Chef Lena Tries 12 Of The Weirdest Chocolate Cake Recipes To Find The Perfect One

– I’m gonnna show you how to make the best chocolate cake recipe. I just have to figure out what that is first. I’m gonna try a bunch of different recipes some that are pretty wacky. Recipe number three, all mayonnaise (gasping) Hopefully, by the end of it, we’ll have the best chocolate cake recipe ever. There you go. I got to check some too. I don’t think that anyone loves chocolate cake as much as my grandma did and my dad has been making the same chocolate cake recipe since before I was born. I love it but it’s not the ultimate.

The first thing I’m going to do is bake the cake that my dad always makes, take some notes, see what I want to change, see what I like. My dad texted me a photo of the recipe and I just printed it out. This particular recipe calls for coating with flour as well, so I’ll do that too. It’s kind of nice to spray the bottom even though you’re putting something in because that way it sticks. And it’s really important to take all precautionary steps to lining your cake pans because there’s nothing worse than doing all this hard work to make a beautiful delicious chocolate cake and then it comes out of your pan in pieces. Some things to note about this recipe, or things that I’ll be paying attention to, there’s no cocoa powder at all in this recipe. It’s purely just baking chocolate. There’s sour cream, which I’m a big fan of baking with so I’m excited about that. There’s both baking soda and baking powder and we whip the egg whites, so there’s a lot of leavening going on.

So the first thing that I’m doing is heating some hot water to boiling and then I’m going to pour it over our baking chocolate and our butter to melt it. And then I’ll be stirring in vanilla and sugar. That is a big old mound of sugar. Egg yolks. So I just whipped these egg whites to stiff peaks as you can see.

And we’re going to fold it into our cake batter . And I’m doing something which is pretty typical when you’re incorporating whipped egg whites which is to add about a quarter and folding that in before I add the final amount. And that’s just to give this batter a lighter texture. If we were to pour the whole thing in, the weight of the batter might deflate a lot of the bubbles. So just gently folding a portion of the egg whites in will help them maintain more air in the long run. She’s ready. I’ve got an oven preheated to 350 and this should take about 30 minutes. At least I’ll start checking it at that point. Moving right along to recipe number two. The first recipe that I just made is all butter, this recipe is all vegetable oil.

This also uses espresso powder which they say is optional in the recipe but I want to give it a try because I’ve heard it helps sort of amplify the chocolate flavors and doesn’t necessarily make it taste like coffee at all. We got flour and we got sugar. This recipe calls for dutch processed cocoa powder. Similar to cocoa powder but it’s been put through a process that takes away all a lot of the acidic notes so it’s a much smoother flavor.

I’m going to add a half a teaspoon of espresso powder. Now all we need is vanilla, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water. So this is baking at 350 once again for 30 minutes to 35 minutes. Goodbye cake! All right, well, I think I need to do some dishes because I’ve exhausted all the bowls, all the measuring cups already. Cake number one is potentially ready. So let’s just give this one the toothpick test Looks clean, looks good. So, I’m just going to pop this on the cooling rack and then we’ll turn it out in maybe 10 minutes when it’s a little less hot. Ahem. Recipe number three is all mayonnaise. Well, not all mayonnaise, there are other ingredients but there are no fats besides the mayonnaise. So we’ve got all of our dry ingredients here and then all that’s left is just water, mayo, and vanilla.

I’m interested that like all of these recipes use vanilla when like, I don’t know if it’s necessary. I think maybe tomorrow I might try doing it without, just because it’s like, maybe vanilla brings out the chocolatey flavor but maybe it’s just muddles it. (upbeat music) This cake is looking a lot lighter in color than our last two. We are putting cake number three into the oven. This will be for 25 to 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. And I am going to flip out our first cake and I’m going to… (oven beeping) Cakes abound. Clean. Recipe number four has a very interesting secret ingredient. Shout-out to my girl Lauren for sending me this recipe. It is a chocolate mashed potato cake. Never heard of it before but I’m excited to try it. So, we’re starting with two potatoes. I’m going to peel them, chop them up, and boil them and then I’m going to mash them and then that will get added to our regular old cake batter. It’s funny, it’s kind of acting like butter. It integrates pretty easily. (upbeat music) All right, this cake bakes for an hour. So, I’m going to pop it in, let it do it’s thing.

All right, so I think our mayo cake’s done. I’m going to pull it out, give it the old toothpick test. Looking nice and clean. We made it to cake number five. This one, I’ am testing mostly for the inclusion of buttermilk. And a quarter cup of of veggie oil, an egg. And then we’re going to add a half a teaspoon of vanilla. We’re also adding brewed coffee to this one. (upbeat music) 35 minutes in 350, going in. All right, I’m just going to give this a quick clean up. (snaps) All right, very excited. The moment I have been waiting for: trying the cakes. We are starting with my family recipe, which I’m about to rip apart and build back up again. Sorry dad. Mmm. The texture’s really nice, really smooth Soft, tender crumbs, it’s an eight. I want to make it a 10.

I’m afraid to go home now. Cake number two, super dark and I think that’s because of the dutch-processed cocoa. The texture is looking really beautiful. It’s like got that really like tacky, sticky top. Mmm, it’s definitely a lot more moist than the first one. So, onto the mayo cake, which looks great. It’s super dark, I don’t taste the mayo. But the cake does have this interesting, like, mouth flavor. Mouth flavor, it’s a very technical term. It’s super chocolatey, it reminds me a lot of something I had as a kid. A Hostess cupcake, with the little swirls on it. Potato cake, it looks interesting. It’s got some weird bumps on the top of it. But, it looks nice, even, smooth. Not the best cake I’ve tasted so far. I do like, and they mention this in the recipe, that the top would get a little crunchy. It’s nice to have that little mix of textures. Nothing too special about it.

It’s nice and light, but it just doesn’t have the flavor. I’m glad I don’t love this one because if I had to end up boiling potatoes anytime I wanted to make a chocolate cake, I’d be kind of annoyed. I’d say interesting to try, but not our hero. Not our ultimate. Last slice of the day, buttermilk cake. Mmm. Very chocolatey. This is about what I expect a chocolate cake to be. The salt levels are really good. I would still wouldn’t mind a little bit more chocolate flavor, but in terms of texture, it’s pretty great. I’m going to take the weekend, really think about everything I’ve learned. I’d say, veggie oil’s definitely in the running. Buttermilk’s definitely in the running. I still am not sure about chocolate versus cocoa powder. Got a lot to think about. I will see you on the flip side. (upbeat music) Hello, welcome to day two of chocolate cake something. I had the whole weekend to think about it, and I have a pretty good start I think.

I really pulled out the two favorites and both of them had buttermilk in them, so I’m definitely going to try to incorporate that into my recipe. More coffee flavor, I’m going to try a version that has both espresso powder and hot coffee. I thought that the best textured cake on Friday was our second cake, which had no eggs, so I’m taking the eggs out of my recipe. And, as much as I love butter, I’m going to give it a try with all veggie oil and then I’ll do a version that’s part butter and veggie oil and see which one we like better. (upbeat music) Day two, number one, going in. Wish it luck, cross your fingers. Number two, I’m doing a combination of vegetable oil and butter.

So I’m doing three tablespoons of veggie oil and two tablespoons of butter. (upbeat music) Into the oven, test number two. Let’s keep making cakes. Cake number three. Back to the original formula that I had for cake number one, but I’m trading in all of the white sugar for brown sugar. Brown sugar tends to add a little moisture to baked goods, and I want to see if maybe the flavor and the moisture that brown sugar brings would pair nicely with the chocolate cake. I don’t know if you remember the very first recipe but we coated the inside of the pan with flour. I’m going to try doing the same but with cocoa powder, just to double up on the flavor, see how we like that. Popping it into the oven. Right below our first cake that’s almost done. And, see you in a few, dish time. (oven beeping) Oh, gotta check the cake, sorry. So, I have not tried these cakes yet, I’m very excited. – That one is my favorite, just based on looks alone.

– Really? – Yes, it looks like, denser than… – Yes, it does, it looks fudgier, it looks so oily but I like the darkness of the third one. – Mmm. I did a lot of espresso powder in that one too, and I’m not tasting it. – I taste it. – You do? – I don’t know if I like the texture as much as I thought I was going to. It might be too much, too dense, maybe verging gummy. – Is this eventually going to have buttercream or frosting? – It’s going to have, yeah, a whipped ganache. – Then I would not like texture with even more chocolate. – Too fudgey. – Yeah. Like a whipped cream would be amazing, but more chocolate is too fudge. – Number two. – It has a nice bounce.

