4 Levels of Chocolate Cake: Amateur to Food Scientist | Epicurious

hi guys my name is Keith and I'm a level one chef hi I'm Daniel and I'm level two chef hi I'm penny and I'm the chef at the Institute of Culinary Education and I've been a chef for 15 years today we are making Keith some Lumbo lava cake

extravaganza so this recipe came from online and like multiple different recipes and I kind of like adapted it and made it into one and the ecologist came together my chocolate cake is a two layer chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and a chocolate ganache drizzle it's a whole mouthful

the perfect combination and flavors for me is chocolate and peanut butter and then I add a little bit of strawberry and strawberry jam to make it more like a peanut butter and jelly cake okay so first we're gonna make the cake batter so I've got some all-purpose flour

cocoa powder got baking powder baking soda and salt and the sugar and espresso powder the espresso powder does not make it taste like coffee it actually is gonna bring out the richness of the chocolate a lot you know I feel like I just tried to go with flourless

just cuz it's kind of like on trend everybody like paleo and this and that like no blue and so I was like I like let's see what this tastes like and I'm just gonna whisk them all together the whole point of the sifter basically is to eliminate massive

chunks of powder kinda getting stuck and clump together in the batter the dry ingredients are all sets in one bowls I put the double broiler on to warm and I have semi-sweet chocolate chips and 12 tablespoons of butter some throw it all in there I'm gonna take your

butter like get on in there see I'm sure there's like a right technique for this but I kind of just go like an axe a little bit kind of click shop on in there now I'm gonna mix together all of my liquid ingredients first things first got sugar

got vegetable oil and use a couple eggs here and then I'm gonna whisk them together just to make it easy for all the other vanilla extract good stuff add some flavor adds a little color and we're going to mix this up until it's all sort of uniform you

just want to get like all the lumps up in there you don't want any more chips you just kind of need it to be like luxurious silky consistency right now we're gonna add some sour cream it adds a lot of moisture though not until you try it brown

butter but the good thing with this is like you can't really mess up I mean it's chocolate you know it's like even if it's a Bartis truck like it won't be that bad I'm gonna alternate between adding my dry ingredients and the liquid ingredient for my cake which

is actually brewed coffee it actually adds to the color makes it a lot darker and gives it a rich chocolatey flavor which is awesome and then I have some milk for richness and some water shockingly with chocolate cake the more fat that you add to it the more

you dull that chocolate flavor all right so I almost stopped gonna pour it into the bigger bowl so gonna put our vanilla extracts and we're gonna put our sugar all right so just gonna mix this in first with a spoon we're almost done like you see how fast

I was right so now we're gonna get our four eggs crack them in there now we get our yogurt because you want to stay moisturized y'all I'm just gonna throw our cornstarch in there you'll see one ball one ball we don't need nothing fancy and now we're just

gonna mix it all in together now you want to do this for about three minutes you just want to get it all mixed in there now I'm just gonna drizzle in these ingredients until I make pretty much a paste then the last thing I like to do is

just give it a little bit of a mix by hand your batter at this point all right so now we got our batter we're gonna put them into our ramekins we have six six ounce ramekins which we need to grease first so like this is pretty janky but

I just take a melted stick of butter and I kind of just go like loop you know like that sounds like in your mind like I said the cake is two layers we're gonna take two 9-inch pans there's got to be a better way I just don't know

it you know but this is actually ridiculous it aligned the bottoms of them with some baking sheets perfect paper that's the secret to always making sure that your cakes come out of the pan that's what makes it so special you'll never see another recipe doing it like this

that's for sure that's extravaganza and now it's pouring okay so I'm gonna pan this out so you kind of want to fill it up 3/4 of the way because it kind of rises when you bake it just gonna eyeball this into the two 9-inch pans okay so now

these are gonna go in the oven and they're gonna bake until they spring back in the center at about 350 degrees it's gonna be somewhere around 20 to 25 minutes about 30 to 32 minutes that's supposed to be like 12 minutes but you kind of just got to

keep shucking because the middle is supposed to be like so moist and like jiggly-wiggly so the cakes are in the oven now is the perfect time to work on all the accessories so most cakes have frosting on the inside but since this is lava we don't need no

for Austin no so with the powdered sugar I just tend to do like a little sprinkle on top snowfall and I put ice cream on the side of it and you cut into it no kiss bye-bye to your diet because you're gonna need six sticks of butter so

we got butter we got cocoa powder all the powdered sugar you can find some vanilla and heavy cream we're gonna throw it into the mixer this is 6 ounces of egg whites and I'm gonna add 12 ounces of white sugar to that and I'm gonna mix whisk this

together and now I'm gonna put it over simmering water now get to just start letting this butter mix get creamy I'm gonna whip it completely until it's cool and once it's completely cooled I'm gonna add my softened butter all the cocoa powder in there and some vanilla now

is sort of the last step we're gonna go back and forth between adding a couple scoops of powdered sugar and a little bit of heavy cream my temperature right now is just right enough to be able to add the butter and I'm gonna whisk it until it comes

