Cake: Chocolate and Chartreuse


Almost every year for Christmas, without exception, I make a chocolate cake  heavily doused with Chartreuse, that wonderful liqueur made in France by the Chartreux monks. The recipe is one I found in In Madeleine’s Kitchen by Madeleine Kamman, page 52.  It is actually a charlotte of sorts and does not have cake like layers but is made predominately with a chocolate mousse that sets up to a very dense but silky consistency. As it would happen last year proved to be one of those rare exceptions. Due to the amount of travel we engaged in during both Christmas and New Years there was simply no time to make the traditional Christmas Cake.  So one month later and a new year, I took this as an opportunity to break with tradition a bit by creating a new recipe that still takes advantage of the great combination of chocolate and Chartreuse. The inspiration here comes from a recipe from Daniel My French Cuisine by Daniel Boulud.  In Daniel’s recipe it is a real chocolate layered cake or bombe with a chocolate ganache frosting decorated with chocolate shavings. His recipe calls for a chocolate syrup that moistens each of the layers of the cake. In this version I have replaced  the syrup  with the Chartreuse to moisten the layers recapturing the combination of chocolate and Chartreuse. Daniel’s recipe uses a classic genoise style cake but here I have made it with a traditional chocolate cake baked in a 3 quart stainless steel bowl for a nod to Daniel’s original recipe, Cocoa-Dusted Dark Chocolate Bombe.  I my version I have used only the ganache as the frosting.

Chocolate Cake Recipe

• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli 100% Pure Cocoa Powder recommended
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water
• Chartreuse (about ½ cup)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 3 quart stainless steel bowl.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared bowl.

Ready To Bake

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. When cake is cool enough to handle slice into three equal layers.
5. Use a pastry brush to soak both sides of the bottom two layers with the Chartreuse.

6. Frost the bottom two layers with enough ganache to equal the thickness of the individual layers.

7. Stack the layers back together and frost the cake.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 ¼ cups sugar
12 oz. unsweetened baker’s chocolate chopped, Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened cocoa bar recommended


1. In a medium saucepan heat the heavy cream and the sugar an allow to simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Chop the chocolate into medium to small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
3. Pour the heated cream/sugar combination over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for one minute.
4. Stir to blend the melted chocolate with the cream until smooth and transfer to a shallow baking dish. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and allow to cool at room temperature.