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Holiday Game Face

Once Halloween passes, the throes of the holiday season are thrust upon us. It feels a little premature for me though. I would like to savor the gorgeous fall right now, instead of planning for cold winter holidays. But, my friends inform that since Thanksgiving is only three weeks away, I better get my holiday game face on.

I guess the impending holiday season comes as a bittersweet reminder that this year is almost over. Pretty soon, 2010 will come about and I’m not ready to start a new year. I have a list of things that I wanted to do and I’ve barely made a dent on that list! The only way I can squelch this panic is by keeping busy and focusing on the things that I love about the holidays: late nights with friends, fireside chats, family dinners, scarves, days spent reading, and a cozy, warmed up kitchen.

Everyone know that the baking is a holiday sport and I like to play along. Last year I think I baked almost every day, and while I don’t have the time nor the money to that this year, I plan on picking out the recipes that will soothe my rattled nerves and bring joy to my family and friends. Instead of trying to tackle labor-intensive recipes that will wear me down, I think I shall focus on the everyday kind of baking projects.

Now that I’ve already found an everyday buttermilk cake that can be used for a plethora of events, I think it’s time to share my everyday chocolate cake. From the now deceased Gourmet, this cake is humble, simple, and easy to make. It doesn’t promise greatness, unlike the infamous double chocolate layer cake. Instead, this cake offers a moist, light crumb and a divine chocolate Ganache frosting that will make you smile, even in the worst of circumstances.

Because I love coconut and the sweet white flakes remind me of snow, I decided to sprinkle some unsweetened coconut flakes I got from Bob’s Red Mill. They added a nice little crunch on top of the cake, and made it look pretty. Which is really what I am all about, right? Since I’m a deviant, I used sour cream in place of whole milk. I like the tang sour cream gives and it has never let me down. If you prefer, use milk, but I think sour cream is much better with chocolate cake.

This cake was pretty good the minute it came out of the oven, after a little cooling period of course. But it was even better the next day. I’m not ashamed to say that I sliced off a big chunk for breakfast, which was washed down with strong black coffee. Chocolate cakes tend to be more flavorful after resting overnight. I think it’s because the chocolate flavor develops and deepens but I’m not entirely sure. It was delicious, nonetheless.

I think this cake would be a nice addition to a small family gathering or holiday potluck. It’s deceivingly delicious. You think it’s going to be a plain chocolate cake, but the combination of the Ganache frosting and coconut flakes makes it a holiday favorite.

Glazed Chocolate Cake with Coconut Flakes
Printable Recipe
Origin: Gourmet, December 2008
Yield: 1 (9-INCH) Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour

● For Cake:
● 1 cup all-purpose flour
● 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
● 1 tsp. baking soda
● 1/2 tsp. baking powder
● 1/4 tsp. salt
● 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
● 1 cup packed light brown sugar
● 2 large eggs at room temperature 30 minutes
● 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 1 cup sour cream
● For chocolate glaze:
● 1/4 cup heavy cream
● 3 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
● 2 tsp. light corn syrup
● Unsweetened coconut flakes, for decoration


To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter bottom and side of pan, then line bottom with a round of parchment.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to medium-low and add flour mixture and sour cream alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture (batter will appear curdled).

Transfer batter to cake pan and smooth top. Bake until cake begins to pull away from side of pan and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make the glaze:
Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 1 minute. Gently whisk until smooth, then stir in corn syrup. Cool completely, gently stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes (glaze will thicken).

Carefully peel off parchment from cake. Pour glaze onto center of cake and spread to edges with a spatula. Decorate with unsweetened coconut flakes.

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November 8, 2009 - 7:29 pm

whitneyinchicago - I love how the coconut almost looks like powdery snow. I’m getting geared up for holiday cooking and baking.

November 8, 2009 - 8:31 pm

candice - Lovely, wintry, and gorgeous. :)

November 9, 2009 - 5:38 am

Lindsey - I’m so not ready for the holidays, my life JUST got back to normal this weekend. And to top it off, my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving. We need to have some major planning sessions, because once Turkey Day is over we also have a large holiday party…

November 9, 2009 - 8:02 am

Dolce - That’s a nice cake indeed. But I will save it until December comes in and when it really snows outside… :)

November 9, 2009 - 3:40 pm

betty - oh yummy it looks divine

i made my first batch of dark choc ganache on the weekend- beautiful! so so simple too

November 9, 2009 - 8:09 pm

Jessica "Su Good Sweets" - Beautiful! The coconut indeed looks like snow.

November 10, 2009 - 8:02 am

antzonablog - Yum! I love your recipe finds!

November 10, 2009 - 8:44 am

steph (whisk/spoon) - oh gosh, what a beautiful cake! an “everyday” cake that is really special–perfect!

November 10, 2009 - 6:02 pm

Kylie of Thin Crust Deep Dish - I totally understand what you’re saying about wanting to enjoy fall! My girlfriend started playing Christmas music this weekend, and I was like, “What?!” It’s 65 degrees out, and the leaves are still orange! This cake looks great, though. Yum.

November 10, 2009 - 10:10 pm

the southern hostess - This looks amazing! Chocolate and coconut are two of my favorite things.

November 11, 2009 - 3:10 pm

Amanda - This cake looks so rich and decadent! Coconut is my favorite and the big chunks look so much better than shredded.

November 11, 2009 - 11:23 pm

kickpleat - I’m a huge fan of simple chocolate cakes. Topped with coconut? Yes please.

November 12, 2009 - 7:41 pm

Steph - I totally agree, chocolate cakes taste way better the next day. Your pictures are amazing! It looks so pretty with the coconut, but I really hope it doesn’t snow too hard this winter

November 16, 2009 - 5:48 am

kristina - “Baking = sport” Haha, totally! This cake truly looks lovely. I wish I could have eaten some for breakfast!

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