RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

When you need a drop-dead chocolate cake

Posted by Sheryl Julian  September 20, 2010 05:00 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


This is a handsome and delicious chocolate cake that Holly Safford of The Catered Affair gave me when I was editing "The New Boston Globe Cookbook" last year. I made it several times when she sent me the recipe, and then moved on to other desserts.

I made it over the weekend to bring to a dinner and I fell in love with the cake all over again. It's surprisingly light because you beat the whites separately and fold them into the batter. When the cake is cooled, you spoon a delectable chocolate-espresso glaze over the cake, which seeps in just a little.

Holly calls the cake "Aunt Selma's Chocolate Cake," but no one remembers whose aunt Selma is. When Holly got the recipe, it was signed Helen Daly.

Aunt Selma's Chocolate Cake with Espresso Glaze

Makes 1 large cake


Butter and flour (for the pan)

1 cup cool black coffee

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the coffee and chocolate. Cook, stirring, until they melt; do not boil.

3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.

4. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.

5. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour. Scrape the batter up from the bottom to make sure it is well blended.

6. In an electric mixer or with a rotary beater, beat the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Stir a large spoonful of whites into the chocolate batter. Fold in the remaining whites as lightly as possible until no white patches show.

7. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until the top is firm and the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes.

8. Turn the cake out onto a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Leave to cool completely.


1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a saucepan, heat the cream and espresso. Add the chocolate and cook, stirring, until smooth; do not boil.

2. Cool the glaze for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Spoon the glaze over the cake. Set aside for 30 minutes to set. Use two wide metal spatulas to transfer the cake to a serving platter. Adapted from Helen Daly. Reprinted from "The New Boston Globe Cookbook"

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

The Recipe Box Project:

If you want to contribute a recipe to The Recipe Box Project, please write it below. Also tell us where you got it (package box, cookbook, mom, friend -- include the name). We're looking for the kinds of dishes that people grew up on, that were served at family suppers, that tell a story, that are typically New England, or that you brought with you from a far away place to New England. We will print one of the recipes in the Food section once a month. To ask any questions, write to Debra Samuels, who is overseeing this project, at To discuss your recipes, click here.