I doubled the cocoa in the cake, added a small amount of coffee grounds to the buttermilk, and included a splash more buttermilk in the batter to compensate for the extra dry ingredients. I made a half recipe and baked it in an 8x8 Pyrex dish for @42 minutes. For the frosting, I nearly doubled the cocoa, added @2 oz. melted semisweet chocolate, and beat in 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream to smooth out the consistency (it was looking rough).
Normally I go for deep chocolate in cakes. This was a very nice lighter offering. I really enjoyed the coconut and pecans in the cake, plus the pecans in the frosting. It had a great medium-sized, moist crumb. I think this is the first cake I've made that used shortening and whipped egg whites. Wondering how much these two things had to do with how well this cake came together.
This is the second cake I've tried with chocolate cream cheese frosting, and I can now say with certainty that it isn't for me. I like chocolate cheesecake, but not mixed with butter and spread on my chocolate cake.
I would make this again, probably with a different icing (or maybe even without). It's a sophisticated enough cake that I might consider making it for special events.
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I doubled the cocoa in the cake, added a small amount of coffee grounds to the buttermilk, and...