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eating or making?

Recipe: chocolate espresso fudge cake

When we first moved in together, Jeremy used to complain about how much time was spent preparing meals. He really liked the idea of bachelor chow, sort of like Kaweah’s dry kibbles – same thing every meal. No hassle, no fuss, no mystery. He still talks about it like some concept that would free up a few hours a day, that is until I mention sushi, or pan-seared scallops, or crab, or chocolate or… I can see the appeal of chow, to get more hours in the day. But the problem for me is that I would miss the prep more than the eating. I didn’t used to think so, but after spending months cooking and baking things I couldn’t eat during chemo, I realized that for as much as I love to eat the food, I love the making of it even more. I wonder among foodies if they love the cooking or the eating more?

Case in point. Today I made Jeremy’s (belated) birthday cake. I’ve been wanting to make this for a while, but between the heat of summer, health issues, and getting stuff done in between health issues – I haven’t had a chance. Today we had rain (and snow in the high country!) with temps flirting with the 30s. Nice.

melting unsweetened chocolate

whipping eggs, butter, and sugar into the fluffiest of batters

This is Marcel Desaulnier’s Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake from one of my favorite cake books: Death by Chocolate. I’ve made it several times at sea-level, but the degree of involvement made me reluctant to try it at elevation until now. I just can’t stand tanking a recipe because of elevation, but I especially hate to tank a recipe that requires multiple components and almost 1.5 pounds of good quality dark chocolate. I replaced the cake flour with all-purpose flour and reduced the leavening by 75%. Seemed to work just fine (the cake is delicious on its own).

incorporating dry ingredients and sour cream

into the oven we go

Although the instructions for the batter may seem tedious, I highly recommend following them because the additional beating transforms the batter into a light and fluffy mix. Seriously. I had no troubles with the cake (with my adjustments) except that my oven isn’t completely level and well – that’s me being a lazy bum who’d rather trim it off than try to level the stupid oven… No worries.

remove the cakes from their pans after cooling

chocolate, chopped unsweetened chocolate, and espresso powder for buttercream frosting

Instead of the buttercream frosting that Marcel gives us, I reverted to my trusty Swiss meringue buttercream frosting (ha, you thought I was going to say Swiss army knife? I like those too). Same ingredients, different technique. I’ll list both in the recipe below.

tried and true: swiss meringue

make that chocolate espresso swiss meringue buttercream frosting

Layered cake assembly is becoming a no-brainer for me and I go on auto-pilot. My problem usually comes when it is time to decorate. I generally go with simple edible decorations. I like to tell folks that I like simple because simple is elegant (tis true). Well, that’s only half the story. I like simple because that’s about the limitation of my decoration skills. I have a gazillion piping tips and only know how to use about 3 of them. Go Jen!

layers of cake, buttercream frosting, and chocolate espresso ganache

applying the crumb coat

Once the cake was done and photographed, we hurried over to our neighbor’s house with half of it. Marcus’ parents are visiting (they are so cute!) and I know they enjoy desserts – so it was a good excuse to get rid of a large portion of cake. I had to warn the adults that there was a good deal of espresso in the cake, so if they’re wondering why the kids are talking 100 mph… Next, we took a quarter of the cake to our other neighbors and good friends, Tom and Kellie. They love the goodies I bring and I love giving them the goodies. Back at home, Jeremy could finally sit down to enjoy a slice of his birthday cake. And it’s also a celebration of something else… something I’ll be able to share with you all in a week! [No no no, don’t even THINK that I’m preggers. Batteries not included in my biological clock and we are perfectly happy and sane that way.]

ready to pipe ganache and buttercream

that is one buzzing birthday cake

Some people might be upset about having their birthday cake given away to the neighborhood, but I don’t want to *kill* Jeremy. After all, he hasn’t finished the last cake and he told me this evening as we walked arm in arm in the dark back to our house that he just can’t put away that much cake the way he did in his youth. Well, my dear man is still as slim and handsome as the day he caught my eye sixteen years ago. But in those sixteen years I have discovered that beyond his charming good looks, he is the finest man I’ve ever met – someone who is always there for me, always curious about the universe, always kind to small children and animals, always making me laugh and smile, always astounding me with his sensitivity and insight, always thinking, always paying attention, always caring. Happy Birthday, my beloved Jeremy. Thank you for being amazing.

