As I write this, I’m glued to the live blogs and twitter feeds of the happenings in the Boston area, truly thankful for the brave men and women who searched tirelessly for the suspects in the horrific Boston Marathon bombings. My thoughts have been sent back east all week, occupying much of my school day, and my concern for my friends has been consuming. I’m hoping for some calm, some justice, and some good news in days to come.
While I can’t give you any real good news, I can give you chocolate cake. Chocolate cake makes everything better, right?
This is some serious chocolate cake. I have quite an affinity for all things chocolate, in case you haven’t noticed. Partially, I know that this is because chocolate is simply delicious. Partially though, I think it stems from a childhood allergy/hypersensitivity to caffeine.
See, I used to be a slight little thing. Tiny. Petite. Graduated 8th grade at 4’9″ and weighing about 75 pounds. This meant that certain things affected me differently than other people. Caffeine for one. The caffeine in a chocolate chip cookie would have me bouncing off the walls. God forbid I ever drank regular soda… and so, when I *ahem* outgrew the allergy, chocolate was top on my list.
Chocolate makes everything better. Bad mood? Chocolate. Good mood? Chocolate! Celebrating? CHOCOLATE!
This is a celebration cake. My friend Rick, with whom I went to Frontera Grill over spring break (as well as a few others) turns 40 today, and in the spirit of all things fun, the group of us planned a bit of a surprise.
His desk was saran-wrapped with confetti and streamers. The band room chairs were flipped to the opposite side of the room. A plethora of balloons filled the office and rehearsal space. And I made cake.
That wasn’t enough though. I found this adorable Happy Birthday cake decoration printable and had to use it.
So let’s talk cake. The cake itself was from a recipe I found on My Baking Addiction. The only change I made to the recipe was to use canola instead of vegetable oil, and I couldn’t find the super-dark cocoa powder, so I just upped the regular. The addition of coffee to the mixture made for a complex flavor with just a hint of “is that mocha?” in every bite.
The filling was simple: chocolate ganache. Typically, ganache is equal volumes of cream and chocolate, heated and melted together, and then mixed with a touch of butter. I upped that “touch” of butter and made the ganache more spreadable.
The frosting? Oh the frosting… You all know my love for Italian meringue buttercream. It’s perfectly spreadable, not grainy at all, and lightly sweet. Add some melted semi-sweet chocolate to that, and a bit of cocoa powder and it’s heaven on a spoon cake.
And let’s examine these layers, shall we? First of all, this is only my third ever full-sized layer cake, and my second successful one. I’m pretty proud of myself. So the layers went like this from the bottom up:
- mostly ganache, some buttercream
- some ganache, mostly buttercream
- lots and lots of sprinkles
This layering effect looked really cool once it was cut, and it also sort of limited the insane richness of the ganache. Ok, who am I kidding. It did no such thing, but let’s think it did, ok? We joked all day that the cake alone could cause diabetic shock in a non-diabetic.
We can just file this one under “you wish you worked with me” and call it a day. Happy birthday Rick! I hope you’re enjoying every minute of your day!
Super-Duper Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert chocolate birthday cake
Ingredients (10 slices)
For the cake, adapted from My Baking Addiction
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup strong black coffee
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the ganache filling
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons butter
For the frosting
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups white sugar, divided
- 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 sticks butter (yes, really)
- 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- candy thermometer
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray with flour (I use Baker’s Secret)
Place sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Mix on low speed until well-combined.
Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined, about two minutes. The batter is very thin, don’t be surprised!
Pour evenly into the cake pans, and lightly tap the pans on the counter to release bubbles.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Allow to cool 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
When cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for easier layer cutting.
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
Heat the cream until near boiling (don’t turn your back!) and then pour the cream over the chocolate, then let it sit about 2 minutes.
Whisk until completely smooth, then stir in the butter.
Place in the refrigerator to cool and thicken.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer, making sure that the bowl has no traces of grease, oil, schmutz, or anything else.
Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment, again making sure that it’s completely clean.
Beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar.
Whisk until soft peaks form, and then gradually add one cup of sugar.
Whisk until stiff peaks form. Leave the bowl and mixer at the ready.
Mix together, in a medium sauce pan, the remaining sugar, corn syrup, and water.
Heat over medium heat until liquid, then place the candy thermometer in the mixture.
Cook until the temperature reaches 238°F, about 15 minutes.
Turn the mixer back on and pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Beat continuously on high speed until room temperature.
Switch to the paddle attachment.
At medium-high speed, mix in the butter one tablespoon at a time. The mixture will fall apart and look disgusting for a while, but never fear, it will come back together!
Once all the butter is incorporated, add the cocoa powder and melted chocolate, and then the vanilla.
Slice the cake layers in half.
Place one layer on a plate or cardboard cake round.
Spread about a third of the ganache on the cake layer. Top with a second layer. Continue until ganache is gone, and ending with a cake layer.
Frost generously with the buttercream.