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National Chocolate Cake Day: A reason to celebrate

LAVO Italian Restaurant's 20 Layer Chocolate Cake
LAVO Italian Restaurant's 20 Layer Chocolate CakeKelley Daly

Here we are, three weeks into 2014 already. How's the year going so far? Are you keeping those New Year's resolutions? Are all the holiday decorations put away? Have you recovered from the shock of of your holiday spending? With all the post holiday discipline we impose on ourselves January can be a bit of a drag. It's time to snap out of those January blues and celebrate because Monday, January 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day!

Chocolate has been celebrated for centuries. Since its use by Mayan kings, it has played a role in religious ceremonies, been used as currency, used as rations to feed our military during the American Revolution and the Civil War and even been used to secure sexual favors! Perhaps I should save that information for Valentine's Day.

Chocolate was originally consumed as a beverage but in 1764 Dr. James Baker discovered how to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans between two massive circular millstones...and the first chocolate "cake" was born.

Chocolate cake as we know it in this country came onto the scene in the mid- 1930's when the Duff Company of Pittsburg (a molasses manufacturer) introduced Devil's food chocolate cake mixes. Additional cake mixes were introduced a few years later by General Mills and Duncan Hines and chocolate cake rapidly gained in popularity.

According to TLC Cooking, chocolate cake is the second most popular dessert in America - second only to fudge. That being said, a fudgy chocolate cake should definitely top the list. By the way that all-American apple pie came in at number six. It's time to change the saying to "as American as chocolate cake!"

How do you plan to celebrate? If you happen to be in New York, here are a few gourmet options for the ultimate indulgence.

  • The Chocolate Bruno at Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya, served with homemade green tea ice cream and caramel drizzle, is a Japanese twist on the Bromberg brothers’ signature dessert created over a decade ago. The Bruno is a deep, fudgy chocolate cake perfected in the early days of Blue Ribbon with the help of the Brombergs’ mentor, Chef Bruno Hess from Le Recamier restaurant in Paris.
  • Chef Michael Lomonaco rounds out his menu at Porter House New York with a classic Devil’s Food Chocolate Layer Cake. Simple and elegant, it hits all the high notes of a steakhouse dessert with fudge frosting and vanilla whipped cream.
  • 20 layers – literally – comprise the 20-Layer Chocolate Cake at LAVO Italian Restaurant. It is a towering creation, by Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella, built with Devil’s food cake and peanut-butter whipped mascarpone.

Realizing everyone can't be in New York to taste one of these decadent creations, I asked LAVO's Chef/Partner Scamardella's to share the recipe for his amazing 20-Layer Chocolate Cake pictured above. Go ahead, give it a shot - and save me a slice!

20 Layer Chocolate Cake
Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella
Yield: 1 cake

Batter
INGREDIENTS
4 ¾ cup Sugar
3 ½ cup AP Flour
¼ tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Baking Powder
1 ½ cup Cocoa Powder
26 oz Buttermilk
9 Eggs
26 oz Coffee, brewed
12 oz Butter

METHOD
Mix the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl with a whisk attachment
Melt the butter in the hot coffee
Add the warm coffee and eggs in alternating batches
Add the buttermilk, scraping down the bowl as you go
Scrape down the bowl at least 3X to make sure batter is perfectly smooth and there are no lumps whatsoever
Using a scale to measure weight, pour one tenth of batter on to a round 10” cake pan that is greased and lined with parchment
Bake at 275F for 6 minutes
Turn around bake additional 6 minutes
Allow to fully cool on speed rack

Peanut Butter Mascarpone Recipe
INGREDIENTS
5 cups Confectioners sugar
4 cups Heavy cream
4 cups Peanut butter, natural
3 cups Mascapone

METHOD
In the bowl of mixer attach wire whisk
Whisk sugar and heavy cream until smooth
Add peanut butter and whisk until blended
Add mascapone and mix until just incorporate
Refrigerate until use

Assembly
METHOD
Layer cake with 1 cup of filling per 1 layer of cake
Build cakes 10 layers each of cake and mascapone filling (20 layers total)

Ganache
INGREDIENTS
12 oz Dark chocolate 58%
6 oz Heavy cream, heated
1.5 oz Light corn syrup
METHOD
In a large bowl place chocolate, corn syrup and pour hot cream over mix top
Let stand for 2 minutes before stirring (do not whisk)
Fold with spatula
Mix until chocolate is melted and smooth
Pour over cake on wire rack