This Chocolate Pound Cake has a really deep cocoa flavor—not one of those light brown chocolate-ish cakes that I’ve been disappointed by in the past. This is my perfect pound cake: soft and plush inside, with a crackly top and a dark chocolate taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 8.5x4.5" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. (A larger loaf pan can be used, resulting in a shorter pound cake.) Cut a strip of parchment the width of the pan's bottom, and lay it along the bottom of the pan, extending up over the sides. Spray the parchment.
Sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Sift them a total of three times, to give the cake an extra fine, light texture.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream them together on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Stir together the cream and espresso powder, if you're using it. With the mixer running on low, add half of the flour to the mixing bowl, and when it's nearly incorporated, add the cream. Once the cream is mixed in, add the remaining flour, and mix until just a few flour streaks remain. Stop the mixer and finish mixing by hand, stirring with a spatula and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the grated chocolate and gently stir it in.
Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake the cake at 350 F for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. If the top seems to be getting too dark while baking, cover it with loosely tented foil.
Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife gently around the edges of the pan. Use the parchment to help you pop the cake out of the pan, and cool it completely on a wire rack. Serve slices of pound cake with whipped cream, strawberries, and/or chocolate sauce.