This Sacher torte-like cake was my favorite cake as a child. My grandmother made it for birthdays and special events and my mother continued the tradition. I don't make it for birthdays anymore but love it to finish off an elegant winter dinner, sometimes with a bit of crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream alongside. —Gail Monaghan
sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
dark brown sugar
eggs at room temperature
sour cream or crème fraiche
sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/3 cups
grand marnier or other orange liqueur
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
Heat the milk in a small pan until bubbles begin to appear around the edges. Remove from the heat. Mix the cocoa and white sugar together in a small bowl and slowly beat in the warm milk. Let cool.
Cream the butter with the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the cocoa mixture. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together and gently blend into the butter mixture. Do not overbeat.
Turn the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake shrinks slightly from the sides of the pans and springs back when touched gently in the center. Cool on a rack for a few minutes, then turn out of the pans onto the rack. Let cool completely before filling and glazing.
Lay one cake layer on a serving plate. Top with the orange filling and then the second layer.
Melt 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate with 2 teaspoons of tasteless vegetable oil and pour over cake. Pour the warm chocolate glaze over the cake, spreading with a metal spatula.
Stir the liqueur into the marmalade until the desired consistency is reached.