dense and fudgy American-style chocolate butter cake
three types of chocolate can be used:
dark chocolate (semisweet or bittersweet) or a
combination thereof. All three of these chocolates
make delicious butter cakes but having a basic understanding of them
will help you in choosing a recipe or to simply explain why one
chocolate cake recipe is different from another.
When used alone in cakes,
imparts a full rich chocolate flavor and dark color. Cocoa
powder can also be used in recipes with other chocolates (unsweetened or dark)
and this combination produces a cake with a more intense chocolate flavor than if
the cocoa wasn't present. Most recipes call for
the cocoa powder with the flour but to bring out its full flavor it can
be combined with a small amount of boiling water. (If you want to
try this in a recipe, substitute some of the liquid in the recipe for
boiling water.) Often times, you may notice that more butter and
leavening agent are used in recipes containing cocoa powder. This
is to offset cocoa powder's drying and strengthening affect in cakes.
There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and
Dutch-processed and it is best to use the type specified in the recipe
as the leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa powder.
Some prefer using Dutch-processed cocoa as a slight bitterness may be
tasted in cakes using natural cocoa and baking soda.
Unsweetened chocolate imparts an
intense pure chocolate flavor in cakes. This is chocolate in
its purest refined form which has no sugar
added hence its strong and bitter flavor that cannot be eaten out
of hand. Mainly used in American style cakes and in recipes that
contain lots of sugar and fat. Sometimes it is combined with dark chocolate
or cocoa powder in recipes to
further intensify the chocolate flavor in the cake. The most
common and readily available unsweetened chocolates are found in grocery
stores (Bakers and Hershey's).
Dark chocolate gives a less
intense chocolate flavor in butter cakes than unsweetened chocolate and cocoa
powder. The flavor of the chocolate in a cake is
dependent on the brand used as each has its own unique formula (type of
beans, processing technique, amount of sugar added). In making an
American style layer cake where there are so many other competing
flavors, brands found in grocery stores (Baker's, Hershey's, or
Ghirardelli) are adequate. The more expensive American brand (Scharffen
Berger) or European brands (Lindt, Callebaut, Valrhona, Cacao Barry)
have such depth and nuances of flavor that are better showcased in cakes
or tortes that have less ingredients that won't diminish or mask
their fine taste. I would recommend saving the expensive chocolate for the
cake's filling and/or
frosting where you can appreciate the smooth and creamy texture and
complexity of flavors.
No matter what chocolate you choose
for your chocolate butter cake, good ingredients and proper technique
will always ensure excellent results.