It’s nicely aerated, it has a really nice crumb. – It seems less chocolatey. – I’m not a fan, it tastes like a watered down version of that one, both in terms of moistness and flavor. – Interesting. – So, dutch processed versus Hershey’s unsweetened. So, oh, and the other difference between these two is this is basically half butter, half vegetable oil and this is just vegetable oil. – I’m a vegetable oil kind of girl, so. – Very clean break. Doesn’t it feel less sweet than the other two? – That might be my favorite one so far. – Really? – And I think the texture’s perfect. It’s not gummy, it’s not gluey, but it’s still very moist in your mouth. – So what were the difference? – So the difference between these two is this is all brown sugar and this is all white sugar. – Brown sugar always does the trick. – So if we like this, do we think that 100% brown sugar is the way to go? – Well, the texture in this is 10 times nicer than the texture in this one.

– So, I’m going to try to perfect the method for this one. Excited, oh my god. That taste test was super helpful, really excited hoping I might just have one more test before the final bake. Trying a few different things on this last one, still using all brown sugar, like the gals liked. But, I am going to try not doing any cocoa powder in the pan, just to see what the difference is. I do really like the way the cake sort of baked up the pan and it was easy to take out. So, we might keep it in, but I didn’t taste it at all, so I don’t want to waste cocoa powder on that if it’s not worth it. And, then I’m going to do a tightly packed 3/4 cup instead of a loosely packed one cup.

And, I’m going to add the brown sugar to the wet ingredients see if the integration’s a little bit better there. I had it in my head that chocolate cake doesn’t need vanilla but I feel like I should probably test it with just to make sure. (upbeat music) This is going to go in the oven for 35 minutes. Please be good. This better work, we don’t have time for another test. I guess I’ll clean again, bye. All right, trying our, I don’t even know what number test this is at this point.

We did five yesterday, three, eight, nine, our ninth cake. It looks good, it baked totally right. Adding the brown sugar in with the wet ingredients was totally fine. Texture looks nice. Mmm. It’s good, I think I can taste the vanilla. And I’m not a fan, I think I’m going to leave it out. It gives me a little bit too much of a like, birthday cakey vibe, it’s not quite as sweet as I want it. So I think we’re going to go back to a cup of brown sugar. All right, okay, was there anything else I tested that I need to think about? Oh, came out of the pan just fine without the cocoa powder, so I think I can leave that out. I think we’re ready, I think we’re ready to make our final cakes, I’m so excited.

(upbeat music) Okay, last round 350, 35 minutes, and we can frost these babes. Alrighty. Tomorrow, we’ll make the frosting, put it all together, it’s going to be awesome. See you then. Day three of cake, let’s talk frosting. Buttercream is great, it can be really sweet. And I want a frosting from my chocolate cake that’s not too sweet, still has a lot of chocolatey flavor, and I love ganache, but you can’t really frost an entire cake with ganache because it’s very thin.

So, I’m going to make a whipped ganache and I’m going to add in some cream cheese to make it a little tangy, a little less sweet. I think it’s going to be really good. So, the first step is to make a ganache. So, all we need is chocolate chips and heavy cream. If you want a really thin ganache, then you would have more heavy cream, and if you want thicker, more spreadable ganache, then more chocolate. But for this recipe, we’re doing an equal amount of both. So, I’m just going to put it over a medium flame and as soon as we start seeing bubbles forming around the edge of the cream, we know it’s hot and we can put it on top of our chocolate.

Now, we just have to wait a few minutes for the chocolate to melt. I’m just going to slowly gently stir it. It’s still a little bit warm though, and I want it to be room temperature when I whip it, so, I am just going to set it aside. It should only take like 30 minutes or so to come to room temp and then we can make our frosting. To start, we are just going to whip our cream cheese by itself and that is because cream cheese is notoriously clumpy, so if you mix it in with anything else, it’ll never really get smooth which is infuriating if you’re trying to make a nice, beautiful, luxurious, velvety frosting and then you got little specks of white, it’s the most frustrating thing ever.

