UPDATE: I realize I didn't give credit here where it was due. This recipe I believe comes from the King Arthur Flour website, but I actually found it in a magazine I'd had for a while...can't remember which one though.
This was good, but in the future I would like to try a different home-made cake with this.
3/4 cup unsalted butter*
1 3/4 cups Baker's Special sugar or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup cocoa
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cool water
*If you use salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/3 milk chocolate chips)
1/2 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter *(if using salted butter, omit the 1/4 tsp salt)
*1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pecan flavor, optional
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened, toasted**
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
Preheat the oven to 350̊F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
To make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, espresso powder, baking powder, and vanilla till very smooth and creamy, beating for 5 minutes. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl after you’ve added the first 2 eggs. Stir in the cocoa. Add one-third of the flour to the creamed mixture, then add half the water, another third of the flour, the remaining water, and the remaining flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally throughout this process. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake in a preheated 350̊F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
While cake cools *toast the pecans and coconuts till golden brown in a 350̊F oven **(if you use sweetened coconut, only lightly pack the brown sugar otherwise it may be too sweet). Place the pecans and coconut into separate 9" round cake pans, and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes, watching carefully towards the end, as the coconut will brown quickly. Remove from the oven, and stir the coconut to mix evenly.
Back to the cake (after 10 mins cooling): run a table knife all around the sides of the pan to loosen the edges. Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet, put the sheet, parchment-side down on top of the cake and turn the whole thing over. The cake should settle onto the cookie sheet. Lift off the pan, and allow the cake to cool for 5 more minutes. Use a 2 1/2" to 3" round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut 12 circles out of the cake. I cut three 3" cakes for our special dinner, then cut the rest 2 1/2". Next time I'll do them all 2 1/2" as they are rich.
Carefully transfer the cakes to a cooling rack, right side up, and allow them to cool. As for the leftover scraps, snack on them (baker’s privilege!) or save them for trifle.
Icing: Heat the chocolate chips and cream till the cream is very hot - not boiling. Remove from the heat, and stir till the chocolate melts and the mixture becomes smooth. Don’t panic; it’ll look very sloppy at first, but keep stirring and it’ll become a smooth, rich glaze.
Working with one cake at a time, grasp it in the center with thumb and forefinger, and roll it through the chocolate like a wheel, to coat the sides. Place the coated cake onto a piece of parchment paper, to catch any drips. Repeat with the remaining cakes. In the end I had left-over chocolate so I filled in the tops of the cakes...the more chocolate the better, I say!
To make the topping: Combine the butter, salt, half and half, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the flavors, coconut, and pecans. Let this sit a couple of minutes if it is still runny. If it gets hard before you're finished topping your cakes, just warm it a little and it should be fine. Spoon the topping evenly atop the cakes; you’ll use about 2 tablespoons for each (depending of course on the size of cake you cut).
Yield: 12 servings