caffeine, butter, sugar, and love

Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake
[print recipe]
modified from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers

chocolate cake
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsps unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsps unsalted butter, melted (for pan prep)
2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose flour at 8500 feet elevation)
2 tsps cake flour (for pan prep)
2 tsps baking soda (I used 1/2 tsp baking soda at 8500 feet elevation)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups light brown sugar, very tightly packed
4 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream

espresso ganache
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps unsalted butter
2 tbsps granulated sugar
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp instant espresso powder

chocolate espresso buttercream
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tsps instant espresso powder
1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar

Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate in the top half of the double boiler and heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Lightly coat the insides of 2 9×2-inch cake pans with melted butter. Flour each pan with 1 tsp cake flour, shaking out the excess. Combine together in a sifter the remaining 2 cups of flour, the baking soda, and salt. Sift onto wax paper and set aside. Combine the brown sugar and 8 tablespoons of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on low for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and beat on high for another 1.5 minutes. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating on high for 30 seconds after adding each egg. Scrape down the bowl after each addition, then beat on high for 2 more minutes. Add the melted chocolate and the vanilla. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then scrape down the bowl. Heat 1 cup water to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan. While the water is heating, operate the mixer on low while adding a third of the sifted flour and 1/2 cup sour cream; allow to mix for 30 seconds. Add another third of the flour and the remaining sour cream and mix for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining sifted flour and the boiling water and mix for an additional 30 seconds before removing the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter, until it is smooth and thoroughly combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans, spreading it evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes at room temperature. Invert onto cooling racks and refrigerate uncovered until needed. (I didn’t refrigerate mine).

Ganache: Heat the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and espresso. Let sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.

Buttercream: Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, and 2 teaspoons espresso powder in top half of double boiler. Allow to heat for 8 to 10 minutes, transfer to a stainless steel bowl and stir until smooth. Set aside until needed.

Marcel’s method: Place 1 pound of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat the butter on low for 2 minutes then on medium for 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the butter to a large stainless steel bowl. Set aside until needed. Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 5 egg whites and 1 cup sugar in the top half of the double boiler. Gently whisk the egg whites until the reach a temperature of 120°F, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the heated egg whites to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Remove from mixer. Fold melted chocolate into the butter, using a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine. Fold in the whipped egg whites until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Jen’s method: Place egg whites and sugar in a Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Set bowl over 1 inch of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently until mixture reaches 140°F. Remove from heat and set on Kitchenaid mixer with balloon whisk. Whisk on speed 4 until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while – should be cooler than your hand). Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached, fold in cooled chocolate until well incorporated.

Assembly: Trim off domed tops of the two cakes. Slice each cake horizontally into 2 equal layers. Place the top layer of a cake onto the bottom of a closed springform pan. Evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of buttercream over cake in the pan. Place a layer of cake over the buttercream and gently press into place. Pour 1 1/4 cups of the ganache over the cake layer, spreading evening to the edges. Refrigerate remaining ganache. Place the top layer of the second cake on the top of the ganache and press into place. Spread 1 1/2 cups buttercream evenly over this layer. Place the remaining bottom cake layer, cut side down, onto the buttercream and gently press into place. Cover the entire cake and pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. Fill a pastry bag fitted with star tip with 1 1/2 cups buttercream. Remove the cake from the freezer. Cut around inside edges to release the cake. Using a cake spatula, evenly spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Fill a pastry bag fitted with star tip with remaining ganache. Decorate the cake as desired. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting and serving (I didn’t do this). Bring slices to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

98 nibbles at “eating or making?”

  1. jess says:

    That’s sweet. Ah ha! Pun! :)

  2. Rosa says:

    That’s such a beautiful cake! Magnificent! You are a courageous woman…



  3. marion says:

    a wonderful cake and a wonderful love declaration :)
    happy birthday Jeremy and thank you so much Jen !

  4. Kitt says:

    Oh, to be your neighbor!

  5. clumbsycookie says:

    Beautiful! Nothing better that some caffeine, chocolate and love!

  6. Marija says:

    Such a beautiful cake! I too enjoy preparing food, and the best part is arranging everything for taking photos. The moment I see them on my computer I get overwhelmed by some incredible feeling :)

  7. barbara says:

    I know just how you feel Jen. The making is often more exciting than the eating. A beautiful cake. Birthday greetings to Jeremy and also to yourself whenever it is this month.

  8. kat says:

    I’m surrounded by people whose marriages are falling apart (what is it about 20 years that makes that happen?). It’s wonderful to hear someone speaking so glowingly about her spouse. I hope you have many more years and meals together.

