What were you doing at, say, 4 am Sunday morning? Sleeping? Hope so. I, on the other hand was spreading dark chocolate ganache frosting on a three-layer dark chocolate cake.

Madness? Some would indeed say so.

What led to this late-night baking frenzy? Well to start there was a beauty pageant, then a wedding singer, a big box of nerds (the candy kind) and the battle of Troy. And yes, it was a very long day.

Here’s the run-down:

9 am: I wake up, blissfully aware that it is Saturday. I hit the snooze button.

9:05 am: I wake up, still aware that it is Saturday. I am also suddenly aware that my alarm was set for the hour I planned on leaving the house. I say a few not nice words.

9:37 am: No time for a leisurely breakfast today!  I grab a bag of multi-grain Cheerios and run out the door to pick up my friend Shadae at the bus stop.

10:20 am: I arrive only 10 minutes late to my rendezvous point. Hurray for my mad driving skills!

10:30 am: Receive a call from Shadae who tells me she is on the “slowest bus ever.” Good, she’s running late too.

10:55 am: Shadae and I arrive to our location (The Miss Pierce County/Miss Outstanding Teen Pageant) and feel quite “under dressed” as everyone seems to be wearing their Sunday best/has perfect hair.

11 am – 1:30 pm: Pageant, pageant and still more pageant.

1:30 pm: Intermission. Thank God for pizza bagels and tea.

1:50 pm: Back to the show… oh look, a Scottish fiddler.

3:30 pm: It’s never going to end…

4 pm: The pageant is done. Our Miss Leah was awarded 2nd runner-up. Hurray! Now let’s go get a drink.

4:30 pm: Potato skins and a beer please! Hey, don’t judge; we’re celebrating.

5:30 ish: Me ~ “I have a swell idea! Let’s go see Leah’s musical and then bake a humongous chocolate cake!”

Still 5:30 ish: Leah ~ “That’s genius! And look at what I just bought” Anticipation mounts as she pulls from her purse… the movie Troy. Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, Eric Bana AND chocolate cake? This day keeps getting better and better.

8 pm: Watch Leah prance around on stage as Holly in The Wedding Singer. She was beyond fabulous (as always).

9 pm: Must stop eating from the big box of Nerds Shadae found in my car! Too much sugar!

10:45 pm: Arrive at Leah’s apartment to learn that we need 24 ounces of dark chocolate, not 11. Grrrr.

11:07 pm: Trip to neighborhood Albertson’s for “Girl’s Night” staples. I.e. chocolate, wine, chips, salsa and a few Lean Cuisine’s.

12 am: In which we begin baking. Shadae is on frosting duty. Leah “helps” by appointed herself official batter taste tester.

1 am: The frosting is in the fridge. The cake is in the oven. Begin the battle of Troy!

2 am: Eric Bana, will you marry me?

4 am: So tired. Must frost cake!

1 giant slice of chocolate cake later: Time to sleep. Forever.

The End.


Dark chocolate cake with ganache frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart and Mrs. Milman’s recipes

This is the most sinful cake I have ever eaten. Though the recipe recommends Nestle semisweet chocolate for the frosting, I used what I had on hand, which happened to be of the Ghirardelli dark variety. I decided to use dark cocoa powder in the cake too. On flour: though you can use all-purpose, try and use cake flour if you can. It lends a light, soft texture to the finished product. And don’t worry if your frosting seems not so sweet; the cake balances everything out. Also, this cake tastes even better the next day. Store in the fridge to keep the icing firm. Finally, you will have extra icing. Cupcakes perhaps?

For the cake, you will need:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1/2 cup boiling water
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

For the frosting, you will need:
24 ounces dark chocolate morsels (no more than 60% cocoa)
4 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon light corn syrup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chocolate morsels and cream in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until combined and thickened, between 20 and 25 minutes. Increase the heat to medium low; cook, stirring, 3 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Stir in corn syrup. Transfer frosting to a large metal bowl. Chill until cool enough to spread, about 2 hours, checking and stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.

Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment. Dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Set aside. (In the event you are out of parchment paper, simply dust the bottom of your pans with cocoa powder).

Sift cocoa powder into a medium bowl; whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; set aside. Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Don’t worry, you can use a hand mixer too. We did). Mix on low-speed until creamy. Gradually mix in sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, a bit at a time, mixing well between each addition; mix until well blended. Mix in vanilla.

Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks; remove parchment and re-invert. Let cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread the top of the first layer with 1 1/2 cups of frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another 1 1/2 cups of frosting. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer, bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining 3 cups frosting.

Yield ~ 10 slices of dark chocolaty goodness