- Nonstick spray
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups hot water
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, for grating
- Special Equipment: 2 round cake pans, 9 inches in diameter; 1 metal (preferably offset) spatula for frosting the cake; 1 instant-read thermometer
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put parchment paper in the bottom of the 2 cake pans and use nonstick spray (or a little butter) to thoroughly grease the sides and bottoms. Set aside.
Make the batter for the cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine and beat the eggs and sugar on high speed until light, fluffy and lemony-colored, 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder (sifted over the other ingredients), coffee (if using) and salt. Gently stir in the hot water, the egg/sugar mixer from the machine and whisk in the mayonnaise mixture until smooth. Mix until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour half of the cake batter into each of the prepared pans. Place the pans in the center of the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Test the cakes to make sure they are cooked in the center. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Make the frosting: Make a stovetop water bath by placing a large (somewhat deep) skillet half-filled with water on the stove. Heat the water until it simmers, and then shut it off.
Meanwhile, put the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, 5 tablespoons water and corn syrup in a clean metal bowl. Whisk to blend. Place the bowl in the water bath and (with the heat off) whisk the whites by hand or with an electric hand mixer until they fluff up and reach a temperature of 140 degrees F. Whisking the whites constantly is important so just test the temperature of the whites from time to time with the thermometer. Holding a thermometer and whisking at the same time can be difficult. When the whites reach 140 degrees F, remove the bowl from the water bath. Stir in the vanilla extract and whisk for 1 to 2 additional minutes to cool it off a little. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to frost the cake.
Assemble the cake: Gently turn the cake rounds out onto a flat surface. Finely grate some chocolate onto the first layer of the cake. Then, use about one-third of the total frosting on top of the first layer, letting some of it spill over the top to coat the sides. Place the other layer squarely on top of the first and use the remaining frosting to coat the top and sides of the cake. Grate more chocolate over the cake. This chocolate will create a nice little texture to compliment the soft cake.