Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze

Well, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and Easter is just days away, so I really don’t have a reasonable explanation as to why I would feel the need to create such a dark and intense dessert followed by moody and borderline-ominous photos.  The thing is, that just seems to be my frame of mind these days: well, not moody and ominous, but dark, rich, and chocolate-loving. In this case, my inspiration for the flavours of the cake came solely from a jar of dark chocolate covered espresso beans (the ones in the photos) that I bought a few weeks ago because, well, as you may have guessed if you follow my tweets on twitter, that I am often yearning for good coffee, chocolate, and caffeine in general. Sure, some may call that an addiction, but I prefer to call it a deep and passionate love affair. The style and photo inspiration came from a gorgeous blog I found a few months back through Pinterest, from this photo here, taken by John Cullen. The photo and cake are from designer Nikole Herriott‘s blog, who happens to be a local talent. She, among many other wonderful things, creates the most stunning and unique wooden pedestal plates. You can see them here. Let’s pray I can someday be the proud owner of one!

So, as any self-respecting chocolate and coffee addict would do, I decided to go ahead and try a chocolate espresso bundt cake and top it with a dark chocolate cinnamon glaze. If you happened to catch my recent post about the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Glaze, you’ll remember that I am quite taken with bundt cake pans, even though my collection was pretty sad at a whopping 1 pan. Since then, I’ve added 2 more bundt pans to my collection, and couldn’t wait another day to get bundting. In this case, it’s actually an official Kugelhopf pan, which I really love, but the final cake took on a slightly less intricate shape, simply because the batter didn’t fill up the entire pan. I really didn’t mind, since it appears a bit more simple.

The cake itself is a rich, deep dark, chocolate cake kept moist with butter and sour cream. The method of warming the butter and cocoa on the stove first, then whisking in the remaining ingredients, was a first for me, but I feel it was a success, and it was kind of a welcomed change. I decided to add some cinnamon to the dark chocolate glaze because I love the combination of espresso and cinnamon; it’s reminiscent of my beloved triple-lattes sprinkled with cinnamon, but it also adds a neat, almost Mexican, dimension to the cake.  I should add, though, that the flavour of the espresso powder and cinnamon in the glaze is subtle, and really just boosts and enhances the amazing flavour of the dark chocolate, both in the cake and glaze. 

That’s also why I feel it’s really important to use the best quality chocolate you can. I made this cake a few days ago, and just tried it today for the first time (once I finally had the chance to photograph it!). I was really surprised at how amazingly moist it was, and the flavours really came together nicely, I imagine even more so than day 1. I suppose that’s one of the many wonderful things about bundt cakes, and one of the reasons why they are quickly becoming a favourite on my love-to-bake list.

From a photography perspective, you may have noticed that, up until now, I tend to love taking bright, white backgrounds, and uber-happy baked-good photographs. Well, that certainly hasn’t changed, but I’ve secretly always been absolutely smitten with dark, moody food photographs, however, as I discovered today, they definitely require a mental shifting of gears. Perhaps it’s mainly because I have never attempted it before, and because I’m pretty new to food photography, but it was tricky at first. In the end, I found it most effective to underexpose the photos a bit and to avoid too much incoming window-light. I’m not sure if that’s how the pros would do it, but it’s what I found worked for me to achieve the look I was going for.

I also found that boosting the photos in Photoshop (I always start with The Pioneer Woman’s “Boost” action), really helped to bring the depth to the photo. Speaking of the pros, I have some serious professional food-photographer crushes these days, such as John Cullen, Tina Rupp, Jim Norton (who actually shot some of my work recently!), and Katie Quinn Davies–they have all mastered this type of photography, among others, which is why I consider each of their portfolios the ultimate food-photography inspiration. I was lucky enough to have an array of Grant’s grandmother’s (Nanny) vintage silver cake and sweet serving dishes complete with the perfect patina for the dramatic vibe I was going for. Love when that happens! This photo above makes me think of a ghostly tea party, of sorts. Now that I think about it, perhaps the vibe of this photo shoot is a side-effect of the hauntingly beautiful Black Swan we watched late last night by candlelight and the pattering sound of rain outside.

I hope you’re having a not so dark-and-ominous weekend, but that you enjoy this cake (most definitely not a dark-and-ominous experience.).

Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) high quality dark Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) instant espresso powder dissolved into 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • For the Glaze:
  • 4 oz (114 g) high quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup (76 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan or Kugelhopf pan.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add cocoa, stirring until smooth. Whisk in the espresso water and remove from heat.
  3. Add the sugar, sour cream, vanilla and eggs to the warmed cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add all at once to the first mixture, whisking until well blended.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch and has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Cool in pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Carefully loosen the cake with a knife and invert onto a large plate.
  5. For the Glaze:
  6. Place the chocolate, butter, corn syrup and cinnamon in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth.
  7. Assembly of the Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze:
  8. Pour warm glaze over bundt cake. Keep covered in a cake-keeper at room temperature for up to 4 days.
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[cake recipe adapted from Chocolate Bundt Cake from About.com]

[glaze recipe adapted from Baked Explorations]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Vanilla Bundt Cake via Sweetapolita

Perhaps it’s the European in me, or particularly the Maltese portion, that craves and enjoys denser cakes. What a change from the sky-high fluffy layer cakes I so enjoy creating, but wow, so quick, easy, and tasty. I bought a great Bundt pan (it was hard to choose a style, since they are seemingly endless!) from Nordic Ware a few months ago, and have a list of about 25 variations I’m eager to try. Last night I made this classic Vanilla  Bean Bundt Cake & Vanilla Bean Glaze, and it turned out so incredibly yummy. The girls sat up on the counter and helped me glaze it–we may have gone a little overboard, but can you really ever have too much Vanilla Bean Glaze?

Here’s a photo that brings me a slightly curious amount of joy, but you can see why! I wish these were mine, but, alas, I only own one Bundt pan so far. I have a feeling I will start to collect them the way I have cake pedestals, because they too are so pretty, unique, and, of course, functional. I love that some are authentically retro, and others simply look that way.

As you can see in the photo, they’re practically art. I discovered and favourited this gorgeous Bundt cake pan extravaganza on Flickr many months back, and I’m so glad I did, because it lead me to its owner: Abbey, the ever-creative and self-described “art-obsessed” blogger from aesthetic outburst. If you haven’t checked out her fun blog yet, and are craving a punch of colour and inspiration, I highly recommend it. Isn’t it funny how the Internet can take you down the most unexpected of roads sometimes, which is when you discover some of the best gems? Love that.

Vanilla Bundt Cake via Sweetapolita

Isn’t that just vanilla happiness on a plate? As, I mentioned, my little cakelets and I may have gone a little gangbusters with the glazing, but, hey, we all needed a turn, and it was so much fun . 

Vanilla Bundt Cake via Sweetapolita

The recipe itself is very straightforward, and with the luxe addition of 2 whole vanilla beans into the cake and another into the glaze, I found this to be a really simple, flavourful and, dare I say, special Bundt cake, compared to some of the more basic recipes. (I imagine that if you didn’t want to include 2 whole vanilla beans into the cake itself, you could get away with one and a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.) As with any pound or Bundt cake, the cake’s texture, or crumb, is dense but moist–divine, if you ask me. I just loved this cake, and had several pieces this afternoon. 

Vanilla Bundt Cake via Sweetapolita

Love those vanilla bean flecks!

Vanilla Bundt Cake via Sweetapolita

I find that the flavours in a cake like this tend to improve after a day or so, as long as kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It’s a perfectly delightful breakfast, tea-time snack, or occasion cake. Place it on a plate for a pretty look, or high upon a pedestal to celebrate its loveliness.

For those with an interest in history, I read an interesting article from The Nibble, explaining the history of the Bundt pan, as well as more about the authentic European inspiration, the Austrian Kugelhopf. A quick and interesting read: Bundt History.

 

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks)(255 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tablespoon 915 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) whole milk
  • about 1 cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon extract until well combined. At low speed add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  5. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.
  6. For the Glaze:
  7. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into whole milk. Let sit in a spouted container, such as a large pyrex measuring cup, for about an hour. Add confectioners' sugar gradually, whisking, until you get desired consistency--about 1 cup.
  8. You want to make sure that it's not too runny, or it won't dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first--keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the vanilla milk.
  9. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze over top.
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[Bundt Cake recipe adapted from Epicurious. Vanilla Bean Glaze recipe from The Pioneer Woman]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts: