Best-Ever Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere!

I was looking through some older posts the other day, and I came across these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting. And while I’ve never been fixated on Nutella desserts, I had almost forgotten how much I loved the way the sweet and hazelnutty flavour and creamy texture of Nutella added a much-welcome addition to these otherwise classic (but awesome) chocolate cupcakes.  So this week I decided to make a super-simple, quick and easy cake version of those cupcakes, embracing quality dark chocolate, extra dark cocoa powder and, of course, Nutella.

Simply put, the frosting is magical. Like unicorn and rainbows magical.

I have this thing about chocolate frosting. I kind of need it to be airy and satiny, as opposed to super-fudgy and dense–I think it pairs so well with a deep, dark moist chocolate cake, such as this one. This frosting is a take on that same Nutella Cloud Frosting I had used on the cupcakes, but I decided to add much more Nutella and a generous amount of sour cream to balance out the sweet. Rather than using the mixer, I just popped everything into my food processor and gave it a 60-second spin or so. The result was the creamiest and richest sweet chocolate frosting I’ve ever tasted.

In addition to the Nutella, we add a good dose of extra dark premium melted chocolate (I used a 70%) to help keep some of the intense chocolate flavour. The Nutella lends to the satiny texture, but because it is already quite sweet, the overall quality of this frosting is on the sweet side, but with a dark decadence. If you can’t get Nutella, or if you find you prefer a deeper flavour with minimal sweetness, you could even skip the Nutella and add a handful of ground hazelnuts. Of course the texture would change to a more rustic one, but the taste would be notably more sophisticated.

But Nutella seems to bring a nostalgic element for some, and if this cake is going anywhere near a little cakelet’s belly, I think Nutella is the way to go, because kids go, well, nuts for this stuff.

And because this cake, as simple as it is, is a celebration of chocolate, I opted for a medley of pure chocolate sprinkles as the finishing touch. It adds an interesting visual and delightful chocolaty crunch to each slice. For the piped border, I went with an unfussy shell-style border, but extended each one for a few extra seconds to create a more elongated shell look. Nothing fancy, but quick, easy and pretty. Because this frosting pipes like a dream, it makes for the perfect frosting border.

So this photo just goes to show that not all cakes look picture-perfect when sliced (this is what happens when I frost a cake and take photos 10 minutes later, rather than refrigerating it for some time to set), but holy Easter-bunny this chocolaty madness is divine. And it couldn’t be easier to create. You’ll see!

Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 7-inch round cake

Super-moist, dark chocolate cake filled and frosted with satiny dark chocolate & Nutella sour cream frosting and covered in a medley of chocolate sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups (285 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3 cups (470 grams) superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 grams) salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4 1/2 cups (565 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (280 grams) Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) full-fat sour cream
  • 11 ounces (330 grams) best-quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 7-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment rounds.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 1 minute on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans--each pan should contain about 600 grams of batter.
  4. Bake the first 2 layers for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining layer, and then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  6. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. The frosting will be very soft. Refrigerate the frosting until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
  7. Assembly of the Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake:
  8. Put a dollop of frosting on a 7-inch round cake board (or cake plate) or 8-inch scalloped cake board.
  9. Put your first layer top-up on the cake board or plate, and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly across layer. Put the second cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting. Put the final cake layer top-down. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and wiggle the layers into place. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes.
  10. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another thin layer of frosting, this time working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill for another 15 minutes.
  11. Apply a third coat of frosting to the cake. Holding a tall pastry comb in your dominant hand, press it gently against the side of the cake and keep it steady. Use the other hand to slowly rotate the turntable until you have gone all the way around the cake. Gently press some chocolate sprinkles around the bottom edge of the cake.
  12. Fit a medium pastry bag with a medium-large closed star tip, such as 1M, and fill about 2/3 full with frosting. Pipe a border around the top of the cake. Chill the cake until the frosting border firms up, at least 30 minutes.
  13. Cover the top of the cake (but not the piped border) with chocolate sprinkles. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top. The cake will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you don’t have 7-inch round cake pans, you could also use 8-inch cake pans. The layers will just be ever-so-slightly shorter.
  • For the cake layers, I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Brute–it adds so much depth, chocolate-y flavour and a wonderfully dark hue.
  • For the frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 %  to balance the sweetness of the Nutella.
  • I used one of the Wilton Decorate Smart 3-Piece Icing Comb Set for the sides of the cake (the furthest comb to the right in the image).
  • I used a medley of chocolate vermicelli sprinkles on top, including India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli and De Ruyter Chocoadehagel. Any kind works well, but I prefer to keep it to pure chocolate vermicelli, as opposed to just chocolate jimmies.
  • Because the frosting has sour cream in it, it’s best to refrigerate this cake if it hasn’t been gobbled up after a day. Keep refrigerated at that point, and serve at room temperature (although it tastes pretty great cold too).

