I have one of the best assistants ever — a wonderful colleague.  So for his birthday this week, I made a cake.  He asked for chocolate, so I knew the perfect recipe.  The Chocolate Ganache Cake from the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten).  It’s easy and the results are super reliable.


I’ve always preferred Ina to Martha.  Especially when it comes to cooking.  Her recipes are straightforward yet elegant, the sort of dishes someone who loves to cook for the people she loves would make.  There’s no pretension, and far fewer ingredients and complicated steps.

This cake is found in Barefoot Contessa Parties (2001).


1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temp

1 cup sugar

4 extra large eggs at room temp

1 16oz can of Hershey’s syrup

1 tbs vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

8 oz good semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp instant coffee granules (I omit this because I don’t do caffeine)

How I made it:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan (I used this kind of pan) with Baker’s Joy or a similar baking spray with flour.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This time I couldn’t seem to get the butter to the stage of “light and fluffy” — it just seemed to mix into the little balls of sugar butter.  This is why I need a kitchenaide mixer . . . and enough counter space for a kitchenaide mixer. 

Anyway, whether it gets “light and fluffy” or not, beat in the eggs one at a time.  Then add the syrup and vanilla.  You’ll get a medium chocolate brown batter.  Add the flour slowly and beat until just mixed (Ina warns not to overbeat because it will get tough, but I haven’t had that problem).

Pour the batter into the cake pan (if you use the springform pan, make sure you bake it on a cookie sheet because the chances it will smoosh out the bottom as it bakes are great).  Bake 40 minutes until the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan but the middle is still glossy (set, but glossy).  Let cool overnight.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate chips with the heavy cream in a double boiler.  Whisk gently until you have a lovely dark chocolate sauce.  Slowly pour the ganache over the cake, using a rubber spatula to smooth over the sides.

It’s a short dense cake (more like a torte), so it needs some decoration.  I thought about whipped cream, but the cake already has a pretty intense sweetness.  So I went with mixed berries (raspberry, blackberry, cherry).  Ina recommends gold leaf or candied flowers.

The results:

Rave reviews!!  It’s an intense chocolate cake, the kind where you only need a small slice.  When you first look at the cake, you worry it will be dry.  But either looks are deceiving or the ganache makes it moist – whichever it is, it’s YUMMY!!

For next time:

A more decadent topper.  I’m thinking it will be a wonderful Valentine’s cake, so maybe strawberries sliced to look like hearts.  Or maybe making TWO layers and whipping the ganache for the filling, with the plain ganache over the whole shebang.  FANCY!!