3 sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 cups flour
1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract), scraped
8 ounces reduced fat sour cream
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 ounces chocolate chips
2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 T maple syrup
for chocolate frosting---
2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup reserved ganache
3 T cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
To make the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three nine-inch cake pans. Don't just spray with cooking spray...it will not work.
Pour boiling water over cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. Mix well so there are no lumps and chocolate has melted. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat again.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to the butter mixture alternately with the chocolate, mixing well after each addition. Batter might look like it's "broken" but will come together in the end if you keep beating.
Divide batter amongst three pans evenly and bake cakes for 40 minutes, or until sides are beginning to pull away. Let cool then turn out cakes on wax paper and let cool completely. I recommend baking the cakes the night before you plan to serve it. The cakes are much easier to work with after they've been sitting in the fridge overnight (wrap each layer individually with foil or plastic wrap).
To make the ganache: Bring milk to a
simmer on the stove. Pour over chocolate chips, add maple syrup and stir
until incorporated and smooth. Let sit for 1 hour until thick. Place
1/2 cup ganache in a separate bowl or cup to use for frosting.
To make frosting: Cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla for 5 minutes on high speed. Add reserved ganache and cocoa powder and keep beating for another 8-10 minutes until very light, thick and fluffy. Set aside.
To assemble cake: Place one cake layer on a large plate (I like to do this on the plate I plan to serve on so I don't have to attempt to move the cake later after it's decorated). Spread an even layer of ganache all over the first layer then place the second layer on top. Repeat and top with the remaining layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place about one cup of frosting on top of cake. Work down the sides of the cake with a small offset spatula (available at Sur la Table) to crumb-coat the cake. When the entire cake is covered with a very thin (!) layer of frosting, place back in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to firm up.
Now, place all remaining frosting on top of cake. You can always take extra off! Smooth frosting all over top of cake and down sides, scraping an extra back in the bowl. Place extra frosting in a plastic bag (or pastry bag) fitted with a large star tip. Pipe borders around the bottom and top of cake with extra frosting.
Serve at room temperature
**cake will keep fully decorated in the fridge overnight. If making cake layers the day before, be sure to cool each layer completely before wrapping tightly in tin foil or plastic wrap and placing in fridge.