What to CookCake

The Not-Too-Boring, Not-Too-Rich Chocolate Cake

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Would you like a piece of cake right now? For Goodness Cake is here for you. Every week, we'll be sharing recipes that prove why cake should be its own food group.

Today: What makes one chocolate cake better than another? Chocolate chips and chocolate frosting.

I’m a sigher. I sigh a lot, and I sigh loudly. I call unwanted attention to myself with my deep inhales and gale-strength exhales. I disrupt people in library-like settings. So, when this cake column was born and I realized that I was all but legally obligated to feature a chocolate cake, I left no breath inaudible.

Chocolate cake makes me tired -- something about the combination of monotony and richness. Eating a piece is like wading through one of those foam pits at gymnastic centers: Fun fades into exhaustion faster than you would expect; a weird chalky texture is not unusual; and you feel the need to brush your teeth and hands immediately afterwards.

More: 14 chocolate cake recipes to prove me wrong.

But chocolate chocolate chip cake (and this one is particular) -- well, that’s a wildly different story. It’s probably the same reason I’d take a Crunch Bar over a classic Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar and that I demand raisins in my rice pudding. But it’s more than just textural variation: It’s also that chocolate chips are punctuation marks of solid chocolate in the running sentence that is chocolate cake -- they add rhythm and syntax to an otherwise senseless sound stream.

The chocolate chips take care of the monotony issue, and the frosting prevents against overbearing richness (this is one of those counterintuitive, just-trust-me situations). I haven’t tested this theory, but I’d bet a small sum that you’d actually be able to eat more of this cake frosted than you would its naked brother.

You’ll find this same frosting on Amanda’s Dump-It Cake. The mixture of sour cream (the scary substance too easily confused with body lotion) and chocolate chips (the manna sent from Heaven above) shouldn’t work, but it does. Don't worry if it's not perfectly smooth -- this is a casual cake.

This recipe is slightly adapted from WinneAb’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting. I use a mix of all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, and I swap out some of the white sugar for brown sugar and maple syrup. A couple tips: First, make sure your sour cream is at room temperature when you mix it with the melted chocolate (otherwise, the chocolate will seize into clumps). Second, if you want to wrap and transport your cake, use toothpicks to construct a sturdy aluminum foil tent. You don't want to end up with a bare cake and heavily frosted foil.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Makes one 9- x 9-inch cake

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat or white whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the frosting:

2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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Tags: Chocolate, Dessert, Bake, Long Reads, Comfort Food