Josh’s cake

This cake is not for the weak of heart. Nor for those on a diet. And it’s certainly not for those who don’t like dark chocolate.

Josh really likes dark chocolate. Of course I obliged his dark chocolate-lust for his birthday– only the best girlfriend would. (;

This cake is loosely based off of an Sicilian cassata cake. A traditional version of this Sicilian cassata dessert, often served at Easter, is made from a light-textured sponge cake stuffed with rum-ricotta filling laced with candied orange peel. Josh’s cake provides a version more suited to a chocolate-loving Americans’ taste: dense chocolate cake with bits of 100% cocoa filled with sweet cannoli filling and chocolate, and iced with ganache-like fudge frosting.

Josh’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Cake Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup butter
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
– 2 100% Ghirardelli chocolate squares, optional
– 2/3 cup cocoa powder
– 3 large eggs
– 1 1/4 cups flour
– 3/4 cup milk

Cannoli Filling Ingredients:

– 2 cups ricotta cheese, part-skim preferred
– 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
– 2 tablespoons simple syrup or vanilla syrup, to brush on cake, optional

Frosting Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
– 2 100% Ghirardelli chocolate squares, optional
– 3/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 cup butter
– pinch of salt
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 8″ round cake pans.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, baking powder, chocolate, and cocoa, adding eggs one at a time. Add half the flour to the bowl, beating at low speed to combine. Add all of the milk, and the rest of the flour, beating gently until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, loosen the edges, wait 10 minutes, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Store completely cooled cake well wrapped, at room temperature, until ready to fill and frost.

Filling Instructions:

Note: I didn’t make my own cannoli filling. I bought pre-made cannoli filling from my local supermarket. And put chocolate on top of the piped-out filling. This comes from the original recipe from King Arthur Flour.

Stir together the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Frosting Instructions:

Sift the cocoa, confectioners’ sugar, and chocolate into a bowl.

Bring the cream to a simmer on the stove and whisk into the cocoa mixture. At first the mixture will look grainy; continue whisking for a minute. You’ll see the lumps disappear as the sugar dissolves and the cocoa hydrates. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Place the butter, salt, and sifted confectioners’ sugar in a small mixing bowl. Beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer running on low speed, add the cocoa mixture a spoonful at a time until it’s all incorporated. Scrape the bowl, then beat at medium speed for 1 minute.
To assemble the cake:
Brush the cut side of each layer with simple syrup or vanilla syrup; this will help keep the cake moist.
Place the bottom layer on a serving plate. Pipe or spread the ricotta cannoli on the cake. Top with the second cake layer. Ice the cake top and sides with the chocolate frosting.
Serve immediately; or refrigerate, well-wrapped, until ready to serve, preferably not longer than 24 hours.
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