Chocolate Cola Cake with Toasted Coconut-Pecan Frosting
1 ½ ounces (about 3/8 cup) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 ¾ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cherry cola or Dr Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans or coast with vegetable cooking spray. Line the bottom of each with a round of parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper.
2. Combine the chocolate and buttermilk in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts, about 7 minutes; do not let the buttermilk come near a boil, or it will curdle. Remove fro the heat and whisk until smooth.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Beat in the oil and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the sugar until well blended. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth and homogenized.
4. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set these dry ingredients aside. In a 2 or 3 alternating additions, add the dry ingredients and cola to the chocolate mixture, beating between additions. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans.
5. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let the layer cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely, at least 1 hour.
6. To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake plate or stand. Cover the top with about ¾ cup of the Toasted Coconut-Pecan Frosting, spreading it evenly to the edge. Repeat with the second layer and another ¾ cup frosting. Finally, spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake, allowing the excess to drip decoratively down the sides.
7. Refrigerate the cake, uncovered for at least 1 hour until the frosting sets. The cover with a cake dome, large bowl or plastic wrap until ready to serve. This allows the moisture to even out and prevents the frosting from forming a crust. Chilling also makes the cake easier to cut, something that’s best done with a hot, wet serrated knife.
Toasted Coconut Pecan Frosting (makes about 4 cups)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 ounces)
2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a large baking sheet spread out the coconut and pecans separately. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, tossing the coconut once, until the coconut is very lightly browned and the pecans are fragrant. Transfer to a dish and let the cool. Let the oven on.
2. Spoon the condensed milk unto a heatproof glass baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and set the dish in a roasting pan or larger baking dish. Fill the pan with enough hot water to reach about halfway up the side of the smaller baking dish. Bake for 2 hours, stirring once or twice, until the milk is a light caramel color. Carefully remove the foil with caution, the hot steam can burn.
3. Transfer the caramelized milk to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the toasted coconut and pecans. Let cool slightly. Cover the frosting with plastic wrap, pressing it directly unto the surface, then refrigerate until cool but not set, 1 to 1 ½ hours.