Valentine’s Day is one of my favourite holidays (after, in order, Halloween and New Year’s Eve) because it involves one of my favourite foods (chocolate) and one of my favourite… shapes? (Hearts, duh!). Even during the (many) years of being single on Valentine’s Day, it always seemed like a good chance to eat some sweets, remind the people that I love how much I love them, and fill myself with fresh flowers.
Being married with an anniversary less than a month after Valentine’s Day means that it’s not quite as big of a deal as it used to be, but it’s still a fun holiday to celebrate and I couldn’t let it pass without making a chocolate date cake in honour of all the dates going on this weekend. (Get it!? Dates?!) Judson and I will be celebrating elsewhere, but we'll still be out on a date on Sunday night, and with any luck, we'll be enjoying a dessert as tasty as this one-- because, seriously, this cake is amazing.
I don't know why I doubted this dessert (yes I do: I love dates but I always doubt dates in dessert), because seriously: the last date dessert I made (as part of the infamous Holiday Almanac) was one of my favourite dishes of the month of December. But seriously, this chocolate cake is amazing. The layers are fairly slim, the buttercream frosting is super easy and unbelievably tasty, and the toasty pecans add just the right amount of crunch. But the dates. The dates are the star of this cake-- the filling isn't overly fruity, but the dates add so much moisture that the whole rest of the cake is just perfectly buttery, moist and chocolate-y without being overpoweringly sweet.
And now that I’ve finished making all of the cheesecakes in the box, I've moved on to chocolate cakes (of which I also have a ton) and even though this recipe kind of involves three mini-recipes (cake, filling, frosting), I regret nothing. It was delicious, far more reliable than the cheesecakes ever were, and my co-workers ate the entire thing in record time.
5 spoons out of five. Make this cake and your Valentine will be très impressed.
Chocolate Cake with Date Filling
Preheat oven to 175C/350F, then line three round cake pans with parchment.
Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.
Add eggs and beat well.
Blend in chocolate.
Sift together dry ingredients, then add to chocolate mixture alternately with water.
Beat until smooth.
Pour into prepared pans and cook 20-30 minutes until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool complete before filling and frosting.
Over very low heat, heat milk and dates until very warm.
In a separate bowl, mix sugar, flour, and salt, then add the beaten egg.
Remove milk mixture from heat, then stir sugar mixture into the milk mixture very slowly while whisking constantly so the eggs don't cook.
Return to very low heat, then cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Once mixture has thickened, stir in nuts and vanilla.
Allow to cool completely before filling cake.
Beat butter, salt, and 1 c powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
Blend in melted chocolate, then add remaining sugar, alternating with milk and vanilla.
Mix until smooth and creamy-- do not overmix.
If frosting is too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more powdered sugar until spreading consistency is reached.
¾ c butter, softened
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz baking chocolate, melted and cooled
3 c cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ c water
1 c milk
¾ c dates, chopped
¼ c sugar
1 tbsp flour
¼ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
½ c pecans, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c butter
1/8 tsp salt
3 c powdered sugar, sifted
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
¼ c milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla