This is the cake I made for my husband’s birthday earlier this month and it turned out better than I anticipated. I have had plenty of practice making pies, fails and successes, but not enough experience with cake. Doesn’t cake seem like it would be easier to make than pie? All my cakes have been pretty fail-ish, so when this cake turned out well, even with an emergency frosting change, I felt like this was my tipping-point for future success.
My emergency frosting change was doing the ganache as a drip instead of a full coverage as the recipe called for. I didn’t have enough left over to cover all the cake so I crossed my fingers and chose this route (way easier than frosting the usual way). It also called for making macarons for the decoration top, but since I wasn’t going to even think of attempting this, not to mention macarons have always underwhelmed me, I decided to go with mix berries.
Chocolate Cake Layers
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ stick | 4 tablespoons salted butter
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- 6 tablespoons strong coffee
- 1 large egg
White, Dark, and Milk Chocolate Ganaches
- 3 ½ ounces white chocolate
- 3 ½ ounces milk chocolate
- 7 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 1 ¼ cups whipping cream
berries, mint leaves……..macarons, whatever, rose buds
Making the chocolate layers
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Prepare two 6-inch cake pans with butter and flour or parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl.
- Melt the butter, and mix it in a separate bowl with the buttermilk and coffee.
- Stir the butter mixture and the egg into the dry ingredients, and beat just until combined and the batter is smooth–do not overmix. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
- Bake the layers in the center of the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs.
- Cool the layers for 10 minutes in the pans, and untold them onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting. You can plan ahead and make the cake layers the day before, wrap tight in plastic and keep in refrigerator. Cooler cakes make it easier to cut into layers and frost.
Making the white, dark and milk chocolate ganaches
- Chop each of the chocolates separately, and place each into its own bowl.
- Heat the cream in a saucepan. Just before it reaches the boiling point, remove it from the heat immediately.
- Divide the cream among the bowls of chocolate: use about two-thirds of the amount for the dark chocolate and divide the rest evenly for the white and milk chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, and stir each until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Cool the cream until it is easy to spread. If any of the ganache becomes too firm, carefully heat it for a few seconds at a time in the microwave.
Assembling the cake
- Slice each layer in half horizontally so you will have four thin layers for the cake.
- Place the first layer on a cake plate or board. Spread an even amount of White Chocolate Ganache over the layer. If the ganache is too soft, refrigerate the cake for a few minutes before adding the next layer.
- Add the next layer, and cover it with the Milk Chocolate Ganache.
- Add the third layer, and cover it with some of the Dark Chocolate Ganache, making it the same thickness as the previous layers.
- Place the last layer on top, cut side down. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of Dark Chocolate Ganache to create a crumb coating (this keeps the crumbs in place and will smooth out any unevenness). Refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes or until the crumb coating has set.
- At this point you can choose which direction you want to go with frosting the cake.
- For Chocolate Ganache Drip: Briefly warm the remaining Dark Chocolate Ganache just until it has a thick spreadable consistency (like pudding) so that it can slowly drip down the sides of the cake as you spread it out. You don’t want the ganache running down the sides. Carefully pour the ganache on top of the cake in the middle. With a frosting spatula, spread out the frosting to make a smooth top, working the ganache toward the edges, which then gently get pushed off and begin dripping down. Before the ganache sets, decorate the top of the cake and then refrigerate it to firm completely.
- For Smooth Chocolate Ganache Frosting: Take the Dark Chocolate Ganache and spread the top of the cake. Continue down the sides all around the cake as before. Even out the sides and then the top of the cake by carefully drawing the offset spatula up and over the edge and in toward the center so that any extra frosting is pulled toward the center of the cake. Dry the spatula completely between each pass. To make the sides of the cake smoother, you can run a dough scraper all the way around the cake. For a totally even and smooth surface, dip an offset spatula in warm water and dry it between each pass. When this is done, andyou are satisfied with the cake, decorate the cake as desired and refrigerate it to firm completely.