Homemade Ding Dongs

2 ounces of fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 cup of hot brewed coffee
2 cups of white granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/3 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of table salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line the bottoms of 2 10-inch round cake pans with wax paper and grease paper. If you don't have 10-inch cake pans, you can make 2 9-inch cake pans and a dozen cupcakes.

2. Finely chop chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Pour hot coffee over chocolate and let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Into a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

4. Divide batter between pans and bake in the middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

5. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Seven Minute Frosting

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In large metal bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup water, sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl over pan of barely simmering water and mix with handheld electric mixer at low speed. Gradually increase speed to high, beating until mixture holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.

Transfer bowl from pan to folded kitchen towel on counter and continue beating until mixture is cool and billowy, about 2 minutes more. Beat in vanilla. (Frosting can be made 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered.)

Ganache

14 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-ounce pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1. Place the chocolate chips in a stainless steel bowl. 

2. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, take it off the heat, and pour the heavy cream over the chocolate. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes and then stir it until completely smooth. 

Assembly

Once the cake layers have cooled completely, use a small round cookie cutter to cut small circles of cake out of the layers. Enjoy the scraps or save them for cake balls.

Using the cone method, scoop out a small portion of cake from each circle. Fill with 7-minute frosting and replace top of cake.

Using a pastry brush or spoon, cover individual cakes with ganache. Allow ganache to completely set up before serving.
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