Tunnel of Awesomeness.

Here we sit, just a few days out from Christmas. Odds are pretty good that you’re in the middle of baking, shopping and socializing. (If you’re one of those uber-organized people who had their gifts wrapped two weeks ago, with perfect hand-lettered gift tags, well, then, I’m not sure we’ll have much in common. You can stay and read about the cake though.) While cookies are everyone’s treat du jour this season, sometimes, you need something different. Something with “wow” factor. Bonus points if you can combine “wow” with chocolate.

You know, something like this. 🙂

What’s on the inside is what counts, right? This cake is more than just a pretty face – when you cut into it, you discover this rich, fudgy layer of, well, awesomeness.

It gets better though. This isn’t a fussy cake. This is a “I have people coming for dinner, my house isn’t cleaned, and I still need to bake a dessert” cake. (Bundt pans must have been invented by a busy woman.) Mix, dump, bake. Cool, flip, glaze. Ta-da! You’re done!

This is the first recipe I’ve made where I was able to use the weights, rather than the measurements. I’ve used my kitchen scale before (thanks, Grandma W!), but never for all of the dry ingredients. Let me just say, I am sold on this way of measuring for baking. Set the bowl on the scale, zero it out and dump. 10 ounces of flour in the bowl? Zero again and add the cocoa. Move on to the next ingredient. For once, Andy couldn’t come in to the kitchen and say, “Did you use EVERY measuring cup?” 😀 Life-changing, I tell you. Because of this, I’ve included the weights, rather than the volume measurements. If you’d like to see the volume measurements, check out the original recipe on Annie’s blog. (And then, go add a kitchen scale to your Christmas list. Santa can’t be done shopping yet.) 😉

I made half of the chocolate ganache, and added some mint extract to it, since the chocolate/mint combination is one of my very favorite flavors. I also couldn’t leave well enough alone – I decided to make a white chocolate mint ganache for it as well. (Hey, if one ganache is good, two are better, right? Right.) It turned out very well, even though I may have over-baked it. (Whoops…) Even the leftovers were good, but really, how can you go wrong with something like this?

Tunnel of Fudge Cake with Mint Glaze

For the pan:
1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark, as I have yet to find just Dutch-processed in a store near me.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For the cake:
1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
10 ounces all-purpose flour
2 1/4 ounces Dutch-processed cocoa powder (again, I used the Hershey’s.) 
8 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 ounces sugar
5 1/4 ounces brown sugar
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the mint chocolate ganache:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
splash of vanilla extract

For the mint white chocolate ganache
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
mint extract to taste (I just kept adding till it was minty enough!)

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the cocoa powder until smooth. Using a basting brush, brush the butter/cocoa powder mixture all over the inside of a 12-cup bundt pan. Set the pan aside while you prepare the cake batter.

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let the mixture stand for a minute. Stir until the chocolate is smooth. (This is the moment where I began to seriously doubt the recipe. Watery chocolate? Weird… but just keep going. Somehow, magic happens when you bake this and it just works.) 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and salt. Whisk together, then set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, beat together the eggs and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and regular sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on medium-high). Turn the speed to low and add the egg mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate/water mixture next, and mix until just combined. Finally, add the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix.

Pour/spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45, or until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. (This is where I think I failed. I never saw the edges of the cake “pull away,” so I left it in the oven for probably an extra 10 minutes. In spite of this, I still had a fudgy center – just not quite as fudgy as Annie’s picture shows.)

Remove cake from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool. Allow cake to cool in pan for an hour and a half. (Yup, and hour and a half. No rushing here!) Invert the cake onto a serving platter and allow to cool completely, about two hours more.

To make the mint chocolate ganache/glaze, combine the chocolate, cream and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture is smooth, stirring often. Blend in the vanilla and mint extract. Set aside until the ganache thickens, about 30 minutes, then drizzle over the cake. Allow the ganache to “firm up” on cake before drizzling the white chocolate ganache over it.

To make the white chocolate ganache/glaze, heat the cream in a small saucepan until boiling, and place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken, then drizzle over the cake.

Decorate with sprinkles as desired.

Cake from Cook’s Illustrated via Annie’s Eats
White Chocolate Ganache adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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