I'll tell you the truth: I kind of fainted when I got a personal email from cookbook author and baking legend Carole Bloom. After all, I consider her book The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections: A Comprehensive Guide With More Than 800 Definitions and 86 Classic Recipes to be an essential reference guide, and every other thing little thing she's done is magic, too.
But for real, there it was: an invitation to check out her newest book, Intensely Chocolate. With a name like that, what wasn't to love? Sign me up!
Well. Here's the first recipe I tried. Her version is for "Individual Chocolate Bundt Cakes With White Chocolate Passion Fruit Frosting", but you know, I'm not too-too fancy, so I baked the cake batter in a single pan instead, and topped it with delectable brown sugar frosting and Peanut Butter M+M's. But my baking experiment only serves to prove Bloom's prowess: this recipe is easily dressed up or down, and is completely delicious either pinkies-out fancy or footloose and fancy-free.
Chocolate Cake Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting and Deeply Un-Fancy M+M's
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine grained sea salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream (I used yogurt)
For the topping
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Position the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350. Coat an 8x8 or 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray, and line with parchment paper.
- Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over low heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula to ensure even melting. Remove from heat and set to the side for a moment.
- Over a bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Add the salt and toss into the blend.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the flat beater attachment until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the superfine sugar and brown sugar and beat together well, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Use a fork to lightly beat the eggs and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Add to the butter mixture. Mix together, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and again. The mixture may look curdled at first, but as you continue to mix and scrape down the bowl, it will become smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and sour cream in alternate stages, making for about 4-5 total stages of adding ingredients. Mix thoroughly after each addition.
- Add the melted chocolate and blend completely.
- Pour into your prepared pan.
- Bake for 35-50 minutes (since the original recipe for bundt cakes, it called for a bake time of 25-30 minutes, but baking it in a pan takes longer). It's done when a cake tester / toothpick comes out mostly clean.
- Remove from oven and transfer to rack to cool completely before cutting. I topped mine with frosting AFTER cutting.
- While you wait for the cakes to cool, make yo'self some frosting. Pour the heavy cream into a medium bowl, and whip with an electric mixer. Add sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder; whip until stiff and spreadable. Refrigerate until needed.
- Top each cake with a dollop, and with candy if desired (I had extra m+m's from making cornflake wreaths so used them on top).