I was sixteen and running late for my first date with a boy whom I really liked and I made the cataclysmic mistake of telling my dad to “entertain” him for a few minutes. After I sprayed my last bit of Aqua Net onto my two inch high bangs, glossed over my lips and slipped on my “pumps”, I walked into our family room to find my dad, six foot three inches tall, and my date tap dancing on our wood floors while my dad whistled and sang, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
I almost passed out. How could HE embarrass me like that?! And then my date looked over at me with a huge smile and my dad innocently asked, “What?! You SAID that I should entertain him, didn’t you?” How could I argue with that? I spent the rest of the evening laughing with my date over the whole embarrassing dance routine and realized it was nice to be dating a guy with a good sense of humor…a lot like my crazy dad.
Little did I know, I would be marrying this guy several years down the road and we would always fondly look back on our first date and retell it to mortified friends, relatives and later our children who are now at dating age and would absolutely kill my husband if he pulled anything like that on them.
My dad has always been a very loose cannon, but I think that is what I love most about him. I have laughed the hardest with my dad, tasted the very best food with him and have been one of the centers of his universe for 42 years now. And yesterday, on his birthday, I got to give him a small token of my absolute love and appreciation for him—a big, messy, gooey and nutty Tunnel of Fudge birthday cake, recipe courtesy of Annie’s Eats.
My dad is the biggest chocoholic I know and this cake seems to be quite the homage to chocolate with a ooey gooey chocolate center, a dark, rich crumb and is finessed with a thick chocolate ganache glaze that is oozed over the cake. I sprinkled mine with nuts because he doesn’t believe any baker worth her salt would dare offer chocolate without ’em and I have to admit a nutty birthday cake is rather apropos for a guy like my dad.
This cake was a real show stopper friends. My entire office ate it up like we were on a deserted island and I smiled and not-so-humbly accepted many compliments about this being “delicious”, “incredible” and totally a chocolate lover’s dream cake (albeit a very messy one to make and eat).
Why don’t you live it up and make this crazy rich and chocolaty cake just because? You will not be disappointed one iota except perhaps with the mess that ensues. It does require a fairly hefty amount of separate bowls, pots, mixers, etc. Recruit a dishwasher who is ready to trade labor for cake…that’s what I’d do if I were you. I am always all about honesty here.
Tunnel of Fudge Birthday Cake
Adjusted minorly from Annie’s Eats (from Cooks Illustrated)
Makes one bundt cake
2 T. melted butter
2 T. cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder (original recipe uses Dutch Process but I did not have some so click link to follow recipe exactly)
1/2 t. baking soda
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
one and a quarter cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Glaze:
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, melt butter and whisk in ONE tablespoon of the cocoa powder. Use a basting brush to baste a bundt pan. Get in every crevice to insure the cake will come out properly later. Add 1-2 T. of cocoa powder to the pan and tapped it around until it coated the entire pan, similar to flouring a pan.
In a small-ish bowl, pour boiling water over the chopped chocolate and let sit while it melts. In the meantime, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour through salt. If your powdered sugar is lumpy, please sift that first. Whisk together the hot water and melted chocolate until smooth and let it sit. Crack one egg at a time into a liquid measuring cup and then pour the egg into a bowl. This way, if you get one bad egg, it doesn’t ruin the whole batch of eggs you have cracked.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy and well combined. Add the eggs, and beat on low until combined. Add in the vanilla and combine. Scrape the melted chocolate into the stand-mixer bowl and beat on low until amply mixed together. Add half of the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until just combined. Don’t over mix. Scrape down the bowl several times and mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated.
Carefully scoop the batter into the bundt pan. The neater the better here, trying not to get batter on the middle, “wand” of the bundt pan. This is so you don’t have stray bits of chocolate that burn towards the top of the middle of the bundt pan as the cake bakes. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan.
I let the cake cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack in the pan and then turned the cake upside down and carefully let it slide out onto my serving plate. The original instructions have you cool it entirely in the pan, but my concern was that it might be more likely to stick this way since it would be steaming the sides of the cake while it cools. I cooled it about a half an hour before glazing it because I was in a hurry and that honestly worked fine.
For the Glaze: Put the chocolate, cream and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed medium-sized pot. Cook over a low heat and stir frequently until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Stir in the vanilla and let cool for 30 minutes. Then pour or ladle the glaze carefully over the cake in a zigzag fashion.
Serve when set-up and cooled. Enjoy!