Posted by: Catherine | November 5, 2009

My Sweet Bee and Susan’s Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting (RR*, The Third Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinner)



(*Reader Recipe)

My friend Susan has been making this cake since she was a little girl–it comes by way of her aunt, and namesake, who used to teach at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Boston and specializes in desserts and pastries (she even made a birthday cake for Julia Child!). She now works for a non-profit that teaches underprivileged people cooking skills in hopes of placing them in jobs in the restaurant industry. Knowing I’m a chocoholic, Susan been telling me about this cake for ages  … and when she asked me what she might make for the dinner I didn’t have to think too hard. Susan says she always makes two cakes and freezes one–that would make me sleep better, too.

Before I share the recipe…here’s my sweet bee. Emma was a bee for her very first Halloween when she was just over a year old…and then again this year.


Check out her Bee Shoes. Yes…this is how I spend my spare time, making Bee Shoes! I used yellow electrical tape on some black flats.


Serves 12

1 3/4 cups flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

2 t. baking powder

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 t. vanilla extract

1 cup cold, liquid espresso (made from instant coffee)

Set the oven at 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with melted shortening or butter. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit it exactly, then grease the paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium speed for about three minutes or until the eggs are light and fluffy.

Add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla and beat just to mix them in.

With the mixer set at its lowest speed, beat the dry ingredients into the batter alternately with the coffee, begining and ending with the flour. The batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and transfer it to the hot oven. Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Cut a round of cardboard eight inches in diameter (it shouldn’t show beneath the cake). Turn the cake out onto the cardboard and let the cake cool completely.

Ganache Frosting

8 oz. heavy cream

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 T light corn syrup

In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Remove it from the heat and add the chocolate and corn syrup.

Let the mixture sit for five minutes, stirring gently once or twice with the cream. Do not sir forcefully or you’ll create air bubbles in the frosting.

The mixture should be of a pouring consistency; let it sit a few minutes longer if it seems too thin. If it seems too thick to pour at any point, add another spoonful of heavy cream. Set a rimmed baking sheet under the cooling rack holding the cake.

Pour half the frosting over the cake. Using the palette knife, gently push the frosting over the edge of the cake (do this only once), allowing the topping to drip down the sides. Smooth eh sides with the knife.

Let the cake sit for 10 minutes. Scrape any frosting from the overflow back into the remaining frosting in the saucepan. If the mixture has hardened, warm it slightly by placing it over very low heat for a few seconds.

Pour the remaining ganache over the cake. Spread it with the palette knife. Let the cake sit for 30 to 45 minutes if you’re going to be adding decorations.



  1. Your sweet bee is adorable, so cute!!! (LOL)and the chocolate cake is amazing, nice pictures! gloria

  2. Look at the Sweet Bee and her matching stockings and shoes! Awesome! The cake is purty, too, but not as much as the Sweet Bee!

  3. Cutest bee I’ve ever seen. And love the shot of shoes and stockings. And since I tasted that cake I can attest that it was divine.

  4. The cake is making my mouth water! Having one in the freezer for ’emergencies’ is a great idea. =) Emma is totally cute in her bee costume. I love the shoes!

  5. That cake looks so good. Love the shoes and socks.

  6. what a cute bee. I love her shoes too!

    That cake looks delicious and I’m adding it to me list 🙂

  7. Oh boy, I LOVE that costume…she looks marvelous!

    The cake looks fantastic, too…dark and sexy!

  8. Oh my, what a darling little bee. I am so impressed by your cordwaining skills! You’re torturing me with that gorgeous cake – it’s breakfast time here and I want to eat it NOW. Is that wrong?

  9. emma looks cute in the costume. your cake is making me crave

  10. Your cake looks divine! Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks much for posting. Your “bee” is unbeliebable cute!

  11. I love Emma’s costume, she’s so cute! The chocolate cake sounds heavenly!

  12. I adore all of the detail of Emma’s costume!

    The cake looks so moist and yummy, I like the addition of coffee.

  13. Holy crap, that cake looks amazing!

  14. Emma looks so cute! The cake looks absolutely perfect! What a great texture. And Ganache instead of frosting rocks!

  15. What an adorable bee costume Emma has on! She’s adorable!
    The cake isn’t bad, either. Moist and chocolately- with a luscious ganache. Yum.

  16. Emma is beautiful! And that slice of cake is perfection, just sheer perfection.

  17. Ooh buttermilk in this cake. Buttermilk makes such a great cake. Love the bee shoes!!

  18. Oh your sweet bee and her shoes are super adorable! And this cake is beautifully luscious-looking!

  19. I love ganache. I make a quick recipe using equal amounts of melted chocolate and creme fraiche…with some homemade vanilla extract to boot. Lovely, glossy and perfect for a scrumptious cake like this

  20. Such a sweet bee costume! Nicely done!

    Also that was one of the best choc cakes I have ever had. It was light and not overly sweet or laden with frosting. Well, of course choc ganache is the Rolls Royce of “frosting” isn’t it?!

    I love the idea of combining choc with creme fraiche, KB.

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