Mocha Cake

For New Year’s Eve Matt requested a decadent chocolate cake. I debated a couple of different frosting options (chocolate, vanilla, and even peanut butter) before deciding that the best complement would be coffee buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Thus, the mocha cake was born. I definitely need to invest in some proper cake decorating tools, but, looks notwithstanding, this cake was amazing.

IMG_1779

The chocolate cake base is an adaption of the classic Hershey’s cake. I’ve been using it for years and it never disappoints. It’s perfectly chocolatey and amazingly moist. For the buttercream, I went with an American buttercream since it is a bit less finicky than my favored Swiss meringue. I added brewed coffee to get a subtle flavor and a few drops of food coloring for color (though next time I would go without). The ganache is a classic dark chocolate ganache that was added between layers as well as the top to give it an extra boost of chocolate. And for the garnish, I tempered some chocolate and made some chocolate covered coffee beans. These are tasty on their own but do pack some serious caffeine – we learned the hard way that it’s not wise to eat them before bed!

IMG_7981

Check out the recipe below and let me know if you give it a shot!

IMG_7995

Mocha Cake

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
 

Chocolate Cake

This recipe is adapted from Hershey’s and produces three 9″ cakes.

  • 3 oz dark chocolate – I use Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, but feel free to use the chocolate of your choosing. Semi-sweet or milk chocolate will yield a sweeter cake.
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, hot 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • ½ cup canola oil 
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • ¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder – I use Ghirardelli 100% cocoa, but any cocoa powder will work
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 heaping tsp coarse kosher salt 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour cake pans.  
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Pour the hot coffee over it and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir together until smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, canola oil, eggs and vanilla. 
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low until combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, 20-30 seconds. 
  5. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the coffee/chocolate mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Give the batter a few turns by hand with a spatula to make sure everything is well incorporated. 
  6. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  1. Place chocolate in small bowl
  2. Heat cream in microwave or on stovetop until simmering – do not let boil.
  3. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir until smooth.

Note: ganache will thicken as it cools. Allow to cool to your desired consistency. For this cake, will want it to be spreadable and not overly thick.

Coffee Buttercream

  • 1.5 C butter 
  • 4-4.5 C powdered sugar, sifted 
  • 3oz brewed coffee, cooled 
  • 2 T heavy cream
  1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add butter and beat on high until light and fluffy (~5 minutes).
  2. Sift in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating for 2-3 minutes after each addition (this will help keep the icing from becoming grainy).
  3. Once all powdered sugar has been incorporated, add coffee and cream and beat on high for 5-10 minutes until smooth and fluffy.

Note: the buttercream may break and appear curdled after the addition of the liquid. This can happen because buttercream is an emulsion and we’re incorporating a lot of liquid into the fat – sometimes more than it can handle. Don’t worry! Continue to mix on high and it will come back together. This happens to me all the time and, without fail, a few additional minutes is all it takes to bring the buttercream back together.

Assembly

  1. If cakes are very domed, level-off the tops with a serrated knife.
  2. Place one cake on plate or cake stand.
  3. Spread ~1/3 cup of buttercream on the cake and drizzle 1/3 of the ganache over the top. If ganache is runny, pop in the fridge or freezer for 5 minutes to allow it to set.
  4. Place second cake on top of ganache and repeat step 3.
  5. Place third cake, top down on top and spread a thin crumb coat of buttercream on top and sides of cake.
  6. Place cake in freezer for 10-15 minutes to allow crumb coat to set.
  7. Frost cake with remaining buttercream.
  8. Drizzle remaining ganache on top and garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired.

 

2019: A Year in Cake

It’s no secret that I love to bake. With all of the ultramarathon training in 2019, it wasn’t unusual for me to bake something weekly. My standby is always and forever chocolate walnut cookies (need to share that recipe), but I found myself more drawn to cakes this past year. Without further adieu, here’s a taste of the cakes and a few other delectables that came out of our kitchen in 2019:

Girl Scout Cookie Samoa Cake – this was oh so good! A decadent cake composed of chocolate cake layers, toasted coconut caramel, chocolate ganache, and shortbread buttercream. It’s on my list to make again soon.

Chocolate strawberry cake – a classic for a reason. This cake was made of chocolate cake layers, filled with homemade strawberry preserves, strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, and topped with a dark chocolate ganache and chocolate covered strawberries.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes – a little boozy delight for St. Patrick’s Day. These yummies were made of stout chocolate cake, filled with whiskey dark chocolate ganache, and topped with an Irish Cream buttercream. These were so good I made them twice! The buttercream really stole the show.

Carrot Cake – Momofuku Milk Bar’s take on the classic. While this wasn’t our preferred carrot cake, it was a fun take on our favorite dessert. Spiced carrot cake layers were topped with liquid cheesecake, milk crumbs, and graham cracker buttercream.

Lemon poppy seed pound cake – after a couple of iterations I finally nailed down this recipe and made it more times than I can count. The cake is incredibly moist and the zing of the lemon icing takes it to a new level. Make sure to oil AND flour the pan before baking so it gets a nice rise.

Apple Pie – the classic Thanksgiving dessert. Still working on perfecting my pie crust, but this was a delicious end to a decadent meal.

Christmas cookies – nothing says Christmas like rolled out sugar cookies. These babies are the best with just a hint of almond. I love to put on a movie and zone out as I decorate them.

mocha cake – Matt requested something decadent for the new year and this did not disappoint. Chocolate cake layers sandwiched with coffee buttercream and dark chocolate ganache; topped with a ganache drizzle and chocolate covered coffee beans. Definitely a good call if you want to stay up until midnight! Recipe coming soon!

not pictured but also enjoyed: our very favorite carrot cake and blueberry streusel cake that was like a delicious blueberry icing-topped muffin in cake form.

