Inspired: Local Chocolate Cake

You never know what little bit of information might bring inspiration — or where that could lead. Earlier this week, Food52 posted a short, useful article about how to determine “good” cocoa powder. Basically, lesser cocoa powders contain 0.5 grams of fat per 5-6 gram serving. Good quality cocoa powder contains about 1 gram of fat per 5-6 gram serving (cocoa butter is the source of fat here). More fat from cocoa butter means better quality and (generally) more flavor.

The Food52 article got me thinking: I’ve got a half dozen different brands of cocoa powder stashed in my cupboards (yeah, more about that some other time…). Which of these cocoa powders might be considered “good”? So, after digging through the cupboards and checking labels, I came up with these three:

Three cocoa powders: Scharffenberger, Green & Black, and Tcho
Scharffenberger Natural Cocoa Powder, Green & Black’s Organic Cocoa Powder, TCHO’s Natural Cocoa Powder

Now that I had not one, but three containers of good cocoa, what could I make? The obvious answer: “chocolate cake!” Somehow I’d missed celebrating National Chocolate Cake Day on Monday, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t celebrate on Friday. Hey — better late than never, especially when it comes to chocolate cake!

What I really wanted to make was a “local” chocolate cake, using as many locally produced ingredients as I could. My go-to source for a variety of delicious chocolate cake recipes? Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. I’ve used this book for baby shower cakes, birthday cakes, and even my sister’s wedding cake. Rose never lets me down — her recipes are fool-proof. I ended up choosing the Chocolate Domingo Cake because it met most of my criteria for ingredients. Plus, it’s a single-pan cake, which means quicker cleanup later (makes one 9″ cake).

As for the ingredients, my sugar, flour, baking powder, soda, vanilla, and salt were not local, but the key ingredients were:

  • TCHO cocoa powder
  • Straus sour cream
  • Straus unsalted butter
  • Local, organic brown eggs
cake ingredients
Ingredients for the Chocolate Domingo Cake, from lower left: cake flour, sugar, sour cream, butter, eggs, salt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, cocoa powder

These ingredients added most of the flavor and weight to the cake, so I’d say flavor and weight-wise, more of my ingredients were local than not.

The result was satisfying and delicious — it’s now on my easy-dessert list! (Admittedly, I’m still cooking my way through The Cake Bible, but how had I not made this cake before?!) The consistency is a bit brownie-like: fudgy, rich flavor with a tender cake crumb. This cake is definitely on the denser side, aided by the amount of butter in the recipe. Given that the butter and cocoa are the dominant flavors here, I recommend using premium versions of both.

Chocolate Domingo Cake
It’s What’s for Breakfast: Chocolate Domingo from The Cake Bible

The cake doesn’t need much to finish it; Beranbaum suggests a dusting of powdered sugar (which I did). However, given the rich buttery-cocoa flavor of the cake, next time I would serve it with a citrus sauce or marmalade. I’m thinking that a kumquat sauce would be a nice addition; the acidity and slight bitterness would balance the rich cake.

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