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Easter Extravaganza Bark

I think it’s safe to say that treat-wise, Easter is my best-loved time of year. The endless chocolate, the bunnies of all shapes and sizes, pastel marshmallows, Peeps, candy-coated eggs, cream-filled eggs, pastel everything, sprinkles and more–all of the flavours and colours make me giddy. I’ve seen some pretty colourful Easter Candy Bark on Pinterest, but I decided to create my own version and go a little crazy with the toppings. There’s something so delightful about full, but small, peanut-butter filled bunnies, bunny marshmallow and peeps bound to swirls of Callebaut Dark Chocolate 53.8% along with Callebaut white chocolate, and then surrounded by a flurry of mini treats and sprinkles. I incorporated Rice Krispies into the bottom layer of the bark because those crispy chocolate bunnies were my favourite as a little girl, and I’d say even still.

And while I think it makes perfect sense to use leftover Easter candy, I can’t help but feel that this sort of treat is so much more appealing right before or during Easter time. I just feel that it’s kind of the last thing people want to see after a few days of indulging in all things Easter, you know? And since it takes almost no time at all, it’s a simple way to bring the unexpected to Easter celebrations without spending hours in the kitchen (you know, I’d never recommend that . . . ahem. #letsmaketoweringcakes).

I also think this would be such a great addition to any Easter basket–my girls’ eyes were as big as saucers when they came home and saw this Easter sugar explosion in the kitchen. And why not include your cakelets and make it an Easter weekend activity–you layer the chocolate, and let them do all of the toppings? Or even let them come shopping and decide what’s going to land upon the sea of chocolate bark themselves.

So when I decided to create this Easter Extravaganza Bark, I headed for the Easter section of Target for inspiration and to pick up an array of toppings, and then I tied that in with some of the sprinkles and sugar decorations I had here at home. I went with a few Marshmallow Peeps 60th Anniversary Vanilla Creme marshmallows (these are amazing, and I fear only around for a short time), Wilton Silhouette Bunny Icing DecorationsReese’s Easter Mini Peanut Butter Reester BunniesM&M’s White Chocolate Easter CandyCadbury Mini EggsDare Marshmallow Rabbits, and then just some white sugar pearls, pink nonpareils and jimmies.

Afterwards, I realized that I had wanted to use my all-time favourite Easter candy: Whoppers Easter Mini Robin Eggs. I love the speckled candy coating and I’m a Whopper (similar to Maltesers) fanatic. Forgetting to include them may have had something to do with the fact that the almost-empty bag was in my, um, purse. While I usually resist most candy on daily basis, I cannot resist anything malted-milk related. I’m going to make another batch and include those along with a few jelly beans and mini cream eggs. Oh yes.

When I make bark of any kind, I temper the chocolate. You’ll probably notice that in many bark recipes the instructions simply call for melting the chocolate and then storing the bark in the refrigerator. While this does work just fine, I tend to love to gift my bark, so I prefer to temper the chocolate first, which takes no extra time (when you do it the easy way, in the microwave) and gives the chocolate that gloss and snap we all love (I also much prefer to eat chocolate at room temperature). Once tempered, the bark can stay at room temperature and makes it a little prettier with its sheen and snap.

For the marbling, I tinted the Belgian white chocolate a pastel shade of teal (even pink or yellow would be amazing) using a bit of AmeriColor Flo-Coat mixed with AmeriColor turquoise gel paste (see Sweetapolita’s Notes), because while using colourful candy compound melts would be a fraction easier, I like to keep the quality of the bark the best it can be, since it’s all about the chocolate when it comes to bark. An alternative would be adding a few coloured candy melts to the white chocolate before melting/tempering for the same effect.

