2 1/3 cups strong, freshly brewed, dark-roast coffee, cooled to room temperature
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cake and pastry flour, not self rising
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, in small pieces
additional unsalted butter, at room temperature for greasing the pan
16 dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, for garnish
lightly sweetened whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a 10-inch springform pan, line with a circle of parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper.
Combine the butter, chocolate and coffee in the top of double boiler, or a stainless steel or glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until melted.
Place the sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer.
Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat, and pour over the sugar. Stir to blend and dissolve the sugar, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. With a wire whisk or the paddle attachment of the electric mixer, add the Kahlua, brandy, and vanilla extract to the cooled chocolate mixture and blend well.
Blend in the lightly beaten eggs, making sure they are thoroughly incorporated. The batter at this point will be extremely thin; don't worry, just make sure to work each added ingredient into it carefully. Sift the flours, baking soda and salt together. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.
Beat on medium speed for one minute. The batter may have little lumps, but they won't affect the finished cake.
Place the prepared pan on a baking sheet to catch any leaks, and pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for 1 3/4 hours to 2 hours, rotating the pan several times during that time to ensure even baking. A crust will form on the top of the cake. Test for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer in a fault of the crust, poking near the centre of the cake. It should come out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and cool completely in the pan set on a rack. (The cake may be made up to two days ahead of time, and kept in the pan at room temperature, covered tightly with plastic wrap.
To prepare the glaze, combine the chopped chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until melted, then remove from the heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
Run a thin knife around the cake, and loosen and remove the sides of the pan.
Using a long bladed serrated knife, carefully even off the top of the cake, slicing off any domed or uneven part of the crust.
Place a dab of the chocolate glaze on a 10 inch cardboard circle, and invert the cake onto the board. Remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper.
Brush any crumbs from the cake, and pour the warm glaze onto the centre. Using a metal spatula, coax the glaze to the edges of the cake and over the sides; quickly spread the overflow evenly onto the sides. Garnish with the chocolate cover espresso beans, placing one for each piece around the perimeter of the cake.
Set the glaze an hour or so, then serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.