Heavens, where have I been?!? It’s been ages since I’ve cooked or baked anything, let alone photographed it. I’ve missed Pretty/Hungry and am super excited to be back!
So where have I been? I’ve been busy interviewing potential assistants. 😉 And good news… I’ve found the perfect one!
Meet my new little kitchen helper: Elsa!
As you can see, she’s already been hard at work helping me make Chris’s birthday cake. And what a cake it is!
This cake is really special… I daresay magical! You see, on the outside, it looks like an ordinary chocolate bundt cake (albeit, with a killer-looking ganache glaze.) But what you don’t see is what’s going on inside! The recipe uses a large amount of cocoa and confectioners sugar in the batter which, when baked, separates into an oozing chocolatey center or “tunnel.” (Hence the name “Tunnel O’ Fudge”… brilliant, no?)
The best part is, it’s easy! You don’t have to fiddle with one type of batter for the cake and a separate mixture for the filling. There’s none of that “fill the pan halfway, then add filling, then cover it with batter…” nonsense. It’s all one homogeneous mixture that does the separating for you! And it’s dang good, I tell ya. So let’s make it!
You’ll need the following:
For the Cake: a bundt pan, 3/4 C. dark cocoa powder, 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped or chips), 1/2 C. boiling water, 2 C. all-purpose flour, 2 C. finely chopped pecans or walnuts, 2 C. confectioners’ sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 5 eggs (at room temperature, 1 T. (that’s a tablespoon) vanilla, 1 C. granulated sugar, 3/4 C. packed brown sugar, 2 1/2 sticks softened butter (unsalted)
For the Ganache: heavy cream (less than 1/2 C.), 4 oz. chocolate (chopped or chips), and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
First off… have a look at my disgusting oven. Inspiring isn’t it?
I’m showing you this atrocity so that you’ll know how your oven rack needs to be positioned. Make sure it’s in the lower middle section of the oven. You’ll likely need to remove your second rack temporarily while baking this cake.
Preheat the oven to 350. (Side note: I’m fairly certain I am a total idiot and baked this cake at 375, which is NOT the correct temperature. If I have ruined my husband’s birthday cake, I have no one to blame but myself. Although, in my defense, my assistant really should have said something.)
Grab some butter and go to town greasing that bundt pan. (The more time you take here, the easier it will be to remove the cake later… take it from me. I rushed this step, and I paid the price.) You could even give it a good spray of Pam after the initial grease-down if you wanted to be extra thorough!
Now dust the pan with cocoa powder, tapping it around to coat all nooks and crannies.
Next, if you didn’t buy them already ground… scoop some pecans into a food processor and grind them up nice and fine! (When I first tasted this cake, I didn’t detect a single nut! They are in there for structure and richness… not necessarily an added texture element. So if you’re my dad and you don’t prefer nuts in your desserts, don’t hate! You’ll still like this cake, I promise.)
Now just whisk together the ground nuts with the flour, cocoa, powdered sugar, & salt in a large-ish bowl. (See how you can still see larger nut pieces in my bowl? Grind yours up more finely than that. I was being lazy.)
Next grab your 2 oz. of chopped chocolate (see how I went fancy and bought mine pre-chopped? Not!) Dump it into a small bowl and pour 1/2 C boiling water over it, whisking or stirring quickly with a fork until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
It will be quite thin when the chocolate and water are combined.
Crack your 5 eggs into a large measuring cup and add the tablespoon of vanilla. Beat lightly with a fork and set aside.
Next you will need a very large mixing bowl. (This is the one ALL the batter ingredients are about to be dumped into.) Start by throwing in the butter and the brown and white sugars. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and dreamy.
Then pour in the egg/vanilla mixture, beating until it is just combined.
Make sure the chocolate/water mixture has cooled, then add that too. (You don’t want it melting your butter or scrambling your eggs so give it a minute if you must.) Again, mix until just combined. No need to beat the heck out of this.
When the chocolate is incorporated, add the massive mixture of flour, cocoa, powdered sugar, nuts, and salt. Beat with the electric mixer until just combined. (Again, I implore you not to over-beat. Extra whipping does not a better cake make.)
The finished batter will look like this. Silky and superb. Remember it won’t be perfectly smooth because of the pecans…. but also remember that you can grind yours more finely than I did if you would rather not detect any nuts in the finished cake.
Pour the batter into your prepared bundt pan and smooth it into all the corners with a rubber spatula. So simple!
Then just let the magic happen!
This needs to bake at 350 (NOT 375… banging my head against the wall) for about 45 minutes. The edges should start pulling away from the pan a bit.
It will emerge from the oven a thing of beauty! TaDaaaa!
Let it cool off on a wire rack for a couple of hours.
Then invert it onto a cake plate. (If you were lazy like me while buttering your pan, this step may take a little coaxing. I had to use a knife to loosen up the edges a little. I highly recommend preventing that if you can. Loosening up the edges is not easy with such a curvacious pan.)
Alright, it’s ganache time!
Ganache is SO fancy, yet SO simple. I’m going to show you my super-quick way of doing it.
No double boiler, no saucepan… just a measuring cup and a microwave. (A measuring cup with a pour spout is very helpful, by the way.)
Pour some heavy cream into said measuring cup.
For this particular recipe… you need half of a 3/4 C. I have no idea what that equals… but here’s what it looks like. (So basically, it is slightly less than half a cup.)
Throw that into the microwave and keep and eye on it. You want the cream heated to the point of steaming, but not ferociously bubbling over. It’s a fine balance.
When the cream is hot, dump in the 4 oz. of chopped chocolate (or chips.)
Let them sit and soften for a minute in the cream, then start stirring. In no time, you’ll have a rich smooth chocolate ganache.
At this point, you’ll need to work quickly because ganache hardens. Add 1/2 tsp. of vanilla to the ganache, stirring to combine. (I’m terrible about not measuring my vanilla. I figure it can’t hurt the dish much if I’m generous with it.)
As you can see, my assistant really went above and beyond helping out with the ganache. She wanted every detail of her dad’s birthday cake to be just right! Don’t know what I’d have done without her.
Ok, start dribbling the ganache over the cake with reckless abandon. It takes this humble-looking bundt cake to top-tier-dessert status in mere moments. Ganache just looks so decadent!
Calorie-free this cake is not. But worth every bite… oh yes it is! That tunnel of fudge in the middle is especially to-die-for. No one’s expecting it either, so this cake always get rave reviews.
I’ll also point out that this cake is great for serving to slightly picky people. (Like my husband! To quote “When Harry Met Sally”… Chris is the worst kind. He’s high maintenance but he thinks he’s low maintenance. Yes, he thinks he’s Mr. Adventurous when it comes to food… but trying to select a birthday dessert for him is actually quite difficult. He likes chocolate. NOT mint chocolate, NOT chocolate with raspberries. Citrus desserts are out of the question. He’ll pass on the cheesecake. Carrot cake? Absurd. Am I leaving out any dislikes? Probably.) My point is… here is a dessert that is both delicious and purely unadulterated chocolate.
Make it as soon as possible. That’s an order And feel free to share your success stories here in the Comments section. I’m confident this cake will be a hit in your household!
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