Kladdkaka, also known as chocolate sticky cake, is the perfect cake for Valentine’s Day, or any day
With its soft and gooey center surrounded by a crisp exterior, kladdkaka is the perfect cross between a brownie and a molten lava cake.
FARGO — With Valentine’s Day on the near horizon, I invite chocolate lovers everywhere to celebrate in style with this decadent, easy and delicious kladdkaka, also known as Scandinavian chocolate sticky cake.
This cake gets its name from the Swedish word “kladdig,” which means sticky or messy, and kladdkaka in English literally means “sticky cake.” With its soft and gooey center surrounded by a crisp exterior, kladdkaka is the perfect cross between a brownie and a molten lava cake. Its origins are unclear, but most sources suggest that kladdkaka crashed onto the Swedish cake scene sometime in the mid-1970s and it has been a popular treat ever since.
Like many Scandinavian specialties, this cake has a specially molded pan with scalloped edges and a raised edge that create a decorative and elegant presentation. The kladdkaka pan is made with non-stick carbon steel for easy removal, and I use a baking spray with flour to ensure the cake pops right out.
You can find kladdkaka pans at Stabo Scandinavian Imports in downtown Fargo for about $15. I discovered this pan there during a holiday shopping trip last December, and after my success with their Scandinavian almond cake pan last fall, I knew I had to add it to my collection.
Just like the almond cake pan, the kladdkaka pan from Stabo comes with its own recipe and it is the one I am sharing here today. After I purchased the pan, I did some research on kladdkaka and found a variety of recipes online. Some called for cocoa powder while others required melted chocolate, but every single recipe used melted butter. Except for the one from Stabo, which calls for softened butter.
Intrigued by this anomaly, I decided to conduct a test and make two cakes: one with the Stabo pan’s recipe using softened butter, and the other with a similar recipe using melted butter. I then had my family and a few friends taste each one and vote for their favorite, and the unanimous winner was the recipe from Stabo.
The Stabo recipe has great structure with delightfully contrasting textures. The melted butter version was flatter and mostly gooey with little to no crunch – more like a dense, fudgy brownie than a cake. While both versions tasted great, the cake made with softened butter was superior in every way.
Aside from the tried and tested recipe, the specialty pan is worth the investment all on its own. Kladdkaka is a humble cake, made with seven common baking ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder and flour. There is not even any leavening agent to make the cake rise, like baking powder or soda, so this cake is somewhat flat. While you could use a basic, eight-inch round cake pan to make kladdkaka, the molded pan transforms this simple recipe into a dazzling and elegant chocolate cake fit for any occasion.
Rich and full of marvelous chocolatey flavor, kladdkaka is easy to make and the perfect chocolate cake for Valentine’s Day, or any day. Skol!
Kladdkaka (Scandinavian chocolate sticky cake)
Serves: 6 to 8
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated white sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position rack in the lower third of the oven. Use a flour-based cooking spray (like Baker’s Joy or Pam with Flour) to liberally grease an 8-inch kladdkaka pan or round cake pan, coating the bottom and sides.
Use a stand or handheld mixer to beat the butter on medium-high speed until very soft and peaks form, about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add the sugar, sifted cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again and add the eggs. Beat on medium speed until smooth and fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the flour and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan – it will be very thick. Use the back of the spoon or a spatula to evenly spread the batter into the pan and smooth the surface.
Bake the cake on the lower oven rack until the center starts to crack and puff up, about 25 to 30 minutes. The toothpick test will not work for this recipe as the center is supposed to be thick and gooey when done. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
Use an offset spatula or knife to gently release the cake along the edges of the pan as needed. Place a plate or cake board over the top of the pan and invert it to release the cake. Let the cake cool completely before serving.
Dust the top and sides with powdered sugar, if desired, or top with fresh berries. Serve plain or with fresh fruit, whipped cream or ice cream.
Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. To freeze, cut the cake into wedges and freeze them for 1 hour until firm and easy to handle. Wrap each wedge in plastic and place in a plastic freezer bag. Allow the cake to thaw completely at room temperature before unwrapping and serving.
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