  9. Lauren says:

    Beautiful cake!

    I definitely agree that it is the preparation that draws me to baking. I could take or leave half of the things I make. I just want to see people enjoy eating it!

  10. Sarah says:

    And I thought the flourless cake looked amazing! This looks so perfect. Especially the chocolate espresso frosting…I bet I could eat that by the spoonful.

    Glad you were able to share with friends. Don’t really know any of our neighbors yet…so I don’t really make cake all that often! Although I might be able to make an exception for this one…

  11. Bridget says:

    Your simple decorations are very elegant. I’m the same way, I have a box full of cake decorating supplies that I definitely want to get comfortable using some day.

    You’ve been alluding to this good news, and I can’t wait to hear it!

  12. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    I can’t believe how perfect it looks. Stunning, as always, and happy belated to Jeremy!

  13. Mary Coleman says:

    Just lovely. He’s a lucky guy. Bachelor kibble and all.

  14. Jenny says:

    Beautiful cake. Happy Birthday to Jeremy. I, too, love the preparation and not so much the eating.

  15. Debbie Green says:

    What a beautiful cake. Sounds like you have a wonderful husband. I like both the preparation of food and the eating part!!!! I just have a habit of getting frustrated if a recipe does not turn out exactly how I expect!!!

  16. Jeni says:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about! That cake is BEAUTIFULLY decorated!

    Oh and I completely love food preparation. It’s what my Sundays are for!

  17. Lan says:

    the cake looks decadent and your ode to Jeremy was so sweet! :)

    i love the food preparation. i rarely rarely actually eat the sweet things i make, unless it’s from you and then i have to sample. i try to bake ONE item a week, just due to not being able to consume it all fast enough and financially, i can’t keep churning out food! and that is hard because i miss all the mixing, ingredients mingling and cussing at the oven.

    have a great weekend! ~Lan

  18. Fiona says:

    Gorgeous! I *knew* there’d be more cake this week! You realize, of course, that if the cake keeps you up you can just eat more cake. Who needs sleep?

    As for prep, it depends on what I’m making. But there are plenty of things I make that I have little desire to eat. Once finished, I’m only too happy to hand off the product and enjoy a bowl of cheese puffs. I realize that’s gross, but I love them.

  19. Judith says:

    God, that looks fantastic. I copied down some recipes from that book in the library once but haven’t gotten around to making any. This is a little kick in the butt, hehe.

  20. Bria says:

    Hmm that’s a tough one. I think I’d have to say I love the eating more, but the cooking isn’t very far behind. Though having said that, I do find myself baking a lot but not necessarily eating it (for the sake of my thighs).

    Great looking cake- you make it look so easy.

  21. Laura says:

    OK if you can’t decorate, well, then, I’d hate to see what you say for any of my cakes! That’s gorgeous!

    I like the cooking as much as the eating in most cases. Sometimes I like baking more than eating–but not often. ;) And I don’t like grilling outside at all. But I am with you–having my food just miraculously appear would be very depressing.

  22. Katie says:

    It’s so beautiful. And your post gives me great hope, because while I LOVE the acts of planning, preparing and cooking a meal – and equate them with love – my honey could eat ramen noodles and ice cream three meals a day for the rest of his life and think nothing of it. I’m hopeful that he, like Jeremy, will learn to be patient….

  23. Nicole says:

    What a beautiful cake. And Happy Birthday Jeremy!

    Also, if your neighbors ever put their house up for sale let me know… :)

  24. Anita says:

    Beautiful cake – I’ve never taken on the challenge of high-altitude baking but your results give me hope:) And I’m with you – cake decorating is just not my thing. People ask if I can make wedding cakes for them, and I always say, “about half the people in my pastry class wanted to be wedding cake designers, let me refer you to them.” They’ve got all the fondant and edible glitter and ten thousand tips and all the patience I’ll never have! I’d just rather bake the cake and eat it:) Your husband is a lucky, lucky man – so happy for you guys!

  25. Cindy in Canada says:

    Amazing Jen!
    HB to Jeremy, enjoy your life, and thanks for sharing with us!

  26. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    That is truly one of the loveliest cakes I’ve ever seen! It belongs in the window of a fancy bake shop. Jeremy is one lucky guy to have you, and it sounds like you have found a real gem in him. I’m so glad that you’re up and about again. Let’s hope that this time, it’s for good!

  27. susieshomemade says:

    I just recently found your site and I love it!! I am going to make this cake someday soon!!! Beautiful!!!

