My family has a 4th of July tradition wherein we always go to my Aunt Diane’s house in New Jersey, eat tons of food, and come home completely stuffed. I would be lying if I said that this year was any different. There was grilled pizza, spinach and artichoke dip, buffalo chicken dip, homemade zeppoles, deep fried turkey, potato salad, grilled veggies, a red white and blue cheesecake, Italian wedding cookies (or rainbow cookes as I like to call them), rice pudding, and my contribution – the chocolate agave cake with honey cream cheese frosting. You see, when my aunt called a few weeks ago and my mom asked her what we could bring, she vaguely mentioned dessert and I jumped in saying, “I’ll bake something”. Did I think about the fact that I would be moving two days before? No. So there I found myself in my new apartment on Friday morning baking a cake. My roommate must have thought I was insane. I probably am.
Now normally I am totally a vanilla cake person. I like chocolate. But I like vanilla more. However, since all of the other desserts were vanilla-esque, I thought chocolate would be a nice variation. I saw this recipe on Baking Bites and instantly knew it would be the perfect way to use up some agave nectar that I had. And we all know I can’t resist cream cheese frosting. My only complaint about it was that it was a little dense. If any tried and true bakers out there have any idea why, I will be all ears.
And for the record, my internet is still not working. I am currently sitting in the library here, mooching off the wireless. It’s really only fair. I have spent the past few nights hanging out with my MD/PhD friends though (Josh and Josh and Sophie) and we have had so much fun. It’s going to be a good eight years. I can tell.
2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup almond milk
8 oz neufchatel
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp honey
1/4 cup milk
2-3 cups confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line them with circles of greased parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by agave syrup and vanilla extract.
Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the milk, before stirring in the remaining flour mixture. Mix only until just combined. Divide evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry or with some moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake.
Turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely.
Cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for a day or so if you don’t want to assemble the cake right away.
For the frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat at high speed until smooth, gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar until a thick and spreadable consistency is reached. More milk can be added to thin the icing, if necessary.
Level the cake layers and place one on a serving tray or cake stand. Top with 1/2 of the frosting and spread into an even layer.
Place second cake layer on top of the first and top with remaining frosting, spreading into a nice thick, even layer.