My family loves this cake, and I make it nearly every time a chocolate cake is requested. I adapted the Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe some time ago by adding almond extract and coffee. Believe me, this cake gets raves. Make sure to sift your flour BEFORE measuring, or this cake can come out heavy. If you like a heavy, loaf-like cake, that's fine. I much prefer the cake to be lighter and cakey-er. I make a lot of cakes, so please trust me on this! Sifting is a very simple extra step, and SO worth an extra minute and an extra bowl. (I just use a mesh colander for this quick step.) I also use a good-quality natural cocoa, and Hershey's is really good, though I don't particularly like Hershey's Special Dark cocoa. It's a funny color to me, and I don't find improved flavor over their original cocoa. If you like a really dark chocolate flavor, as I do, a great enhancement to cocoa is coffee. This works well in almost any chocolate recipe. No one but you will know coffee is in the recipe, but the chocolate taste will have a deeper flavor. My adaptation includes hot coffee instead of boiling water. I just brew up an extra cup when I'm making this cake, but instant coffee will work just as well. I frosted this cake with Margie's Best Chocolate Icing (recipe below), and I doubled the recipe. I use quite a bit of extra icing when decorating, and I added some cute chocolate extras made from melted chocolate chips squeezed through the corner of a plastic baggie to make a design. The chocolate was then chilled and added to the top of the cake after frosting.
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups flour (sift before measuring)
1 cup hot coffee
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
2. Put all ingredients except hot coffee into mixing bowl and mix for a couple of minutes on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Add the coffee and mix for another thirty seconds or so. The batter will be thin.
3. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
4. Place pans on wire racks to cool for ten minutes. Then invert cakes onto racks and allow to cool completely.
5. Trim off domed tops of layers if necessary (to make them level), and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 20 minutes (or until you are ready to fill and frost). Freezing makes cakes easier to handle and increases moistness. (This cake freezes well when carefully wrapped and can be kept in the freezer up to two weeks. I double wrap when I plan to leave the cake frozen for more than one day).
6. Fill and frost with Margie's Best Chocolate Icing and decorate as desired.
Margie's Best Chocolate Icing
3 1/2 sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
Put all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. If mixture is too dry, add milk in TINY amounts--no more than one teaspoon at a time. Too much liquid can make the frosting too soft very quickly. This recipe makes just enough frosting for a two-layer cake. I often double it if I plan to add borders (as in the picture above).