  28. Whitney says:

    Wow that looks absolutely perfect and amazing. I can’t wait to make a cake that beautiful!

  29. Irene says:

    It’s a beautiful cake, and beautiful sentiments. Made me want to call my husband and give him a hug and a kiss. :)

  30. Lindsey says:

    I’m going to have a chocolate heart attack, I love it! I also love the decorating job you did!

  31. mimi says:

    what a beautiful cake! and what beautiful words to thank him! i definitely want to make this cake, maybe for my man’s next birthday!

  32. Jillian says:

    Definitely the making. Every bit is building the whole. And there is never the same amount of time savoring it while eating. When I bake and cook, its definitely my happy place. I wish all could go there. I wish I had more foodie friends so we could go there together. Thank you for pointing out the obvious!

  33. Pam says:

    What a birthday cake! It looks beautiful and mouth watering good! Jeremy sounds like a gem – you are both lucky to have found each other.

  34. Nate says:

    You did a great job on that cake. Jeremy is a lucky guy.

    If it’s a “Death by Chocolate” cake, then eating only half of it wouldn’t kill him – it would only be a half-death!

  35. Kristen says:

    Oh my goodness…. this is exactly what I am craving today! What a beautiful cake. Happy birthday to Jeremy!

  36. Heather Kay says:

    This looks wonderful!!!
    Sorry to be so dumb, is espresso powder something you can only order? Does it have another name? I have looked for this ingredient with no luck. Please help!

  37. Melissa says:

    What a gorgeous cake. Your photos are so wonderful, Jen, that it’s as if I can taste it through the screen.

    Your description of Jeremy was so loving. Many happy returns to him (if a bit late!).

  38. Margie says:

    Oh my goodness, the two favorite food ‘groups’ in this person’s world….chocolate and coffee. I have died and gone to heaven. This is definitely being added to my ‘must do’ list. My youngest LOVES chocolate cake just like her mama. Thanksgiving is only six weeks away and this sounds like the opportune time to create this little masterpiece. :)

    Oh, but does this mean I have to share? ;) (I’ll bet your neighbors LOVE seeing you coming up the pathway).

  39. Grey Street Girl says:

    Wow, what a gorgeous cake! You can really tell you put all your love into it.

    Happy Birthday to Jeremy!

  40. peabody says:

    Marcel can never stear you wrong, he is my idol.
    The cake looks amazing. Happy birthday to the boy.

  41. Samantha says:

    I’ve never thought about that before, cooking or eating – I know though I much more prefer the process of cooking/baking it’s so relaxing and therapeutic, more than the eating itself. But what I do enjoy almost as much as the preparation is being able to watch others enjoy my creations, something sweet about it. This cake looks delish by the way!

  42. Lori says:

    And speaking of amazing. That is one delicious looking cake. How sweet are you. A straight shooter with a sweet heart!

  43. Holly says:

    Happy Birthday! That is one excellent cake!

  44. zoe / puku says:

    happy september birthdays to you both, and this cake looks very lovely Jen! delicious + I think your decorating skillz are just fine!

    now that you ask me to think about it, I think I am with you on enjoying the preparation side a bit more, although of course I am not adverse to the eating by any means! but I have certainly had the itch to make something that was not necessarily related to the itch to eat or a craving of any sort, and I have done my share of baking ridiculous amounts of something (sometimes in the middle of the night when I’m stressed and can’t sleep), just to take it all into school/the office the next day.

    yeah, in fact chopping, mixing, baking… it’s very therapeutic to take a bunch of ingredients and pull them together into something delicious, and particularly when life is stressful: I like knowing there is something I can kick ass at, something I have control over and can create something beautiful and share it with others. power to the kitchen!

  45. Lisa says:

    Simply put, you are an artist.

  46. Cynthia says:

    Jen, I was sharing this post with my 20 year old daughter who just started South Beach …again. She said,”I wish I could eat a piece right now”. The ultimate compliment my dear. Stunning cake.

  47. Mrs Ergül says:

    Whoa! What a lovely message you had written for Jeremy! Sweet loving couple! Can’t wait for the good news!

    A beautiful cake Jen! Take care! xxoo

  48. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Aww. That was sweet. The cake and why you love your hubby. I’m sure a big part of enjoying the prep work is because you know that Jeremy really appreciates you and the effort you put into it. I actually like cooking up multi-course dinners and stuff, but only for people who really appreciate me. I often don’t even eat that much after all that work either.

