Chocolate cake in a jar with chocolate ganache with sprinkles and sea salt is the dessert that is kid friendly but really for grown ups. It’s laced with a little bourbon and if you don’t want to bake it in jars, makes the absolutely perfect one layer cake when that’s all you need. It doesn’t crumb, as it is rich, dense, moist, fudgy (due to the brown sugar and espresso). The bourbon added to the ganache adds even more depth to the chocolate satisfaction. Be warned, though, this cake is chocolate crack and it was never even supposed to be a post.
Did you ever have one of those dreams where you are supposed to be somewhere, but in the dream, you just can’t get there. Things keep happening; you can’t find your clothes or your keys or maybe even your car. This is how I felt trying to get a picnic post together for the monthly Creative Cooking Group. I had something completely different in my head for this that was a little less Betty Crocker and far more gourmet, but it never happened. It’s not that I didn’t try, but plans got foiled and I began to feel like I was in one of those dreams where I couldn’t get to my kitchen, because no matter what room I entered in my house, the kitchen was no where to be found. This is my default post, not nearly as creative as a former picnic post for this group… grilled watermelon with blackberry syrup and sprinkled lavender salt. But I have confidence that if you make it, you’ll make it a lot.
So what is so creative about a chocolate cake? On the surface, nothing, but in my many years of chocolate cake baking, I discovered that not all chocolate cake is alike, and more importantly there are reasons there are so many different chocolate cakes. I recently posted these adorable chocolate cupcakes that have a buttercream frosting. They are the best chocolate cupcakes I ever had, perfect for birthday parties, but not so perfect for hot weather picnics and patio parties. The cake is a light and moist and the frosting would melt. This cake is dense similar to a fudge brownie, and more hot weather friendly.
Perfect Chocolate Cake for Outdoor Eating, Picnics or Barbecues
This chocolate cake, however, is the perfect picnic cake. Once baked in jars and dolloped with ganache, the jars are put into the refrigerator. The ganache gets very dense and fudgy. If taking these to an outdoor picnic, you can pack them frozen, and they will defrost along the way. See, I’ve thought of everything. I put sprinkles on the ganache because it looks fun and festive, but for the adults you might want to add in some flaky sea salt.
This is a very adult type cake because there is whiskey in the ganache and espresso in the cake. I cut the sugar and made the cake dense, more to a grown up’s liking, although a scoop of vanilla ice cream will take you back to childhood in a very good way.
This recipe is also perfect when all you want is a one layer lake. It’s great for parties, potlucks, etc. because it doesn’t crumb up and it’s easy to pick up and eat. Serve in small squares and let people eat by hand.
You can play around with this cake. Top this cake with toasted slivered almonds, even coconut as soon as the ganache is poured for something really different. Just make sure to add your toppings while the ganache is wet. Make this chocolate cake with whiskey ganache in jars or do a one layer cake, depending on your occasion.
When baking in jars, I used wide-mouthed half-pint mason jars, which are the perfect size and very handy for pantry items too.
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ cups brown sugar
- ¾ cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- ½ cups unsalted butter
- ½ cup oil
- 1 cup water minus the liquid you use in espresso
- 4 tablespoons cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark)
- 1 shot of espresso or very strong coffee
- GANACHE FROSTING (Use the next three ingredients)
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
- 12 mason jars ½ pint wide mouth
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix flour and sugar in bowl. Set aside.
- Mix salt, baking soda, vanilla and buttermilk, eggs in bowl. Set aside.
- Boil together in sauce pan, butter, oil and cocoa and water.
- Add chocolate mixture to flour and sugar. Stir.
- Add in remaining wet ingredients. Mix.
- Bake jars at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If using mason jars, fills ⅓ full, no more than ½. This cake does not rise very high, but with a rich ganache filling you don't need a lot of this cake. You will probably have some cake batter left over, which can be baked in a smaller pan and used later. If baking in pan, I suggest a square or rectangular sheet cake so the cake can be cut into small squares for serving.
- GANACHE FROSTING (Instructions below)
- Chop chocolate into small pieces.
- Bring heavy cream to boil.
- Pour over chocolate. Let it sit unstirred for five minutes.
- Stir, staring in center and remain in center. I like to use a honey dipper for this but you can use a mini-whisk. Just stay in center, keep stirring, until all chocolate is incorporated into cream.
- Stir in vanilla, whiskey and cool.
- SPECIAL NOTE: Don't fill the mason jars all the way to the top if you plan on freezing. Leave at least 1 inch of space between cake and lid.