I’m kicking myself for not taking more pictures of the Tunnel of Fudge Cake. When I saw the page and the picture, I thought, “Eh, it’s just a chocolate cake.”
Boy, was I ever wrong.
As you can see, we’ve moved steadily into the month of March, but we’ve decided to stick with Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008 for our Magazine of the Month selection. To be honest, I wasn’t even going to make this cake, but when CC said we should continue Best of ATK through March and I ended up needing to bring a dessert somewhere, I decided I would make this cake, effectively knocking out two birds with one stone.
For those of you who didn’t pay the $8 to pick up this must-have paperback booklet (go get it!), you’re in luck — I’m posting this recipe. Back in October, Serious Eats was featuring the Cook’s Country Cookbook as a giveaway, and essentially regurgitated all of the information on this cake that the book had, including the recipe. Their site says the recipe was “adapted” from the Cook’s Country Cookbook, but I don’t think adding a pinch of salt in the chocolate glaze really qualifies as adaptation. I also saw the little trick with calling for already melted chocolate in the glaze rather than putting that step into the instructions, and I’m calling shenanigans. Nice try, though.
At any rate, this is the cake that made the Bundt pan famous. Back then, the lady who came up with the recipe used an ingredient that is no longer being produced. Many new versions of the recipe have emerged in an attempt to recreate the cake, but the Test Kitchen wasn’t happy with any of them. So, they went to work on making a definitive version that really emphasized chocolate. When they were finished, they had succeeded beyond expectation.
The “tunnel” comes from a gooey fudge center that actually looks like a tunnel within the cake. According to the notes from the Test Kitchen, the fudge layer actually separates from the rest of the cake.
Here’s a close up — hopefully you can see the gooey portion in the bottom/bottom-left of the cake.
Tunnel of Fudge Cake, sans glaze
Yes, my friends, that darker colored goop down there isn’t unbaked cake batter: It’s ooey, gooey, oh so rich and delicious fudge.
This cake is the chocolate lover’s dream. Finely ground nuts contribute to a fuller bodied cake and a much needed textural and taste contrast for the chocolate. The fudge center plus the chocolate glaze makes this cake over the top. I couldn’t get through half of my piece without reaching for an ice cold glass of milk. The party I took it to raved about it and ate the whole thing. Some of the guests even had seconds.
Making it was surprisingly simple and did not take a great deal of time. Granted, it did force me to do something I hate doing, and that is prep all three mixtures in separate bowls prior to combining them. I hate dirtying so many dishes but in this case it’s necessary as the cake batter is only just combined.
When the cake has finished its cooking time, you’ll notice it’s done because the edges pull away from the sides — the center of the ring will have collapsed slightly, as that’s the gooey, fudge part of the cake, and won’t rise.
Tunnel of Fudge Cake
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pan
1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
For the glaze:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
Adjust an over rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Whisk the cocoa, flour, nuts, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Beat eggs and vanilla in a large measuring cup.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, add the egg mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the batter and bake until the edges are beginning to pull away from the pan, about 45 minutes. Cool upright in the pan on a wire rack for 1 1/2 hours, then invert onto a serving plate and cool completely.
For the glaze:
Cook the cream, corn syrup and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and set aside until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set for at least 10 minutes. Serve.