  49. Sarah says:

    Jen, that cake looks amazing. My husband will be begging me to make this for him if he saw these photos! Prep vs. Eating…for me I would have to choose the prep work. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to eat good food but there is something about putting time, effort, and love into a meal and seeing people truly enjoy it.

  50. Manggy says:

    Ahh, love and chocolate, two of the most wonderful things, together, in cake form! Pfft, your decorating skills are great, Jen. Marcel (first-name basis, natch) would be very honored to have that gracing the cover of DBC. Happy birthday to you both!

    Cooking and eating has its ups and downs. Of course there’s the stress-out factor of cooking, but it gives a lot of satisfaction. Eating has the expanding waistline conundrum and really, who can eat more than a few slices of any cake, no matter how good? Sharing gives value to the cooking and spreads the calories around! :)

  51. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Okay, 50 comments down the line…

    My OH sounds a little like Jeremy in terms of the whole bachelor chow thing. I LOVE the making of food – otherwise I’d just order takeaways and make packet cakes. It’s so much more than just the eating…there’s also the eating of the cake batter…

    Gorgeous cake, and personally I think the piping on top looks amazing! :)

  52. caviar and codfish says:

    caffeine, butter, sugar, and love

    What more could anyone want?

  53. kamaile says:

    Beautiful cake! I love your photographs. They are awesome. :)

  54. gwendolyn says:

    I am definitely in the category of enjoying making more than eating my own works. Partly because I love seeing the reaction of others when they are enjoying what I’ve made. I think the people at my office love the idea of my blog simply because it means more homemade goodies are making an appearance at work.

    Not sure I’m ready for something like that gorgeous cake, though.
    : )

  55. Mollie says:

    This cake looks amazing! And I think you and Jeremy are both very very lucky. :)

  56. Sally says:

    It must be the fact I’m getting old….

    the other day I finished the book “Three cups of tea”, and was sobbing my way through it…. I am now 75% through with “The Kite Runner”, and needed a few Kleenex to be able to turn some of the pages

    I thought I was safe reading cook blogs, but there we go…. you made me all teary eyed again!

    I agree with Mollie, you are both very lucky, and you deserve all the happiness in the known and unknown universe!

  57. jenyu says:

    Jess – good one!

    Rosa – thanks, my dear!

    Marion – thank you.

    Kitt – it’d be great if you lived next door (but then you couldn’t grow all those awesome tomatoes).

    Clumbsycookie – Jeremy agrees wholeheartedly.

    Marija – the final plating is my favorite part, although not so much the photographing for me ;)

    Barbara – thank you, sweetie.

    Kat – that’s so sweet of you to say. Thanks! It’s too bad about marriages falling apart – but it’s so common these days. So sad too :(

    Lauren – I feel the same!

    Sarah – oh, I wish you had been here to finish off the extra buttercream. I can’t stomach that stuff. Cake is a great way to get to know your neighbors!

    Bridget – you and me both. I need to find some time to sit down and practice with the different tips! News coming soon :)

    Joanne – not perfect, but I think the fact that it’s chocolate makes everyone *think* it’s perfect – ha ha ha!

    Mary – ha! Thanks :)

    Jenny – good thing we like prep more than eating or we’d all be huge!

    Debbie – thank you :) I think I like the prep of sweets more than the eating and the prep and eating of savories almost the same.

    Jeni – you’re sweet. Thanks.

    Lan – me too, especially the cussing part! heeeeee! thanks!

    Fiona – yeah, if I had more than a bite of that cake I’d be chattering along at 100 mph and Jeremy would be stuffing his pillow in his ear. Cheese puffs? My kryptonite is potato chips. That’s why when I go grocery shopping, if I have a craving for snacks I’ll buy something I hate so that I’ll nibble one when I’m hungry – decide it sucks – then stop eating. Dumb trick, I know…

    Judith – I’m a huge Marcel fan. He’s a good man and great baker. Love his recipes! I hope you try one soon.

    Bria – aw, thanks! I’m glad I am not a huge fan of sweets otherwise that could spell disaster :)

    Laura – well my dear, I don’t post the ugly stuff ;) ha ha. I try to keep things simple because if you screw it up, it’s easier to fix.

