too, for over 40 years. It’s ovenproof, and I love that it was made in Bedford, Ohio, back in the days when things were actually manufactured in the United States. I love, too, how it matches my blog “décor.”
Anyway, just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you on your special day. Have a wonderful day celebrating with family and friends who aren’t 1,000 miles away!
One year ago: Peanut Butter and Mocha Checkerboards
Black Magic Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup strong black coffee
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes for round pans, 30 to 35 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with tender crumb clinging (totally clean toothpick means it’s been baked too long). Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Frost as desired.
I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to make this Black Magic cake. It certainly qualifies to make my list of top 10 chocolate cakes. I made the suggested frosting, but I now realize that in order to have a truly scientific approach to my top 10 list, I need to limit the variables to the cake alone and just make the same frosting for all of them. I will do this going forward. I am listing the frosting recipe I used for this cake, but I much prefer the chocolate ganache I used in my Southern Style Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting and plan to use it for future top 10 contenders.
One last thing–I think the cake was even moister the next day!
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 tbl. milk or heavy cream
Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Source: A Savory Sweet Life recipe