Usually when I bake, I make sugar cookies or almond pastries. Lately, though, everything I've been baking has been chocolate. Maybe it's because nearly every show on Food Network is about chocolate in honor of Valentines Day. Or maybe it's just because I'm in the Valentines spirit. Either way, all I can think about is chocolate chocolate chocolate. So when I came up with the idea for my latest cake, I got to baking as fast as I could- I couldn't wait to see how it turned out. I've never been huge on extremely sweet cake. I think the sugary frosting found on many cakes can over power the taste of the actual cake, and therefore make it a chore to finish the whole piece! So what I had in mind when I designed this cake, was a tame, moist chocolate cake, with a semi-sweet espresso whipped ganache filling, and the sweetness would come from the buttercream frosting.
This cake is a bit time consuming, but definitely worth it! Everyone who tried it loved it and came back for more. When storing the cake, make sure to keep it refrigerated and covered. And I promise there will be some healthy recipes after this one! I'm listing all of the ingredients first, and then the steps for each part. You may want to make the ganache before you make the cakes, or while they are in the oven. Make the frosting right before icing the cake. Have fun and enjoy!
What you'll need for...
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 1-ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 cups MINUS 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups icy cold water
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350, and grease and flour 3 round cake pans.
1. In a mixer, cream butter. Gradually add sugar and cream together.
2. Mix in vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating after each.
3. Melt the unsweetened chocolate, and cool completely.
4. Blend in the chocolate until totally combined.
5. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and espresso powder.
6. To the chocolate mixture, add the dry ingredients alternately with the cold water, beating after each addition. 7. Evenly distribute the batter between the three floured cake pans.
8. Smooth the tops of the cakes with a spatula and tap the pans on the counter to release trapped air.
9. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
10. Cool the cakes completely before removing them from the pans.
To make the ganache:
1. In a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water, gently heat the chocolate.
2. Meanwhile, over low heat, heat the whipping cream. Bring it to a simmer, and remove from heat.
3. Once the chocolate is melted, add the cream a little at a time, combining with a spatula between each addition. (If the chocolate seizes, or hardens, the cream was not hot enough. Add a bit of vegetable shortening and stir until melted again. Reheat the cream until it is hotter.)
4. Once the chocolate and cream is combined and smooth, whisk in espresso powder and vanilla.
5. Next, whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth.
6. Remove from heat, and let cool thoroughly.
7. Once cooled, cover and place in the refrigerator. (If ganache has solidified after being in the refrigerator, let it sit out for a few minutes to soften before you use it.)
To make the frosting:
1. Cream together butter and vanilla until fluffy.
2. Slowly add powdered sugar, combining thoroughly between each addition.
3. Once all the sugar is added and the frosting looks like a dough, slowly add in whipping cream.
4. Beat for 3 minutes, cover and refrigerator until needed. (If you are frosting the cake right away, do not refrigerator. If you are using it out of the fridge, let it soften for 10 minutes first.)
To assemble the cake:
1. After the cakes have cooled completely, remove them from the pans.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut the top off each cake to make a level top.
3. Cut all the way around each cake to take off any crispy edges.
4. Using an electric mixer, whip the cooled (but not hard) ganache until it is a frosting consistency.
5. Line a cake stand or plate with small pieces of wax or parchment paper around the edges.
6. Place 1 cake on top of the paper pieces.
7. Spread half of the ganache on the top of the cake, making sure it is even.
8. Place another cake on top to form the second layer.
9. Evenly frost the top with the remaining ganache.10. Place the last cake on top.
11. Spoon about 1/4 of the frosting into a bowl, and lightly frost the entire cake. This is the crumb coat
12. Refrigerate the cake for 10-20 minutes, until the frosting is set.
13. Using the remaining frosting, frost the rest of the cake, spreading very evenly and smoothly.
14. Pull out the wax paper pieces for a clean cake stand or plate!
If there is any remaining ganache, you may put it into a decorating bag and pipe the top of the cake to decorate. You may also sift cocoa powder or espresso powder over the cake.
Make sure to keep the cake refrigerated and covered. And most of all, enjoy!!