    Katie – oh no!! Not ramen and ice cream (well, okay – ice cream)!! When you guys come to visit us, I will cook for you or we can cook together and your guy will be all, “I love this!” and he won’t even realize he had to wait for his meal because he’ll be playing with Kaweah and recommending what gear we should be upgrading when he goes through our gear room :)

    Nicole – oh god, I wish you’d move into the ghetto neighbor’s house right now. They make all of us insane! :)

    Anita – that is awesome that you know folks who DO make wedding cakes! I’ve done a couple of wedding cakes, but they were just cakes, not the traditional wedding cake (this was not a trad wedding – which is probably why I love those two people!) Okay, I can’t wait for the day when I get to see what wedding cake YOU choose :) xxoo I’m gonna order your book soon!

    Cindy – thank you, that’s so sweet!

    Susan – pshaw! You make me blush. Honey, if you ever come this way – I’ll gladly make this cake for you!

    Susiehomemade – thanks!

    Whitney – it’s not hard to do. If I can decorate it, you can definitely make it too.

    Irene – awwwww! I hope you did!

    Lindsey – thank you :)

    Mimi – I hope you do and I hope he loves it!

    Jillian – I totally agree. And I wish I had more foodie friends nearby to cook and bake and share with. We foodies gotta stick together!

    Pam – thanks, that’s very kind of you to say.

    Nate – ha ha! Good one! :)

    Kristen – thank you!

    Heather – not dumb at all! I buy Medaglia D’oro instant espresso powder. I find mine at Whole Foods. Good stuff and awesome for baking. Here’s a link (scroll down to the instant espresso powder):

    Melissa – thanks :)

    Margie – this would be a terrific way to finish off a t-giving dinner. Although my own preference is for pumpkin pie over chocolate any day ;) but it wasn’t my birthday cake, heeeeeee! Our neighbors love it when we call ;)

    GSG – aww, thanks hon.

    Peabody – yup! Love that dude! thanks lady :)

    Samantha – yes, I too like feeding others and watching them enjoy what I’ve made. That tops any eating I could do (well – except sushi!).

    Lori – oh, you are too kind! Thank you, dear.

    Holly – thanks! He gave it a thumbs up!

    Zoe/puku – therapeutic indeed. I think baking and cooking helped to keep me from losing my mind during chemo. I have to agree with you 100%.

    Lisa – that’s sweet of you to say. I think I’m just good at knowing my limitations (decorating being one of them!)

    Cynthia – thank you!

    Mrs E – just a few more days! xxoo

    WC – Totally know what you mean. I love to cook for folks who appreciate it, but we’ve entertained some real duds in the past… well, you only need to entertain them once to know they aren’t going to be invited back! And why is it that I’m always starving after our guests leave? I usually eat my dinner AFTER they are gone :) Sounds like we are similar in the way we entertain!

    Sarah – I hear ya, sistah! I hope you make the cake for him :)

    Mark – thanks sweetie. I think I like the cooking/baking and the giving way more than the eating. Yes, spreading it around to our neighbors and friends is part of my ARP (ass reduction plan). It’s all relative ;)

    Laura – ha ha ha, the cake batter! You are so funny.

    C&C – I’d like to replace the caffeine, butter, and sugar with sushi ;)

    Kamaile – thank you!

    Gwendolyn – that’s awesome and I am with you on the sharing. hilarious that your office peeps like your blog because they get to chow down :)

    Mollie – thanks chica!

    Sally – oh, I didn’t mean to make you cry :) Wish I could hand you a piece of cake, but Jeremy polished off the last of it this morning :( thanks, dear!

  58. Sonya says:

    IT’s too much !!! this cake is the way to paradis !!!

    Be sure that I will try to bake it Thanks


  59. Tartelette says:

    That sure is one gorgeous looking cake for one great man! Is there anything better than love, coffee and chocolate…I think not :)
    You both are lucky to have each other.

  60. jennywenny says:

    Wow, that is some beautiful birthday cake!! I have to find a reason to give it a try! I think your decoration is always impeccable, much better than doing wierd things with nasty tasting fondant, or strange wilton frosting just to make it look foofy!

  61. Patricia Scarpin says:

    you are such a dear! That is a beautiful post, and you are lucky to have one another.
    Oh, boy… I wish I lived nearby. ;)

  62. Erin says:

    This looks absolutely fabulous! I love chocolate and coffee together and this looks like the perfect way to combine it. It looks pretty too!

  63. Fan says:


    I’m a fan of your web site. You take care and time to craft everything so beautifully. I’m just very curious – how do you layer the frosting on the cake without the crumbs sticking to your cake? I haven’t decorated my cake successfully because putting the icing has been the hardest. What is your technique?

  64. Tina says:

    I’m so happy to have come across your fabulous site!

