As someone who works in a public school, one of the biggest perks is getting random breaks throughout the year like summer vacation and spring break. The most recent heavy snowfall marked the beginning of our spring break. Which, of course, makes… perfect sense. To celebrate the first weekend of the break and the fact that I was going to be hibernating the full weekend, I baked Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)’s Beatty’s chocolate cake, complete with a chocolate ganache layer and a thick layer of chocolate buttercream frosting. I used the snow to my advantage, too, by sticking the cake pans outside as an insta-cooling technique. I’ve noticed that I get super-smart/creative when push comes to shove and there’s cake waiting. Cool for 30 minutes before frosting the cake? Nay. I say, dunk cake pans in snow for 5. That shaves off a good 20 minutes of cooling time, which equates to shoveling cake down my throat 20 minutes sooner than anticipated. That’s a win.
Frosting is one of those things that can be as difficult as you want to make it. I prefer shortcuts. No double-boiler methods for melting down semi-sweet chocolate for me… not when I’ve already saved 20 minutes via natural elements refrigeration. I adapted Savory Sweet Life‘s chocolate buttercream frosting. Super-simple, super-delish. The almond extract gives a great depth to the frosting…. I totally dig it.
And the ganache/glaze layer I used, between the two layers of moist chocolate cake? Oh, that’s leftover from Joy the Baker‘s chocolate bundt cake glaze. I froze it at the time, since I didn’t use all of it– it was far too precious to just throw away! See how it came in handy this time? You can choose to make her yummy glaze, or you can substitute for any other type of glaze or ganache-type deliciousness. Or, maybe a layer of marshmallow frosting? Or, some raspberry or cherry compote? The possibilities are endless!! Of course, I will tell you– Joy’s chocolate glaze was an amazing compliment to this cake… just sayin’.
If you’re in the mood for something uber-chocolatastic, do yourself a solid… buy extra cocoa powder and go to town!
**cake (adapted from Beattie’s chocolate cake)**:
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 3/4 C sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 C buttermilk, shaken, room temp.
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C warm brewed coffee
Put it together:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (this is important!!! I did NOT use parchment paper… and one of my cakes fell apart. I glued it back together with frosting though– win?).
2. Sift the dry ingredients–flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt– into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together using the paddle attachment.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, MINUS THE COFFEE– buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
4. With mixer on low speed, slowly add in the wet ingredients into the stand mixer bowl. Afterwards, slowly pour in the coffee while the mixer is still going.
5. Scrape down the bowl of the mixer, then pour batter evenly amongst the two cake pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on cooling rack before transporting onto a cake stand/pedestal or plate to frost.
**ganache (adapted from Joy the Baker‘s chocolate bundt cake recipe)**:
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 C unsalted butter
2 C confectioner’s sugar
1/3 C sour cream, room temp.
4 Tbsp brewed coffee, cooled
Put it together:
1. I know I told you the frosting was super-easy. No use of a double-boiler to melt chocolate. The ganache…. is a little more delicate. It requires some TLC by way of slow melting. Sorry! Chop the unsweetened chocolate up, put them in a heat-safe bowl and set the bowl over a pot of near-simmering hot water.
2. While the chocolate is melting, microwave the butter until it melts. Remove chocolate from heat once it’s all melted. Whisk together the melted chocolate and melted butter.
3. Sift in the confectioner’s sugar, a bit at a time. Add in the sour cream. Then, whisk in the coffee until the glaze is nice and shiny.
Once your glaze/ganache is done and your bottom layer of your 2-layer cake is cooled, slather that glaze onto the top of your cake. Yum. Then, carefully stack the top layer of your cake on top of the glazed bottom layer.
Perfect! Now we’re ready for the super-easy frosting:
**chocolate buttercream frosting! (adapted from Savory Sweet Life)**:
1 C unsalted butter, room temp.
2 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
1/2 C cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
3-4 Tbsp whole milk or heavy cream, room temp.
Put it together:
1. Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for a couple of minutes using the paddle attachment, until creamy.
2. Sift cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar in a different bowl, then sloooooowly incorporate the cocoa and sugar with the butter in the stand mixer bowl. Mix in by hand first, then mix on the lowest setting of the stand mixer.
3. Increase speed to medium and add in almond extract, salt, and dairy of your choice. Adjust the amount of dairy as you see fit– if you want a thicker frosting, minimize the amount of liquid; if you want a thinner more spreadable frosting, add a little more liquid. Beat for a couple of minutes until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. You can always add more cocoa and/or confectioner’s sugar if you need the frosting to be thicker, too.
Grab a fork, a tall glass of milk, and enjoy 🙂