This post should be labeled the very best chocolate cake in the entire world. Or cake that will change your life. Or cake that will single-handedly cure seasonal depression and a very crummy day. And perhaps, cake that will destroy your diet. I don’t fall victim to sweets all that often, but serious chocolate is a true weakness of mine. I’ve been working on a variety of dark chocolate cake and frosting recipes this year, but hadn’t found the one to bring me to my knees, yet. I saw this Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache Recipe on the Foodbuzz Top 9 in early February as featured on MyBakingAddiction.com. Chocolate + Coffee + Buttercream + Ganache = my own personal heaven.
I bookmarked the site and made a mental note to make a run to Central Market for the Instant Espresso Powder. I assume they carry that, though I generally run screaming from anything with the word “Instant” in the title. Anyhow, I keep forgetting the powder, so yesterday, I just decided to figure something from my regular grocery and make it work. I no longer have an espresso machine, it broke years ago and has yet to be replaced. The grocery only had instant coffee not instant espresso, but it did have an impressive selection of ground espressos. From my high school days working in the coffee shop, I know the two things central to espresso – the grind of the bean and the pressure. The grind of the bean is central, you want it extremely finely ground. The pressure can only be duplicated by an espresso machine. I ran mine through my regular coffee maker, since that’s what I have. If you have the means, I’d suggest making a regular cup of espresso, then adding 2 tbsp instead of the 4 tbsps of coffee strength espresso I added to the buttercream.
Today is a lucky day for my DFW area readers. If you would like one of these cakes, leave a comment in the comment section. I’ll use a random number generator – unless there’s only one or none of you of course, and I’ll deliver one of these cakes to you just for helping me. I’d like to experiment with the ganache. I have another Chocolate Ganache Cake recipe which calls for a Ganache simply of cream and chocolate, no butter. In my memory it pours much much more smoothly, and I’d like to try it on this cake. However, I’ve already laid out so many sweets recipes for our family, we’ll all roll into a sugar coma if I run all the experiments several ways. So, the only catch is, I’ll deliver your cake, minus 1 piece (for photographing and tasting) so I can check to see which ganache I prefer.
Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache
(adapted from Oprah.com)
1 and 1/2 c. sugar
1 and 1/3 c. flour
2/3 c. Valrhona unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. milk
6 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. very hot water
4 large egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
2 tbsps ground espresso
10 oz water
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 375. Grease bottom and sides of a Nonstick Half Sheet Pan (18″ x 13″ x 1″) – the original recipe called for a jelly roll pan (15 1/2″ x 10 3/4″ x 1) but I don’t have one of those, so I’d imagine you can use either with good results.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn on lowest setting and mix until combined.
In a medium sized bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Turn stand mixer to medium, then add wet ingredients gradually and mix until well blended, about 5 minutes. Change speed to low again and pour in hot water in a stream. Mix until combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool.
In bowl of stand mixer, use whisk attachment to whisk egg yolks until a full 2-3 shades lighter and ribbony when you lift the whisk, about 5 minutes. I couldn’t find a good picture on the Internet of the ribbon stage, so I’ll update with photos of what mine look like when I make the giveaway cake. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 c. of water. Cook over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until mixture starts to bubble. Raise heat to high and boil until mixture reaches 238 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. With stand mixer on medium, pour sugar syrup in a slow stream into egg yolks. Leave mixer on medium, and beat until outside of the metal bowl feels room temperature and the frosting is fluffy, about 10 minutes. In a coffee pot, brew 2tbsp of espresso with the 10 oz of water. Pour into a cup and microwave for an additional minute, to concentrate. Add butter small amounts at a time until all added. Add 4 tbsp of brewed espresso to buttercream, and beat until blended.
In a large bowl, combine chocolate and remaining 4 tbsp of butter. In a small saucepan, bring cream and sugar to a boil. Stir, then pour cream over chocolate mixture. Let rest a minute, then stir occasionally until ganache is smooth.
Invert cake onto a large wooden cutting board. Use a ruler to divide evenly into thirds, and slice accordingly. On your cake plate, cover edges with strips of waxed paper, then place bottom cake layer on waxed paper so no plate is showing. Frost first layer with half of buttercream, add next layer**, then frost with remaining buttercream. Add third layer, then gently and slowly pour ganache over the top of the cake, as evenly as you can around the sides and top of cake. Refrigerate about 20 minutes, or until ganache is firm, then gently slide the waxed paper pieces out to reveal a clean cake plate.
Note ** I had a little trouble on my first cake with the layers slipping and sliding around. If you have the time and the patience, I’d advise frosting the first layer, placing the second layer, then refrigerating cake for 10-20 minutes before frosting that layer, then again refrigerate 10-20 minutes before pouring ganache. If you do it this way, just be sure not to start your ganache until you’ve refrigerated the second layer so you it will still be liquid enough for pouring.
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