Momofuku Milk Bar Carrot Cake

We love carrot cake. Matt regularly requests it for his birthday and we even served it at our wedding. I have a no-fail recipe, but this time I decided to change it up and try the Momofuku Milk Bar version. I’ve made a handful of Milk Bar cakes before, and, while often time consuming, they’re always fun and combine a variety of flavors and textures.

This cake starts with a spiced carrot cake base made without walnuts, pineapple, or coconut. It’s layered with liquid cheesecake, milk crumbs, and a graham cracker buttercream. Stacked three layers high it’s truly a beautiful cake. Overall, we’d rate it a 6 out of 10 for taste. Each bite is an experience – creamy cheesecake, crunchy milk crumb, and moist, spongy cake. While this cake is a sensory explosion, we prefer the simplicity of a regular carrot cake. You just can’t go wrong with cream cheese frosting!

I own the book and followed the recipe directly from the pages, but if you’d like to give it a try Cake by Courtney has the recipe on her blog. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time since there are a lot of components. I typically make these cakes over two days. And if you’re just looking for a solid carrot cake recipe without all the frills, here are my favorites: carrot cake recipe, buttermilk glaze recipe, and cream cheese frosting recipe.

Bon appetit!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

IMG_6415

It’s been many moons since I’ve had an Irish car bomb, but whenever St. Patrick’s Day rolls around I find myself thinking about that delicious, milkshake-like drink. To honor the patron saint of beer I whipped up some cupcakes that incorporate all the boozy components of the quintessential St. Paddy’s drink…without the hangover. You don’t have to slam these like the drink, but I won’t judge you if you do. They’re that good.

The traditional car bomb uses Guiness, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Jameson. Around here, we tend to buck tradition and wanted to use ingredients that were local. I used Loowit War Tortoise Barrel Aged Stout (brewed in Vancouver, WA) baked into the cupcakes, Woodinville Bourbon Whiskey (distilled in Woodinville, WA) swirled in the ganache, and Five Farms Irish Cream (not local – Cork, Ireland) whipped in the icing.

The following measurements will yield 12 cupcakes.

Chocolate Cake

My go-to chocolate cake recipe is none other than Hershey’s that I’ve adapted slightly over the years. It yields an insanely moist and flavorful cake that has yet to fail me. For this version, I swapped beer for the coffee.

  • 1.5 oz dark chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup stout of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk – I use 1/2 C milk with a tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder – can use regular cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare muffin tin.

Place chocolate chips and beer in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted. Whisk together until smooth.

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, mix together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, gradually pour in the milk mixture and mix until combined (~30 seconds). Slowly add the chocolate and beer mixture until combined.

Divide mixture evenly in the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Ganache

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) dark chocolate chips – or your favorite kind of chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey – can add more or less depending on your desired booziness

Heat heavy whipping cream in microwave-safe dish until hot but not boiling (~45 seconds – 1 minute). Add chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. Gently stir the mixture until smooth. Add whiskey and mix to combine. Allow ganache to cool; it will thicken as it cools and you may want to put it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process.

Irish Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream

In large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter on high until light and fluffy (~5 minutes). Slowly add powdered sugar in 1/4 cup increments allowing mixture to combine before adding more (this helps decrease the graininess you sometimes get with American buttercreams). Once all the sugar has been added, pour in the Irish cream and continue whipping until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes).

Assembly

Once cupcakes are cooled, use a knife to cut a small hole in the top of each cupcake. Spoon a generous amount of ganache into the hole. Frost the cupcakes using your favorite method (I used a Wilton 1M tip).

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

IMG_6402

Around mid-February, when it feels like the winter will never end, I get a craving for all things fresh, bright, and summery. Enter the lemon poppy seed pound cake. This bread is moist and bursting with lemon flavor. The poppy seeds add a fun texture and the glaze adds an extra punch of lemon. It’s perfect for breakfast, a mid-morning snack, or any time you’re craving a sweet treat. As always, we love ours paired with a good cup of coffee.

IMG_6389

Lemon poppy seed pound cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 1/2 large lemons (~2 tablespoons)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon (~2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease and flour an 8″x4″ bread pan.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine softened butter and sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes).

Mix in eggs one at a time until just combined. Then mix in vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Alternate adding in half the flour mixture and half of the yogurt, scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding in the remaining. Do not over-mix.

Pour batter in prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze

  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon (~2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Add additional juice or sugar as needed to achieve the desired consistency. I also added some lemon zest, because you can’t have too much lemon flavor.

Once cake is cooled, drizzle glaze over the top.

IMG_6404

IMG_6407

 

Recent Bakes

Just a couple of photos of some things I whipped up recently.

IMG_0054

Christmas cookies. I love making sugar cookies – the decorating is actually really cathartic to me – and I like to change it up and do some new designs every year. Matt requested the jumping reindeer this year, and they were my favorite!

56641616730__E5753203-1526-479F-896D-C1E79EE52A4B

Vegan meringues. This was on a bit of whim, but I roasted some chickpeas and wanted to see what I could make from the leftover brine. It whipped up with a bit of sugar into a fluffy, marshmallowy meringue that baked into a delightfully crunchy, chewy cookie. I slightly overbaked them, but we had them as part of a pavlova (not vegan) with whipped cream, cranberry curd, and berries and it wasn’t noticeable.

IMG_0118

Girl Scout Cookie samoa cake. Matt requested a cake, and when I came across this recipe I knew it was a winner. I used my classic chocolate cake recipe and layered it with: dark chocolate ganache, shortbread cookie crumbs, shortbread cookie buttercream, and toasted coconut caramel. It was decadent!