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Chocolate Crème Fraîche Cake (a.k.a. The Best Chocolate Cake EVER)

yield: 2 eight-inch layers
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Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature and gently whisked
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed, strong hot coffee

For the Chocolate Crème Fraîche Frosting

    (makes around 2 1/2 cups, enough for one cake)

    • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup crème fraîche, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup half-and-half, at room temperature

    Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake

    • Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottom of each pan with parchment paper circles. Spray the top of each parchment circle and set aside.
    • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 2 cups cake flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix on low speed until throughly combined.
    • In a separate medium bowl, combine 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Whisk together gently until just combined.
    • With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the wet ingredients (from the 3rd step) to the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step). Add 1 cup hot coffee. Continue stirring on low speed until just combined, before stopping the mixer and using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix into the batter. The batter will seem really liquidy, but again, this is normal.
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out with a few crumbs and the tops of each cake bounce with a spongelike texture when poked gently with your finger. When the cakes are ready, remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes, before turning out to cool. Remove parchment paper and allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

    For the Chocolate Crème Fraîche Frosting

    • Combine 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl sitting on top of a pan with simmering water. Melt completely, using a heatproof rubber spatula to stir occasionally to release heat and fully combine the ingredients.
    • Once the chocolate and butter have fully melted, remove from heat. Whisk the mixture gently to release more heat, before whisking in 1/2 cup crème fraîche and 1/4 cup half-and-half. Continue whisking until both the crème fraîche and half-and-half are fully integrated and the frosting is a uniform dark chocolate color. Set the frosting aside for 15 minutes to cool some more, giving the frosting a gentle whisk or two every 5 minutes to allow heat to escape. After 15 minutes, use the frosting. At first, it will seem too liquidy, but the frosting will quickly cool as it is spread throughout the cake. Work quickly to frost the cake before the frosting cools completely — it will harden as it cools.