    First off, I think the prep is always as much fun as the reward. I know how Jeremy feels (well, to be more specific, my SigOth is in total agreement with him) but for me the cooking is therapy in and of itself. And if we eat at 10pm….well, at least we eat well.

    Also, your cake looks PHENOMENAL. And the one before it! And now I’m going to dig through your site and find what other fantabulous looking things you’ve been up to!!

    Love it, thank you.

  65. Chez US says:

    Happy bday Jeremy! Beautiful story, Jen! Very lovely!

    The college meal days, reminded me of Lenny … sometimes he thinks it “takes” too long; but, then you would not even know that by how quickly it disappears!

  66. bee says:

    that is spectacular. fitting for a loved one’s birthday. espresso and chocolate is always a fantastic combo. lucky neighbours.

  67. jenyu says:

    Sonya – hope you enjoy the cake!

    Tartelette – you’re very sweet to say, dear :)

    Jennywenny – find any old reason and make sure to share it with lots of friends (or run a marathon afterward if you eat the whole thing yourself!) Thanks!

    Patricia – I wish you did too, I think my neighbors are going into sugar coma ;) Thank you.

    Erin – they really are a perfect match!

    Fan – oh, that’s a good question. First, the frosting has to be soft – if it’s too hard, you will wreck the cake. I spread a thin layer over it that gets mixed in with crumbs (the crumb coat, as it is known). Then I spread the real frosting over that thin layer which keeps the crumbs from showing on the surface. Hope that helps!

    Tina – thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoys the cooking more than the eating (but what do you expect from a bunch of foodies?!) :)

    Chez Us – Thanks hon! ha ha, that’s so true!

    Bee – hee hee, well, fitting for THIS loved one’s birthday. I would happily tuck into a plate of steamed crab legs ;)

  68. Sere says:

    I. Have. No. Words. I’m drooling! ‘nough said. I’d like to try this recipe, but this kind of layered cake intimidate me.

  69. jenyu says:

    Sere – this cake isn’t the easiest layer cake to begin with. You might try some other layer cake first, but this one is quite delicious when you feel up to making it!

  70. michelle @ TNS says:

    that cake is some hot shit! i’ve been looking for a new chocolate layer cake – i love my standby, but it’s always fun to shake things up – so i might have to make this for my own birthday next month.

    for even more coffee punch, replace the hot water with brewed coffee. ka-pow!

  71. jenyu says:

    Michelle – I look forward to your post about the cake b/c I guarantee you that you’ll be buzzing off this one :)

  72. Elizabeth says:

    Didn’t make the whole fancy layer cake, just the cake. At 6000 feet used 1 t bk soda. Great cake. Thank you!

  73. jenyu says:

    Elizabeth – you’re welcome!

  74. Shweta says:

    Amazing! the cake, the recipe, the photos, even the name of the site :)

  75. jenyu says:

    Shweta – thanks :)

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  77. Birthday Cake: Jen’s Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake « Bridezilla Bakes says:

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  78. Adri Barr says:

    Dear Jen,

    I had the same experience with cooking vs. eating. When I was on chemo I did not want to eat, but I loved making food. And so I discovered that for me it much more the doing than the eating. And your cake is absolutely gorgeous. Congrats on your successful adjustments for altitude.

  79. Tashia says:

    While this is my first post to you, I have been reading your blog, recipes and visiting your photos for awhile. I’m designing the dessert menu for my restaurant, and remembered the Pumpkin Walnut Cake by Marcel. I was searching online for his Brown Sugar Buttercream recipe, and stumbled upon this recipe of yours….

    a.) It looks fabulous. You have a talent for keeping your cakes clean, professional and oh-so-lovely!
    b.) Do you think your or Marcel’s icing making method would work with using brown sugar in place of the white sugar with the egg whites? and maybe making a caramel to fold into the icing instead of chocolate? I wasn’t sure if the brown sugar would work the same, but you show a lot of food knowledge, and I thought it would be worth a shot to ask. Let me know what you think if you have the time. Thanks so much, and keep on cooking- !

  80. jenyu says:

    Tashia – I don’t actually know if brown sugar will make a difference. You could always give it a try… I am also unsure on how the caramel would fold into the icing (my guess is it would be fine if the caramel was pourable at room temp). Good luck!

