mike kostyo

I know food.

the famous gourmet chocolate cake

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Have you thought about what you might get that special someone? You do have that special someone, right? I hope so. There really isn't time to find one at this point. Better luck next year, er, in 2013! Hope all of the fish in the sea aren't taken! I've heard things about overfishing!

Unless you are one of those people who is like, "Valentine's Day is a conspiracy perpetrated by the secret agents at Hallmark Cards, Inc. because they want to use love to poison the water supply and also I don't have a special someone and if I did I wouldn't buy them anything." In that case, you can relax a bit. I mean, you probably should relax a bit. But you have a little more time to get your rant memorized before February 14.

I'm just kidding! I mean, I'm jk-ing! That's how you have to say it now. LOL! JK! STFU! That's how the kids are saying it. That's how the kids are saying everything. Oh, the kids. Anyways, it's not almost around the corner. It's in like five or six months or something. But you know what is around the corner? Halloween! Autumn! And then Thanksgiving! And Christmas! Or whatever you celebrate! It might be around the corner if it's in December! Halloween is just around the corner, and Thanksgiving is just a bit of a ways up, and Christmas is about a block away and Valentine's Day is a few blocks away. That's how the upcoming holidays are situated if you want to keep going with this map metaphor thing, which you probably do. You are a spatial learner.

Anyways, I am very excited about these developments. You know how people complain when they put the decorations up in Target way before the holiday? You should. It's a very popular thing to complain about. On the one hand, I get it a little bit, like when in July the stores start putting out the Back-to-School stuff and it's like, "Already!" Particularly, well really only, if you are a little kid, and enrolled in school, which you should be because I think you have to be, because what a terrible reminder. "School's out! But it's almost back in!" But also I think that they can't put the Halloween and fall stuff up fast enough, because Halloween and fall are the best. God I hate summer. So bright. So hot. Ugh. If I was a mammal that hibernated I would do the sleeping in the summer and enjoy the fall and winter. And probably be dead. Anyway, thesis: October, November and December are the best. The other months suck. Burn them up.

So, now that it's almost Halloween, you should make this cake. This would be a very good cake for Halloween. Or whenever. But also Halloween. I don't know why, I guess because it's deep and dark, like a graveyard on Halloween night, that you are walking through, all by yourself, because your friends dared you, and you had to take the dare, I mean come on, you don't want them thinking you are a scaredy-cat, but maybe you kind of are a scaredy-cat, now that you are in the graveyard, because what was that noise, it's probably nothing right, nope it's probably a serial killer ghost.

Anyways, I made this cake for a coworker's birthday who does not like fruit fillings in cake and she is allergic to nuts, so that kind of limited the options. But limits make us creative, according to somebody. Hahahaha, I made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. So, yup, very creative. This chocolate cake, though, is the best. Just like October, November and December. By now it's fairly famous, as far as fame and cake goes. It's a recipe from Chef Ed Kasky that was printed in the March 1999 issue of Gourmet (R.I.P., maybe you will see it in the cemetery) and now has something like 1500 glowing reviews on Epicurious. And they are right. I've made it a few times now and it's certainly my second favorite chocolate cake of all time (after this one). It's rich and moist, without being cloying and weirdly gummy or wet.

Also, do you have an oven thermometer? If not, get one. They are very cheap! And crazy important! It seems like everyone's ovens are around 50 degrees off, high or low. Mine is high. A few of the comments on Epicurious talk about how the cake overflowed the pan or came out too moist to work with and fell apart. It's because their oven is off! I'm just kidding. It could be lots of things. They might just be really bad at baking. But it might be that their oven is off. For $5, at least you can make sure it's not that and that you are cooking all of your baked goods at the proper temperature, and, for this cake, that it's not so wet you can't lift it, cut it, stack it, trim it, bop it, etc. Also, Chef Kasky calls for 10-inch round, 2-inch high pans. I've used 9-inch pans and it works fine, but it gets close to the top, so I wouldn't go any smaller. But, of course, you shouldn't fill the pans too much anyway. If you have leftover batter, don't just fill the pans to the top, because it's just going to be on the bottom of your oven. And then it turns to black smoke and fills your kitchen. I'm guessing! Finally, I always use Trader Joe's 5-lb. bars of dark Belgian chocolate in my baking. For the price, it's the best. But you can use whatever you like. I don't care.

the famous gourmet double chocolate layer cake

adapted from gourmet/chef ed kasky

cake ingredients
+ 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
+ 1 1/2 cups hot, brewed coffee
+ 3 cups sugar
+ 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
+ 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
+ 2 teaspoons baking soda
+ 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
+ 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
+ 3 large eggs
+ 3/4 cup canola oil
+ 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
+ 1 teaspoon vanilla 

frosting ingredients
+ 1 cup heavy cream
+ 2 teaspoons sugar
+ 1 teaspoon salt 
+ 2 tablespoons corn syrup
+ 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
+ 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
+ 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

+ chocolate shavings or curls for garnish

cake recipe
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

Butter the sides and bottoms of your baking pans. Line the bottom with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter the top of the parchment paper (this step is very important to ensure your cake layers release).

In a small bowl, combine the 3 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and 1 1/2 cups hot coffee. Set aside, stirring occasionally to create a smooth mixture.

In a large bowl, stir together the 3 cups of sugar, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. 

In your stand mixer, or in a bowl using your hand mixer, beat the 3 eggs until they are light yellow and thickened. Slowly add the 3/4 cup canola oil, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the chocolate/coffee mixture to the eggs. Beat until combined well. Turn the mixer off, add the sugar/flour/cocoa mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. The batter will be very thin, for cake batter at least.

Bake in the center of the oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about an hour (check at 50 minutes, but it may take up to 70 minutes).

When ready, cool the layers completely on cooling racks. After they have cooled, run a paring knife around the edge of the pan. Invert the cakes onto cooling racks. Slowly remove the wax or parchment paper. Set aside.

frosting recipe
In a medium saucepan, bring the 1 cup of heavy cream, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat.

Add the 1 pound of chopped dark chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the pieces of butter, a few at a time, stirring each time until smooth. 

Transfer the frosting to a bowl and let it cool, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth and spreadable. You may have to refrigerate the mixture for a while to achieve the right consistency.

Spread a good amount of the frosting on top of one of the cake layers. Spread flat to an inch away from the edge. This will be the filling.

Place the second cake layer on top of the first. Transfer some of the frosting to a small bowl. Use this frosting to spread a very thin layer over the entire cake. This is the crumb coat, which will prevent crumbs from mixing into your final frosting layer. Refrigerate the cake for an hour.

When the crumb coat has hardened, frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting. You can use a bench scraper to get a nice, smooth layer on the edge of your cake. Garnish with the chocolate shavings or curls.

At this point, you can cover and chill the cake, or serve at room temperature.