together I'm gonna add some salt and then the main star of this buttercream is peanut butter that there's all done so the jelly part of my peanut butter and jelly chocolate cake consists of two different things macerated strawberries and then a fresh made strawberry jam so I'm gonna

take a few and put them on a cutting board my sugar and my lemon I'm gonna use the zest juice now I have a measured amount of sugar here this is good and ready to go this is a chocolate overload cake and it requires a chocolate ganache so

we've got some dark chocolate and some heavy cream cut the chocolate into smaller more manageable pieces the heavy cream just looking for it to simmer a little bit it starts to bubble up they get nice and warm there's gonna drizzle it all over the chocolate and all the

heat from the heavy cream is gonna do the work here and just melt this down so we're gonna make a jam out of these fresh strawberries all my berries go in some more lemon zest and my sugar a vanilla bean and then you just cook it down until

it looks like it's starting to become the right consistency and that is chocolate ganache so these are my homemade honey roasted peanuts we're gonna make a caramel for a garnish for my dry caramel I'm gonna start the pan pretty high I'm just gonna start by adding a little

bit of sugar to the bottom of the pot off the heat and get the peanuts in as quickly as possible pour this out that's my caramel this is gonna sit at room temperature and firm up then take about ten or fifteen minutes and we'll be able to break

it into shards later for our garnish now I'm gonna melt chocolate over a double boiler chocolates almost melted take it off the heat and continue mixing it and now while it's still warm I'm gonna add some meat Creole seven cocoa butter powder some peanut butter some more salt

and a good amount of those honey roasted peanuts and then I'm gonna roll this out I'm gonna throw it into the freezer to set for about 15 minutes before we assemble our cake all right we're back fresh from the oven and I got my little ramekins and I

want to get it out onto the plate so kind of cut around it quickly because time is of the essence you need to get it out before it sets I'm gonna put the plate on top hopefully so I can just slip it out come on Jesus come on

Jesus it's not cooked this is clearly not a cake so I have five other ones back in the oven um I don't know what to do with this all right here we go take two let's hope this is not putting again but you never know grab the plates

take the wheel all right so this is my beautiful lopsided cake what I love it looks at my ranks we sprayed the absolute hell out of these pans so I'm hoping that the cake comes out nicely can't tell them very scared oh yes oh nice now it's time

to assemble the cake so now I'm just gonna sprinkle some sugar on top hide the imperfections with confection all right so now I'm gonna get my ice cream just give it a good old scoop maybe I'll do another one we're so far nice and close to the edge

just kind of work your way around in a circle and fill in any loose little spots smooth this over layer one done so start by lining this cake with strawberry syrup then I'm gonna start to take my strawberries and then I'll start to place them flat so I

have a nice even layer I want to pipe a dam around the cake that's gonna trap in my looser jam filling and not allow it to come out the sides over the top of my fresh strawberries my strawberry jam layer then my second layer of cake goes on

and one more layer of my strawberry syrup so now I take in my crunchy layer out of the freezer and I'm gonna use an 8-inch cardboard to trim this up take my crunch layer place it on top line it up as best you can next layer is butter

butter my final layer of cake my final layer of strawberry syrup I'm gonna do my crumb coat now so I start by adding a pretty decent sized dollop of butter cream to the top of my cake and then it will set in the freezer for a few minutes

before we do our final coat we're gonna coat the entire top of this and we're gonna work our way around the sides just get it nice and flat that way everything is covered in this chocolaty buttercream frosting Nora go over the edges and just make them nice and

smooth the cake is frosted we're not gonna stop there it's chocolate overload we have the ganache to do this is gonna go around the outside of the cake sort of like a border and then also coat the top and just lightly on the outside of the cake the

drips down it's okay and then with the remaining ganache I'm going to take that and sort of do a little crisscross drizzle up top because this is going to be a final third layer of frosting okay so while my cake is chilling I'll just take a second and

smash up my caramel for my garnish and these are my caramel shards to garnish my cake and I'm gonna add my final coating of buttercream and smooth it out ah now you're done I'm just kidding you're not done we're gonna do some some chocolates buttercream rosettes to finish

off the cake make it look nice and pretty now I'm going to put some of my crumb on a little bit of gold this gold makes everything a little bit better now presenting keeps the One Bowl chocolate lava cake extravaganza this is my overindulgent chocolate sugar bomb cake

and this is my peanut butter and jelly chocolate cake [Music] all right time to dig on it yes this is delicious it's life-changing it's magnificent it's a very rich expensive divine Michelin the chocolate is super strong the crunchy layer with the nuts in it adds a lot of

texture which it really needs because the cake is super smooth I can already feel the the heart-stopping artery-clogging power but this cake has inside it this is so good I would definitely cook it for longer this is like the fourth time I made it so if I just

keep going I'll know exactly like when it's like leave it in the oven for this is the best thing I've ever done this cake is perfect I wouldn't do a thing differently our three chefs made three very different versions of chocolate cakes let's look at how each put