  81. Ana says:

    Hi, Jennifer

    I’m Ana and I live in Portugal. I really love your recipes, and this cake is spectacular! Unfortunately, here in Portugal we measure the ingredients in grams so, everytime I convert cups into grams, the result isn’t the same. Sometimes the cups are sifted, sometimes they’re spooned and leveled, sometimes they’re neither one of them. And if I don’t know that, I may use too much or not as much flour as needed in the recipe! So what I would like to ask you (if you have the time, of course) is if would it be possible for you to convert the measurements(I don’t know if this is the right way to say it, if not I’m so sorry) into grams so I don’t fail completely on this recipe? I was hoping to do it for this Easter!

    I’ll leave my e-mail, just in case!

    I’m sorry for my english, I hope I did good :)

    Kind regards,


  82. jenyu says:

    Ana – I completely understand how stupid the cups measure is and I apologize. That is how it is written in the book and that is how I did it a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, I barely have the time to maintain the blog at the moment let alone remeasure and weigh all of the ingredients. What I can suggest (which is a pain, but if you have the time…) is to look through more recent baking recipes which sometimes have gram conversions as well as cup conversions. So if you find the weight in grams for 1/2 cup of brown sugar, you can do the math and get a relatively reasonable estimate. Best of luck.

  83. Bridezilla Bakes » Blog Archive » Birthday Cake: Jen's Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake says:

    […] major notes on the cake recipe… it is fussy and requires a lot of beating (as Jen mentions in her original post), but really, it was so worth it. The cake batter was extremely […]

  84. Suhartini Perkins says:

    I made this cake a couple of weeks ago for my friends birthday! It was a hit! Thank you so much for sharing!

  85. Yellow cupcakes with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting « Heat, Knives, and Chemicals says:

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  86. Nekkutyttoe says:

    I think I just found my favorite cake recipe! :) For some reason, I’ve always had trouble with chocolate cakes, but this one turned out great – spongy, moist and pretty. I only used 1 tsp of soda. Doing the frosting tomorrow, but just felt like I had to come over already and thank you for the great recipe.

  87. Marcel Desaulniers says:

    Bravo – – the cake looks fantastic. Excellent blog.

  88. Tera says:

    I have made this cake twice now and it is heavenly. Thank you so much for the amazing recipe.

  89. Anne says:

    My daughter moved to Denver and is having a nightmare trying to get cakes to rise. What’s the secret at that altitude?

  90. jenyu says:

    Anne – there’s no secret, but there are some guidelines. She may want to try finding tips from local culinary schools in Denver? The adjustments I make at 8500 ft are quite different from those they make at 5300 ft (in Boulder), so I have very little experience at the Denver/Boulder elevation. Usually the first thing is to try the recipe as is. If that fails (I know, what a pain, right?) then start making adjustments based on how the cake failed (i.e. did it rise too fast and collapse, etc.). Some cakes behave beautifully and others are a nightmare. Leavening (reducing it) seems to help, but determining how much can be tough. Also – a great reference is Pie in the Sky with fantastic tips on things to adjust as well as some basic recipes that you can see how she adjusts various ingredients from sea level to 3000, 5000, 7000, and 10,000 ft! Good luck.

  91. Vicki Bensinger says:

    Im vacationing in Breckenridge and made a cake last night with cake flour that neither my daughter or I liked. It’s part of a cake that we are creating. So today I’ve been searching for a chocolate cake recipe to go with this and thought of a chocolate espresso fudge cake. However all I need is the cake and to work at altitude.

    Can you tell me if this cake alone is moist and delicious? I don’t need the rest of the ingredients but see you’ve adapted it for altitude.

    I look forward to your reply.

  92. jenyu says:

    Vicki – I’d say it’s moderately moist, but not super moist.

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  94. Yii-Huei says:

    Oh my goodness, this looks so amazing! Craving for a thick chocolate slice like in your picture :)

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  96. aubrey says:

    I had a quick question, I am hoping to make this cake for my sister’s birthday, but would like to know if I can make it the day before.. will everything set the same and still look/taste the same if I do that? Thank you so much!!

  97. jenyu says:

    aubrey – yes, you can definitely make this the day before. Just don’t let it get hot or else things will start melting and looking sad. Perhaps it’s best to refrigerate it covered. The only thing is that you should let it come to room temperature before serving otherwise the frostings will be hard and blegh. Ideally, they will be smooth and soft – plus the flavor is better at room temp.

  98. Jovet says:

    This is my favorite cake ever. I make it almost every year for my birthday. (Because nobody else will or can make it for me.) But I love to make just the cake itself to have chocolate cake. It’s a fantastic recipe. I can’t claim to love The Making more than The Eating, but I love making the cake of this recipe because of all the phases the batter goes through. It’s just fun!

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