chocolate-cake-resized-My friend, Liz, gave me a fabulous cookbook for Christmas this year: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Everything I’ve made from it has been exemplary. This includes tastiness such as Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Double-Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread.

So today is Liz’s birthday and I made her the Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. The other recipes I’ve tried from this book have been kind of homey (in a good way), but this is a little more fancypants, so I was excited to give it a go.

The cake is fantastic. It kind of tastes like a brownie. As for the frosting, I’m not used to working with buttercream and it took a little while to come together, which freaked me out a little. I had to put it in the fridge for a bit to get it to firm up properly, but in the end it worked out well and there was just the right amount of frosting for the cake.

Basically there are three main components: (1) the actual chocolate cake layers, (2) the Coffee Buttercream and (3) the chocolate ganache glaze.

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For the Cake:

3/4 C dark unsweetened cocoa powder (not hot cocoa!)
2/3 C sour cream
2 2/3 C flour
2 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into 1-inch cubes, softened)
1/2 C vegetable shortening
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 C brown sugar
3 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

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For the Coffee Buttercream:

1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/3 C flour
1 1/2 C whole milk
1/3 C heavy cream
1 1/2 C (3 sticks) unsalted butter (soft and cut into small pieces)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp coffee extract

You might notice that there actually isn’t coffee extract in the picture. That’s because neither Kroger nor I had coffee extract. So I made a strong cup of coffee and then reduced it by about half. I think it worked alright. The frosting doesn’t scream coffee, but there’s a nice subtle aftertaste that I quite like.

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Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

8 oz good quality dark chocolate (60 – 72%), coarsely chopped
3/4 C (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter (softened, in 1/2 pieces)
1 tbsp light corn syrup

Instructions:

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and prep 3  8-inch round pans with butter, parchment paper and flour.

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Heat 1 1/4 C of water and mix a little water in a bowl with the cocoa powder. Then add the remaining water and the and sour cream. Mix and set aside.  In a second bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

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Bring out the stand mixer if you have one and use the paddle (this recipe only uses the paddle, so you can put the whisk attachment away). Beat butter and shortening together on medium for about five minutes or until “light and fluffy.”

 

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Add both sugars and beat about 5 more minutes (light and fluffy). Add eggs one at a time. Turn speed to low and add vanilla.

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Beginning and ending with the dry bowl, alternate adding the dry and cocoa mixes to the mixer bowl. Scrape the bowl to make sure it’s completely mixed then pour batter into the pans and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 – 45 minutes then turn out and toss the parchment paper.

 

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Whisk sugar and flour together in a sauce pan. Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it boils and thickens (approx. 10 – 15 minutes). Pour into a mixer bowl and beat on high until cool (approx 7 – 9 minutes).  On low, add butter and mix. On medium/high, beat until the frosting is, yep, you got it, light and fluffy. Add vanilla and coffee extracts and mix.

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As part of my campaign to cool down the frosting to help the texture, I packed frozen veggies underneath the KitchenAid bowl.

Assembly:

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Level off cake layers (I’m really bad at this. I always take too much off and them i’m still lopsided…). Frost the tops of the bottom and middle layers.

 

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Add the third layer, cut side down, and spread a “crumb layer” (a thin layer of frosting to lock in the crumbs) over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes then frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

 

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Put all three ganache ingredients in the top of a double boiler and stir until chocolate and butter have melted together. Remove pan from stove and stir to cool it a little. So, as you can tell from the picture, I don’t actually have a double boiler. That and a cake platter are two items missing from my kitchen stash. So I put chocolate etc in a glass bowl over a pot with water in it. This is neither an endorsement of this method nor a recommendation. I’m sure there are ridiculous safety hazards associated with this method so consider yourself warned and me not legally liable for anything you may choose to do on your own.

Important tip: don’t get any water in the melting chocolate. If water gets in there it seizes up and you end up with weird chunkiness. yuck.

Glazing the Cake:

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put a wire cooling rack on top. Place cake on the wire rack and pour approx. 3/4 cup of glaze on top of the cake. Spread it out to the edge and then refrigerate for 5 minutes. (I also grated some chocolate and pushed it up against the bottom of the cake. Cause why not add more chocolate?)

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Drizzle the remaining glaze, letting it dribble down the sides.  Chill cake for 20 minutes and serve at room temperature. (it’s surprisingly hard to pour and take a picture at the same time.)

Et voila! Happy Birthday Liz!


Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
 
From The Baked Bakery's "Coffee" Cake.
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • Cake:
  • ¾ C dark unsweetened cocoa powder (not hot cocoa!)
  • ⅔ C sour cream
  • 2⅔ C flour
  • 2 tsp baking power
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ C (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into 1-inch cubes, softened)
  • ½ C vegetable shortening
  • 1½ C granulated sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
  • Coffee Buttercream:
  • 1½ C granulated sugar
  • ⅓ C flour
  • 1½ C whole milk
  • ⅓ C heavy cream
  • 1½ C (3 sticks) unsalted butter (soft and cut into small pieces)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp coffee extract or 1 C coffee, reduced by half
  • Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
  • 8 oz good quality dark chocolate (60 - 72%), coarsely chopped
  • ¾ C (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter (softened, in ½ pieces)
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and prep 3 8-inch round pans with butter, parchment paper and flour.
  2. Heat 1¼ C of water and mix a little water in a bowl with the cocoa powder. Then add the remaining water and the and sour cream. Mix and set aside. In a second bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. Bring out the stand mixer if you have one and use the paddle. Beat butter and shortening together on medium for about five minutes or until "light and fluffy."
  4. Add both sugars and beat about 5 more minutes (light and fluffy). Add eggs one at a time. Turn speed to low and add vanilla.
  5. Beginning and ending with the dry bowl, alternate adding the dry and cocoa mixes to the mixer bowl. Scrape the bowl to make sure it's completely mixed then pour batter into the pans and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 - 45 minutes then turn out and toss the parchment paper.
  6. Whisk sugar and flour together in a sauce pan. Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it boils and thickens (approx. 10 - 15 minutes). Pour into a mixer bowl and beat on high until cool (approx 7 - 9 minutes). On low, add butter and mix. On medium/high, beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add vanilla and coffee extracts and mix.
  7. Assembly:
  8. Level off cake layers (I'm really bad at this. Frost the tops of the bottom and middle layers.
  9. Add the third layer, cut side down, and spread a "crumb layer" (a thin layer of frosting to lock in the crumbs) over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes then frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
  10. Put all three ganache ingredients in the top of a double boiler and stir until chocolate and butter have melted together. Remove pan from stove and stir to cool it a little. So, as you can tell from the picture, I don't actually have a double boiler. That and a cake platter are two items missing from my kitchen stash. So I put chocolate etc in a glass bowl over a pot with water in it. This is neither an endorsement of this method nor a recommendation. I'm sure there are ridiculous safety hazards associated with this method so consider yourself warned and me not legally liable for anything you may choose to do on your own.
  11. Important tip: don't get any water in the melting chocolate. If water gets in there it seizes up and you end up with weird chunkiness.
  12. Glazing the Cake:
  13. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put a wire cooling rack on top. Place cake on the wire rack and pour approx. ¾ cup of glaze on top of the cake. Spread it out to the edge and then refrigerate for 5 minutes.
  14. Drizzle the remaining glaze, letting it dribble down the sides. Chill cake for 20 minutes and serve at room temperature.
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Song of the Dish: Stuck Like Glue by Sugarland.
If you’ve ever worked with cooked buttercream you know what I mean.