I confess!: chocolate blackout cake and the like which come loaded with bittersweet cocoa mounted on layer upon layer of chocolate ganache and creamy chocolate buttercream are actually not my favorite. I know some of you reading this right now, especially in my family, could be found salivating at the thought of these delicious chocolate treats, however, I’ve always preferred fruity desserts to chocolaty ones for some unknown reason.
That said, most of what I cook or bake is heavily influenced by the feedback I get from those who eat it and my desire to please my family and friends – and definitely NOT AT ALL for the purposes of earning praise . As it turns out, my in-laws are big fans of chocolate and since I aim to please, I decided to try this dessert recipe for last Sunday’s gathering.
Most chocolate cake recipes I came across in my research called for a substantial amount of coffee which was kind of an issue since John’s family is Mormon and coffee is out of the question (so is tea and wine, well really all alcoholic beverages, period). I admit, it made me a bit sad the idea of not using coffee and allowing this cake to attain its full flavorful potential… but we do what we can!
I found what I thought was a foolproof chocolate cake recipe in Food & Wine which I slightly modified to make Mormon proof by replacing the cup of coffee it called for by a cup of strong hot chocolate. I doubled the sponge part of the recipe to make a tall cake with four layers and followed a separate recipe for additional chocolate buttercream from Williams-Sonoma which, along with the chocolate ganache, would be alternated between the layers for a softer, sweeter taste.
My family tells me this recipe was a success although I though it was way too chocolaty, but since you already know my feelings about too much chocolate you can understand my bias.
Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Buttercream
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- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup strong hot cocoa
- 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbs light corn syrup
- 5 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs water
- 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Strawberry flavored syrup
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs water
- 1 Tbs strawberry or raspberry jam
For the Cake
(I followed this part of the recipe twice since I wanted to make four thick layers. Feel free to divide the mix among the pans according to your preferences and the number of layers you would like).
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment paper. Spray the pans and the parchment paper with vegetable cooking spray. (This is important! My first cake was so stuck to the bottom of the pan that I had to trow it away).
- In a large bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the eggs and vanilla. In another small bowl, melt the butter in the hot cocoa. Using an electric mixer, beat half of the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients at low speed. Beat in half of the hot cocoa mixture, then scrape down the bowl. Beat in the remaining buttermilk and cocoa mixtures.
- Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are springy to the touch. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
For the Chocolate Ganache
- Put the chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil. Immediately pour over the chocolate and let stand in a warm place for 5 minutes. Gently whisk the ganache until smooth. Whisk in the butter until incorporated.
- Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until the ganache is thick enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before using for frosting the cake.
For the Chocolate Buttercream
- Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
- Put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 6 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low. Add the chocolate and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.
- If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.
For the Strawberry Flavored Syrup
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the sugar with the water and heat for 30 seconds. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the strawberry jam and mix well. Set aside to cool (about 5 minutes).
- Set a cake layer on a cake plate or cake cardboard and brush lightly with the flavored syrup. Spread about 3/4 cup of the chocolate ganache onto the cake in an even 1/4-inch layer. Set the second layer down and brush with the syrup. Spread about 3/4 cup of the chocolate buttercream in an even layer. Repeat this process with the 3rd layer but this time spread with the ganache. Set the 4th and last layer, brush with syrup and frost the entire cake including sides with the reminder buttercream.
- Let the cake stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Optional – Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and spread the remaining ganache on top of the cake covering the top layer of buttercream. I decorated the cake with chocolate covered doughnut holes sprinkled with sugar.