Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Wipe that grimace of disgust off your face!  Would I really be posting this recipe if it was gross?  I assure you I am 100% anti-mayonnaise.  I think it is the most disgusting supposedly edible substance you could ever put in your mouth.  I can't even stand to be near a jar unless it is completely sealed, with no crusty or quivering mayo creeping over the edges (ugggh shiver of disgust).  I practically had to don a biohazard suit to prepare this recipe, but I was determined to conquer the mayo cake!

If I hate mayonnaise so much, you ask, why did I feel compelled to spend hours ruining a cake with it? (Not so fast, the cake is damn good).  Pure, morbid curiosity.  I've never been able to resist the urge to teeter out onto the culinary limb.  Normal is boring, as I always say!  This recipe really isn't all that "out-there," though.  Unsubstantiated sources tell me that this cake is some kind of Southern favorite (Southerners, correct me if I'm wrong).  Others claim it is a throwback to the depression era (when people couldn't afford butter, but had plenty of sugar, chocolate, and eggs?  Hm, sounds fishy...).  Whatever the origins of mayo-cake may be, the Internet is rife with recipes for it.  Several recipes even call for a chocolate-mayo frosting, but I drew the line there.  While I managed to wrap my mind around the idea of mayo in a cake (it's just oil and eggs, juuuussst oil and eggs.  Every cake has a variation of oil and eggs!  Plus, the oven cooks it alllll away) thinking about globs of raw mayo, wiggling and jiggling on top of the cake, gave me the willies.  Oh god, that is just revolting.  I'm going to gag.  Let's change the subject - back to delicious cake!
Chocolate and mayo... match made in Heaven?

The worst thing about making this cake was that I repeatedly had to remind myself NOT to lick the batter off the spoon.  HORROR!  I cannot begin to tell you how grossed out I would be if I ate raw mayo mixed with chocolate and sugar.  Barf.  That being said, a good cook tastes her food along the way to learn about the flavors that make up the final product, so I will admit that I took a tentative, minuscule lick (more of a poke with the tip of my tongue, really) off the end of my spatula after I'd poured the batter into the pans.  And it wasn't horrible!  It tasted like regular chocolate cake batter, and the batter actually looked really appetizing.  It was smooth and glossy, and deeply chocolaty.  MMMM I wish it hadn't had mayonnaise in it so I could've licked the bowl!!!!  Even though the batter tasted fine, I wasn't willing to risk accidental consumption of unmodified mayo.  I'm was sure that a sinister, unmixed mayo-blob lurked somewhere in the dark folds of the batter, waiting to ambush my tongue.  Shudder!!!  Besides, I knew I would consume enough frosting and ganache to make up for lost batter.  It took every iota of my willpower to avoid gobbling up the frosting like chocolate pudding. 

Don't be fooled by the gloppy, attack-of-the-blob appearance of the partially completed cake.  The gloppy, globby mess gets more recognizable with every step of the recipe, and then... viola!  The sleek slice.  The masterpiece!  The ugly mayo duckling becomes a delicious chocolate swan.  Of course, I had to trick my sister and roommate into eating this devilish dessert ("What?  No, I have no idea who put an empty bottle of mayonnaise in the trash with the empty box of sugar, chocolate chip package, and butter wrappers.  How peculiar..."), and I'm strategically posting this AFTER they've succumbed, muah haha!  And succumb they did.  They salivated and watched eagerly as I cut the cake's chocolate cloak.  They oohed and ahhhed at the superior moist interior, the glossy frosting, and the gown of ganache.  They fell upon their unctuous confections and the room lapsed into silence, punctuated only by an occasional, blissful, "mmmmmmmm."  No other "M" word was mentioned.

Bottom line: the cake was a happy accident, and I will definitely make it again.  In fact, it was one of the best chocolate cakes I've made!  The sea-salt sweetness of the butter frosting is a perfect counterpoint to the bittersweet ganache, and that moist, dark mayo-cake holds its own.  I know which recipe I'm making next time someone wants chocolate cake! (You just made a mental note to yourself not to ask me for chocolate cake, didn't you?  Mistake!!! It's sooo delicious I promise).

For the cake:
2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 cup of wiggling jiggling disgusting mayonnaise
1 1/4 c. water
1 T. brandy

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter two 8 in pans (or two 9-in pans) and dust with flour.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a large bowl, beat the white and brown sugars together with the eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the whole cup of mayo, and beat until incorporated.  In a small bowl, stir together the water and brandy.  Alternate adding the flour-mixture and the water-mixture to the egg batter, starting and ending with the flour-mixture.  Pour batter into pans and bake 30-35 min, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool 10 minutes, remove from pans, and cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the ganache.

1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

Combine the chocolate and the cream in a saucepan.  Stir continuously over low heat until melted and glossy.  Set aside to cool, and start the butter frosting.

Butter Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Sea salt or other coarse salt (I had a sea salt grinder, and used a turn's worth of salt)
2 c. powdered sugar
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (or place in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water if you lead an inconveniently microwaveless life like me).  Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature before continuing.  Whip the butter, salt, and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the cooled chocolate and whip until incorporated.

Get ready to assemble!  We're going to be pouring chocolate over the cake. This can be kind of tricky if you don't have the right tools, but soldier on with your make-shift setup and you'll be fine.  If you have one, place a metal cooling rack inside a cookie sheet with raised sides.  If you have neither, try to find something else that will prevent your table from getting covered in chocolate.  I covered the bottom of a brownie pan with tinfoil, and then put a tinfoil "wall" all around the pan to catch the chocolate ooze.  Put one cake round on your cooling rack/brownie pan setup.  Frost the top and the sides of the cake round with butter frosting.  Top with the other cake round, and use the rest of the butter frosting to cover the cake.  Put the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes to let the frosting set.

Remove the cake from the fridge.  Stir the ganache to break up any skin that has formed, and heat briefly if necessary.  The ganache should be at room temperature, and should have the consistency of loose pudding.  Pour about half of the ganache over the cake, letting it ooze over the top and down the sides.  Use a spatula to guide the ganache over as much of the cake as possible.  Slowly pour the remaining ganache over the cake, again letting it ooze its way down the sides.  Gently smooth the top with your spatula to coax the ganache to drip and drizzle in attractive drops down the sides of the cake.  Set the whole shebang in the fridge and let it set for 20 minutes more.  Remove from the fridge and use the biggest metal spatula you can find to lift the cake off of the cooling rack/brownie pan, and set it on a plate.  Decorate with something pretty (all they had at Whole Foods was a bag of sub-par caramel hearts.  Next time I'm getting Lindt truffles and cutting them in half, and putting truffle halves around the border).  Mmmmmmmayonnaise!!!


  1. mmmmhhh that looks AMAZING....who knew "just" oil and eggs could yield something like THIS!

  2. chocolate cake with hearts on it looks very delicious