the appetizer:

CakeLove, How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown, shows you how make the best cakes with excerpts like The Secret to the Best Chocolate Cake and recipes like Chocolate Pound Cake and Chocolate Apricot Pound Cake.

I Love Desserts

The Secret to the
Best Chocolate Cake

by Warren Brown

Cocoa Powder


At CakeLove we always use unsweetened cocoa powder in our chocolate cakes. Melted solid chocolate is great for brownies, but I stopped using melted chocolate in my cakes within the first few months of baking because it's too heavy for cake. Every batch I baked with melted chocolate had a heavy, thick crust that was totally unappealing. Instead of adding melted unsweetened solid chocolate to the batter, I combine the cocoa powder with the dry ingredients. It gives me a great chocolate flavor and a rich but light, moist texture.

The commonly available unsweetened cocoa powder has 10% to 12% cocoa butter, which is alright but it also may be a little dry and dull. In my experience, there seems to be something in the chocolate liquor, the flavor-rich brown part of chocolate, that just doesn't bond with other fats as well as it does with cocoa butter. Bumping up the quantity of dairy butter isn't enough, adding cream makes the cake sticky, and vegetable oil merely coats everything in its path, making it feel moist when it's really just greasy. I've fiddled with chocolate cakes for years and still haven't found anything that works quite as well as unsweetened cocoa powder, with 22% to 24% cocoa butter.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pistoles



The chocolate that I prefer for most recipes for this book is bittersweet chocolate pistoles. I like their flavor, size, and convenience. They melt evenly, taste sensational, and offer a rich brown color for any application. Pistoles are available at specialty gourmet shops and online (see Resources, page 218 of the book).

In general, pistoles are easy to work with because they're easy to measure and come in varying percentages of chocolate mass. Giant blocks of chocolate are good to have on hand when irregular shapes are required, but life is a lot easier with the pistole. Please note that chocolate chips aren't quite the same—most are semisweet or milk chocolate and won't melt without some graininess.


Buy CakeLove




This page created August 2008