their personal stamp on this classic dessert Daniel and penny each made a layered cake while Keith made a flourless lava cake a flourless lava cake is a rich and dense cake that remains gooey in the middle after baking because unlike traditional layer cakes there's no chemical leavener to

make it light and airy Keith's semi-sweet chocolate chips are dark at minimum 35% cocoa this makes them less sweet than milk chocolate which is why Keith added sugar to this batter butter adds a smooth quality because it's so high in fat it blends very well with the semi-sweet

chocolate he's also incorporated yogurt which adds a tang and lowers the pH of this cake stabilizing the natural anti sign and pigments in chocolate giving a deep brown color to this cake in place of flour keith added corn starch which gelatinizes upon heating giving this cake some stability

he also mixed his batter by hand because his cake is dense so no additional air was needed Daniel made a classic layer cake using all of the ingredients you might expect to find in a chocolate cake sugar for sweetness flour for gluten development and cake structure and a

combination of baking soda and baking powder to give liftand porosity for this high-volume batter he used oil in place of butter in his batter which is not going to incorporate as much air when mixing but it will give a rich quality to a dense chocolate cake oil is

almost a hundred percent fat while butter is 80 percent fat and 20 percent water so when using oil in your cake there's less water available for gluten development giving you a tender cake and less water for evaporation giving you a moist cake the addition of coffee helps to

combine the dry ingredients and along with the espresso powder adds a nice complementary chocolate flavor to this cake Penny's cake included some of the same ingredients as Daniels but she used brown butter instead of oil by heating the butter water is removed and browning occurs making this ingredient

chemically similar to Daniels oil but with a distinctive nutty roasted and Carmelita that Daniels oil won't supply all three chefs use different sized pans he's baked his chocolate lava cakes and individual small ramekins for the shortest time at the highest temperature because he was looking for a gooey

Center heat from the oven makes contact with a ramekin first through conduction then heats up the batter touching the ramekin and then diffuses through the batter timing is important for lava cakes because if you add too much heat over time you'll bake the entire cake and lose that

gooey center Daniel baked his chocolate cake in two 9-inch pans Daniel rotated his cakes while baking to ensure even baking but be careful when doing this if the batters not set you may deflate the cakes by moving them penny divided her batter into three parchment-lined 8-inch pans the

pans smaller diameter didn't require rotation for even heating he's tested his cake with powdered sugar which is simple sweet and contrast the dark chocolate nicely hide the imperfections with confection because a lava cake is best served warm a quick and easy frosting is ideal Daniel made an American

buttercream by combining lots of soft butter with cocoa powder and adding confectioner sugar with heavy cream to dissolve the sugar and bring it all together he also made a chocolate ganache to drizzle over the cake ganache is made by drizzling hot cream over solid chocolate creating an emulsion

made from the water from the cream and sugar from the chocolate ganache drizzle there look at that honey made a more complex Swiss buttercream I'm kind of a rebel next she made her own honey roasted peanuts which are sweet and crunchy but also added toasty caramel notes she

used some of these peanuts to make a dry caramel similar to a brittle as a garnish by cooking sugar to reduce water and increase browning giving it a complex caramel flavor her macerated strawberries were made by simply adding sugar two fresh sliced strawberries with no cooking involved this

is different from the strawberry jam which was cooked and had a much higher sugar to Strawberry ratio penny's chocolate peanut butter crunch combined to the honey roasted peanuts with melted chocolate salt and Mike Rio which is pure cocoa butter in a powdered form she shaped this mixture into

the spice of her 8 inch diameter pan and froze it making cake assembly much easier Heath's assembly was simple he turned his lava cakes onto a plate dusted with powdered sugar and served it with ice cream which provides a pleasing contrast to the hot cake and compliments like

gooey chocolate lava baking it at 375 degrees for only 12 minutes didn't allow the cake to cook thoroughly rendering it impossible to properly flip out of his ramekin and onto the plate without a splat but it wasn't a cake and it certainly wasn't visually appealing he's putting extravaganza

he then cooked his cakes a little bit longer and came away with a perfectly cooked cake that flipped on to the plate well good thing he always makes more than one individual serving Daniel secured his cake by placing a dollop of frosting directly onto the plate he then

added his first cake layer piped is frosting and smooths it with an offset spatula which made it much easier to spread Daniel then added the ganache which dripped over the sides of the cake as an additional burst of chocolate looking like lovingly caressing the ganache and at this

case he piped rosettes for decoration giving his cake a final additional visual flourish penny has a complicated assembly because she's considering appearance texture and flavor she began by applying strawberry syrup to her first layer allowing the chocolate cake to absorb the fruity flavor directly she then added the

second layer cake more syrup and then a layer of frozen peanut crunch and additional buttercream finally she adds the last cake layer and coats the entire cake with buttercream and decorates it with a brittle and some gold leaf this gold makes everything a little bit better with its

many carefully balanced components and extravagant design pennies cake is unmistakably made by a level 3 chef next time you're making chocolate cake I hope you'll consider some of these sweet tips so you can have your cake and eat it too

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