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.
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!
Check out the recipe below and let me know if you give it a shot!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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).
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).
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.
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.
- 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.
Or Valentine’s Day, if you celebrate ☺️. Here’s a virtual chocolate strawberry cake – filled with strawberry jam and topped with strawberry buttercream and chocolate ganache drips.
Just a couple of photos of some things I whipped up recently.
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!
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.
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!