This is room temperature. (mixer stirring cream cheese) It’s looking nice and whipped. And now we’re adding just one tablespoon of granulated sugar and while I’m mixing this, I’m just going to add a pinch of salt, just to balance out the flavors. I made the ganache in a measuring cup because it’s the perfect vessel for me to slowly stream it into my cream cheese. To start, I’m just going to add maybe like a quarter cup, just to get things going, make sure everything’s fully incorporated, no lumps, and then we can start slowly adding the ganache in and whipping it with the cream cheese. This is looking really good. It’s doubling in volume almost because of the cream. We’re just getting it nice and whipped almost like you would a whipped cream. I’m going to pop this in the fridge and let it stiffen just a little bit, let that cream cheese and the chocolate sort of harden up.

See you in a few. While we’re waiting for our frosting to cool, we’re just going to trim the dome off of our cakes. This isn’t necessary, but if you want your cake to stand straight and be even, then you do have to level them off, that doesn’t mean it has to go to waste, I mean, you can still eat it. We are just going to take the domed portion off so if you can see, actually, something that makes it really easy to do this, is the line where it was still touching the cake pan, so we know that that’s going to be even all the way around so we can kind of use that as a guide.

That being said, I still am a little cautious when I’m cutting and I usually start a little bit higher than I know I’m going to finish. You can take more off, but you can not add back on once you’ve taken it off. So I’ve got a nice big serrated knife. You want one that is at least the length of your cake. And I’m just going to.. I’ll start high, just to start, I’m just trying to keep an eye on both sides to make sure I’m cutting evenly. So I can take this whole piece off and I have a bowl here that I’m just saving all the scraps in.

As you can see, pretty close to the edge right there But need to do some more trimming on this side. See, I’ve got bit of a border still. So, I’m just going to go back in with my knife and just as I go, I can just toss these scraps, op, You want, you want? There you go. I got to try some too. It’s a good cake. – So we’ve got our icing. – It’s been chilling for like 30 minutes, it’s a bit thicker now, it’s had a chance to cool, you can see it’s kind of holding on to those peaks which is what we want I’m, again, not a huge frosting person, so, I think an even layer in the center, and an even layer on top is the perfect amount to go with the cake.

To start, we’re just going to add a dab of frosting right in the center and we’re just going to spread it out a bit and this is just like a little bit of glue to keep our cake from sliding around while we’re decorating it. And then, what I like to do when I’m adding my frosting is just to put a big dollop in the middle and kind of move it out from there to get to the edges. And then, I have have my handy-dandy offset spatula your best friend in the cake decorating.

Second layer on top, since we have this perfect smooth layer that was our bottom, I’m just going to use that as our top. So, I will flip this upside down and then gently, looks pretty even to me. I think we’re good. So, I’m pretty much done, I’m just putting some final swooshes on top. There’s a few different ways you can style your cake but there’s something about the nice little peaks that are sort of reminiscent of a diner cake that has the glass case over it, you know? That’s always like the most inviting cake to me.

And something I like to do is just do like a sort of S-shape and lift my spatula. Why not just add one more chocolatey element to our super chocolatey cake. Well, doesn’t that look just like the most inviting chocolate cake you have ever seen? I am so excited to cut into it. (upbeat music) It’s so good. I love chocolate cake. Cake’s are super chocolatey, super moist frosting is like very light, but also very chocolatey Fork for Chels. – Aah. That’s so good. – We did it. I am sharing the cake, cause I have to, social norms. I can’t wait to share my chocolate cake with you guys. This is my perfect chocolate cake that I’ve been developing for three days and I hope you guys like it, please let me know what you think.

– If you insist. – Do you need a fork? – Yes, please, thank you. – The curls on top are a nice artistic touch. – The frosting’s so soft. – It’s quiet. – Is there cream cheese in the frosting? – There is. – It’s got a nice tang, and it’s like fluffier than it looked. – It’s actually a whipped ganache, and then I whipped cream cheese into that. Because I was like, it’s deslish, we need some cream cheese.

– That’s the best chocolate frosting I think I’ve ever had. – Wow. McKenzie. Your check’s in the mail. – It’s the best one I’ve ever had too. – Well, I can’t wait for my dad to try this. That’s all I have to say about it. (laughter) – I’m just concerned there’s chocolate in my teeth. (upbeat music) .

Chef Lena is trying 12 of the strangest chocolate cake recipes to find the most perfect, decadent, moist chocolate cake to ever exist. Watch her try chocolate cake recipes that incorporate mashed potatoes, mayonnaise, buttermilk, olive oil, and coffee. For Lena’s best-ever, easy chocolate cake recipe:

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