1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package instant pudding (cheesecake flavor)
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup strong coffee (any flavor)
Mini-chocolate chips to taste
1 package Cool Whip
1 bar semi-sweet chocolate squares
1 package dark chocolate frosting
1 package milk chocolate frosting
2 tubes dark chocolate "brownie" frosting
Combine your cake mix and cheesecake pudding in a bowl -- you can use chocolate pudding mix if you like, but the cheesecake pudding adds an extra punch of flavor.
I used Betty Crocker's Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix, but you can use pretty much any under the sun, as long as it's a standard 18.25-oz. box.
Add the eggs, oil, and coffee; mix well. The trick here is making sure your coffee is brewed strong -- you shouldn't be able to see through it. You can use a French press if you have one of those sitting around -- I just used a coffee maker -- very little water, and a heck of a lot of coffee grounds. Experiment with different-flavored coffee if you want, or just use plain old coffee for imparting a rich, mocha flavor to your cake.
Once your batter is mixed, stir in the chocolate chips. The cake mix I used came with chips in the batter -- this does not matter. Add more chips, about a half a cup or so, more if you feel like it. There is really no such thing as too much chocolate where this recipe is concerned!
Split the cake mix between two greased 9" round cake pans; make sure the mix is split evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
Remove the cakes from the oven and set them on wire racks to cool before trying to remove them from the pan. You don't want them splitting!
The easiest way to remove the cake is to first run a flat spatula around the outer edge of the cake -- just to separate any possible chocolate sticking -- and then set a wire rack on top of the pan. Flip the whole thing over, and shake gently.
Your cake should fall right out of the pan with little effort. Do the same for the other cake -- again, be careful!
This is important: Leave both cakes out to cool completely -- I'm talking no warmth to the center of the cake at all.
What, you thought we were going to decorate right now? Nope! Put each cake in a freezer bag and stick it in the freezer overnight. This will help firm up the cake and make it easier to frost.
I used three different kinds of frosting for this particular cake. Spread dark chocolate frosting (not the whipped variety) in between the cake layers, then smooth it around the edges of the cake. To be perfectly honest, I found the easiest method for getting straight edges was using nothing more than a plain old butter knife to spread the frosting.
Once you're done with that, spread milk chocolate frosting (you can use the whipped variety here if you like) on the top of the cake, making sure it's smooth. Again, butter knife is your best friend here!
I used two tubes of dark chocolate "brownie frosting" for the edges. The tubes are great because they come in a package that you can use for edging; however, I put the frosting in a traditional pastry bag with a shell tip at the end.
If you don't have the fancy stuff like piping bags and tips, don't worry -- you can still pipe the dark frosting around the edges of the cake with the tip provided on the frosting tube. The results won't be quite as fancy, but hey, who cares?
Now comes the fun part! Ganache is generally heralded as being terrible difficult to make. This particular ganache however, is dead easy. Take about 6 tablespoons Cool Whip and 2 chocolate squares (1 oz. of chocolate), and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave them for 30 seconds in an 1100-watt microwave; you may need to adjust your times for different wattage.
Watch the bowl closely, you don't want your chocolate to scorch! Take the melted mix from the microwave and stir vigorously. If there is unmelted chocolate in the mix, put it in for another 5-10 seconds, and stir again. The chocolate and Cool Whip should be mixed completely together.
Let it cool for a good minute or so, continue stirring it as it cools. You don't want to drizzle hot ganache on the top of your cake, it'll melt your frosting -- let it cool a little bit before you drizzle. The ganache will thicken as it cools, so make sure you drizzle quick!
The finished cake -- you don't really need to make your ganache drizzle in any particular pattern, but I like doing a faux cross-hatch pattern just for looks. If you want to, you can make a double batch of the ganache and put it between layers; it's not necessary, though. Make sure you store the cake in a cool room if you aren't going to eat it immediately -- you don't want that frosting to melt!
You can use the cake for any kind of celebration, whether it be a birthday or simply an "I really want some chocolate" kind of day! The result is a rich, dense, triple-chocolate mocha explosion -- small pieces are recommended. Enjoy!