Since no two batches are ever the same, I’d love to see what Easter Extravaganza Bark creations you come up with! Share them on my Sweetapolita Facebook page or even send me a photo via email. I’d love to hear from you!

Easter Extravaganza Bark

Dark Belgian chocolate and Rice Krispie bark covered with swirled dark & white and topped with a medley of Easter chocolate, candy, sprinkles, marshmallows and more.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound plus 2 ounces (600 grams) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets
  • 2 cups (50 grams) Rice Krispies (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 6 ounces (180 grams) best-quality white chocolate, chopped or callets
  • About 8 turquoise candy melts (such as Wilton brand), chopped, OR few drops AmeriColor Sky Blue gel paste colour plus Flo-Coat (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
  • Variety of Easter candy (such as mini filled chocolate bunnies, marshmallow bunnies, white chocolate m & m candy, candy-coated mini eggs, Peeps, etc.)
  • Sprinkles of choice

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat 10 ounces (300 grams) of the dark chocolate in 20-second bursts, stirring well after each interval, until the chocolate is almost melted but still has some solid pieces. Stop heating and stir until smooth--this can take a few moments (see Sweetapolita's Notes). Stir in the rice cereal until combined, and use a small offset palette knife to spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a very thin layer. Let sit until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, prepare your candy toppings (unwrap foil-covered chocolate, etc.).
  3. Using the same tempering method, heat the remaining dark chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread the chocolate overtop of the first layer. Temper the white chocolate (this only takes about 50-60 seconds), including the candy melts if using. If using gel paste to colour, combine the Flo-Coat and gel paste in a small bowl and stir into the tempered white chocolate. Pour the tempered and tinted white chocolate into a few lines across the dark chocolate, and swirl with a toothpick.
  4. While the dark and white chocolate are still soft, add all of your candy toppings. Let sit until completely set, about 2 hours, and then cut into wedges using a large, sharp knife. Store at room temperature.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • To learn about how to temper chocolate the “easy way,” in the microwave, check out these simple instructions from Callebaut. In addition to those steps, if you have a digital candy thermometer, just be sure that your dark chocolate never exceeds 32-33°C (90°F), and 30°C (86°F) for white or milk chocolate. If this does happen, simply add a handful of chocolate callets or chopped chocolate, and stir well to until smooth. Heat for a few seconds if necessary, but again not exceeding those ideal temperatures.
  • I use AmeriColor Flo-Coat when colouring white chocolate, which is a candy-oil used for making water-based gel-paste colours compatible with chocolate. If we add the gel-paste colours straight to the white chocolate, it causes it to seize. To use the Flo-Coat, mix 6 drops for every 1 drop of colour, and combine before adding to the tempered chocolate. For this recipe, I used 18 drops of Flo-Coat with 3 drops of AmeriColor Sky Blue gel paste. Alternatively, you can add a small handful of chopped coloured candy melts (such as Make & Mold or Wilton) to your white chocolate before melting, and that will tint your chocolate a pale turquoise.
  • As you’ve probably guessed, absolutely anything goes when it comes to what you add to this candy bark–jelly beans, malted milk eggs, mini creme eggs and so much more would be incredible additions!
  • Wrap a few slabs of bark in a crystal clear cellophane bag tied with some festive pastel ribbon for a whimsical addition to any Easter basket or for gifting.

Good luck & enjoy!

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6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake + a Cookbook Announcement!

So . . . I have some news! As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’m thrilled to share that I’ve just embarked upon writing my first Sweetapolita baking book!

I know this will be the most creatively rewarding journey of my life so far and, although writing a book is all new to me, I feel strangely comfortable — as though this is exactly where I was meant to be. It also makes a world of difference having such incredible support. Over the past many months, I’ve worked closely with my fabulous literary agent, Judy Linden of Stonesong Press, while creating my book proposal, and without her this would never have come to be. And I couldn’t be more honoured to be teaming with such an amazing editor, Ashley Phillips, from Clarkson Potter  and yet another amazing editor here in Canada, Robert McCullough, from Appetite by Random House of Canada – have you seen the incredible cookbooks they publish? Of course you have! Martha Stewart’s books, the Barefoot Contessa books and Rachael Ray’s books are just some examples of the incredibly inspiring books published by Clarkson Potter/Random House. Needless to say I’m in amazing hands.

As I worked on the outline for this book over the past year or more, I felt as though I going to bust from the urge to share the ideas with you on the blog. Somewhat torturous and exhilarating all at the same time! I tapped into the very essence of my heart and soul, and now it’s time to bring those ideas to life in the kitchen, through the lens and finally, in print. I simply can’t wait to share more details with you along the way. What a journey ahead!

Finally, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my sweets-loving heart for helping me make this happen. Your enthusiasm and support for this blog has inspired me to strive for creative heights I never imagined possible. And the truth is, I kind of love you guys. Like crazy.

And as any self-respecting baking junkie would do in a time of celebration and dreams-come-true, I made a super-sprinkly cake!

Sprinkle Cake via Sweetapolita

What is this sprinkle-crusted cakey-ness? It’s a 6-layer moist chocolate cake, filled with vanilla birthday cake whipped cream filling (we’ll get to that yumminess), covered in malted Belgian chocolate frosting, then covered with a medley of sprinkles and such. Inspired by one of my favourite cake recipes, the Campfire Delight Cake, I’ve been thinking a lot about 6-layer chocolate cakes covered in malted Belgian chocolate frosting — it’s just too awesome to not. But with all of that chocolate going on, 5 layers of vanilla birthday cake whipped cream filling push the party in this cake over the edge. So decadent!

You probably remember from this cake and this cake that I love whipped cream filling. I think it’s such a great starting point for a filling, and you can flavour it pretty much any way you like. It’s so light and airy, and because it’s not sweet or buttery, it’s the perfect filling for a rich cake frosted with a rich icing. So I just took that whipped cream filling and turned it into a vanilla birthday cake of sorts! With some white cake batter, pure vanilla and rainbow sprinkles that classic whipped cream filling just had 8 excitable little girls show up to the door with their party hats on.

sprinklecakeed

I thought it would be fun to make a huge sprinkle medley to decorate this cake, so I just grabbed a big bowl along with a bunch of jars of my favourite sprinkles and sugar pearls, and kept adding and shaking them up until I liked the way it looked. I decided to pipe a fancy border around the top, mostly because I love the consistency of that chocolate frosting, and I knew most of the cake surface would be covered with sprinkles.

Crunchy, creamy, cakey, fluffy, chocolaty. The border is just a twist on this piping technique, but with the 1M star tip, and rather than just piping one “shell” after the other in a straight single line around the top of the cake, I angled the first one toward the centre slightly, and then piped another right beside it, angling it toward the first — like a heart shape. Once you do this around the whole cake, it takes on a woven look of sorts. Really quite simple, but neat looking!

Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

And then I started daydreaming frolicking in a huge adult-size play area filled with 5 feet of this sprinkle medley. And then I had cake. And then I did a few jumps for joy! And then I got a cramp. But then I jumped for joy again!

I simply cannot wait to share more book details with you all. Stay tuned! In the meantime, please say you’ll make this cake to help me celebrate?

6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake

Yield: One 6-layer, 8-inch round cake

Serving Size: 8-10

6 layers of moist, dark chocolate cake filled with birthday cake whipped cream and sprinkles, covered in creamy, rich malted Belgian chocolate frosting and covered in a medley of more sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Whipped Birthday Cake Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cold water
  • 1 tablespoons (15 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (15 g) white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 lb butter (2 cups)(454 g), at room temperature
  • 4 cups (500 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) Ovaltine Classic (brown in colour)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz (250 g) quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) whipping (35% fat) cream
  • You will Also Need:
  • Sprinkles! Lots of them (about 2 cups), preferably a mix.

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans (butter, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper, dust with flour).
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. (Batter will be thin.)
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Whipped Birthday Cake Filling:
  6. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, sift together the icing sugar and cake mix.
  8. In a chilled stainless steel bowl with a chilled whisk attachment (for stand mixer), beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar/cake mix, vanilla and salt until it thickens just slightly and soft peaks begin to form, about 1 minute. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  9. For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  10. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.
  11. Add malt powder, vanilla and salt, and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  12. Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
  13. Mix and "work in" with rubber spatula right before applying to cake (to rid of air bubbles).
  14. Assembly of the 6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake:
  15. In a medium bowl or container, create a mixture of your favourite sprinkles: non-pareils, rainbow jimmies, chocolate sprinkles, pearls, etc. Set aside.
  16. On an 8-inch round cake board (or cake plate), put a small dollop of frosting. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  17. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and cover with 1/5 of the Whipped Birthday Cake leaving about 1/2" around the edge and cover with a thin layer of your favourite sprinkle mix.
  18. Repeat until you come to your final layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume.
  19. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting to seal in crumbs. Chill until firm. Repeat with another layer of frosting, this time working to get the frosting as smooth as possible. Place cake on a cookie sheet and carefully press your sprinkle mix onto sides, letting the excess fall down onto the cookie sheet. You can cover sides completely or leave 1/3 exposed (as in photo). Once you are pleased with your sprinkled sides, fill a medium or large pastry bag fitted with pastry tip 1M with the remaining frosting (about 2/3 full) and pipe border around the top of cake. Chill until firm.
  20. Take cake from fridge and cover the top with a layer of your sprinkle mixture, using a toothpick to push sprinkles in between piping. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top.
  21. Serve cake at room temperature, but keep refrigerated if not serving the day it's made.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the chocolate cake, I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark.
  • For the malted Belgian chocolate frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % .
  • For my sprinkle medley, I used rainbow jimmies, sugar pearls, chocolate jimmies, and tiny round rainbow sprinkles.
  • To decorate the piped border, I used a medium pastry bag and pastry tip 1M.
  • You can make the chocolate cake layers up 2 days ahead, wrapped tight in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature, or up to two weeks ahead wrapped tight and frozen. Thaw in refrigerator and then bring to room temperature.
  • Keep decorated cake in refrigerator for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Neapolitan is one of those words that makes me feel like a little girl the moment I hear it or think about it. And while I never actually ate Neapolitan cake as a child, I ate my fair share of Neapolitan ice cream (well, just the vanilla portion anyway). Chocolate and/or strawberry ice cream just wasn’t (and still isn’t) my thing, but I sure have fond memories of the visual — that big frozen block of tri-colour loveliness meant one thing and one thing only: a party (and where there was ice cream, there was usually cake).

And the thing is, you can really create so many variations using the beloved chocolate, strawberry and vanilla combination — remember this and these? Endless fun.

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

So, because I’d never done it before, I decided to switch up the strawberry with raspberry for this version, and rather than use a “pink” cake layer, just filled the cake with the fruity raspberry Swiss buttercream and compote, and then covered it all in a mix of dark chocolate buttercream, vanilla and more of the raspberry. The cake does take a bit of time to make because there are four components, but it comes together surprisingly quickly — especially if you make the raspberry compote and Swiss buttercream ahead of time.

The frosting job was a little more rustic looking than originally planned, but I hadn’t done it this way before, and had a vision. But once I started frosting it, I was worried that if I kept smoothing for more of a blended look (like this, this and this cake), my chocolate and vanilla would soon look like chanilla, which I imagine to be a little less than magical (although I bet it would still taste pretty delightful). This sort of sectioned style of frosting the cake reminded me of the block of childhood ice cream I mentioned above, so I stuck with that.

Bunting via Sweetapolita

And nothing says party like a tiny cake bunting, right?  This is one that I had from several years ago that was actually one single garland, but I just re-purposed it by tying it to two white lollipop sticks. You’ve likely seen cake bunting all over Pinterest and the like, and you can either MacGvyer your own (pretty much anything colourful tied between two sticks and stuck in the cake would look charming) using twine, string, cord, etc. or buy one of the seemingly endless versions on Etsy.

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Party for one?

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake via Sweetapolita

Like a playful (and decadent) trip to childhood and back.

And before I go, I’d love to share my recent interview over at Best Friends For Frosting with you, where I got a chance to chat about my past life, balance and avoiding weight gain while surrounded by baked goods all day! ♥

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake

Yield: One 4-layer, 8-inch round cake

Alternating layers of moist vanilla and dark chocolate cake, filled with raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream and smothered in a trio of dark chocolate, vanilla and raspberry buttercream.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 1-3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons (11 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) strong black coffee or espresso, hot
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Vanilla Cake:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (130 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups (288 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1-1/4 tablespoons (16 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (6 grams)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • For the Raspberry Compote:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 8 large fresh egg whites (240 g)
  • 2 cups (500 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 5 sticks (575 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Few drops pink soft gel paste colour

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients. In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients, increasing the speed to medium. Mix for 1-1/2 minutes (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and divide among prepared pans (each pan will weigh ~590 g).
  4. Bake until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 25 minutes. Try not to overbake. Cool on wire racks in pans for 15 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Vanilla Cake:
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  7. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/3 cup of the milk, egg whites, whole egg, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  8. Sift cake flour twice. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low-speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  9. Add the butter blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  10. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  11. Pour 1/2 of your batter (445 g) into each prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If possible, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  12. Bake cake layers two-at-a-time in center of oven and 2" apart for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  13. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.
  14. For the Raspberry Compote:
  15. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1-1/2 cups of the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, water, and salt until the berries start to break down, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  16. Lower the heat and simmer until compote coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.
  17. Remove from heat and let cool down slightly. Using an immersion blender (carefully) or counter-top blender, pulse until smooth. Push compote through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass bowl and discard the seeded pulp from the sieve. Stir in remaining raspberries. Keep covered and chilled for up to 3 days.
  18. For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  19. Wipe the bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  20. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 15 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  21. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  22. Assembly of the Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake:
  23. Divide buttercream in half. Add 3 tablespoons (one tablespoon at a time) of the raspberry compote to one half, along with a few drops of pink gel colour (if desired). Set aside.
  24. Take half of the remaining buttercream and add the melted chocolate, stirring until well incoporated. Leave the final portion of buttercream vanilla.
  25. Using a cake turntable if possible, place first chocolate cake layer face-up on a cake plate, cake board or pedestal and cover with ~3/4 cup of raspberry buttercream, spreading with a small offset palette knife, leaving about 1" clearance around the edges. Carefully place a few spoonfuls of compote on top, keeping it in the middle.
  26. Place a vanilla cake layer face-up on top and repeat with buttercream/compote. Repeat until you come to the final chocolate cake layer, which you will place face-down. Cover cake in plastic wrap, then use your hands to straighten any leaning or layers that aren't lined up. Chill for 30 minutes.
  27. Remove from refrigerator, remove wrap and cover cake a very thin layer of the vanilla buttercream. Chill for another 30 minutes.
  28. Cover top of cake with a smooth layer of raspberry buttercream (extending it over the edges), bottom third of the cake with chocolate buttercream and remaining area with vanilla buttercream. Using a medium straight spatula (or similar tool), smooth buttercream over the cake and create a blended look.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You can make the raspberry compote from fresh or frozen raspberries, and can make up to 3 days ahead of time (keep chilled). 
  • You can make the cake layers a day ahead, wrapping them well in plastic wrap and leaving at room temperature.
  • You can make the Swiss meringue buttercream up to a week ahead and leave in the refrigerator, bringing to room temperature the night before you need it. You can microwave 1/3 of it for about 10 seconds, add it to the remaining buttercream and either whip in the mixer or with a rubber spatula until smooth and creamy.
  • You can also freeze the Swiss meringue buttercream for up to a month, bringing to room temperature straight from freezer.
  • You can also pre-flavour the buttercream before freezing/refrigerating.
  • The cake bunting in the photos was a bunting I had from a previous party –I trimmed it and tied to two lollipop sticks.
  • This cake can be left out for a day, but should be refrigerated after that and brought back to room temperature before serving (I recommend bringing it out about 4-5 hours before serving.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Vanilla Cream-Filled Cake for Two via Sweetapolita

Hi, guys! This post might be a teaser of sorts with its iPhone-only photos, but the good news is that this recipe is one that I couldn’t go another day without sharing. I had planned to do “official” photos of this cake, and I still might when I make it again for my man on Valentine’s Day, but for now let’s talk about how much I want you to make this cake. (I also think this is perfect best-friend-sharing cake for two!)

What exactly is going on in that little 5″ round tower of gooey decadence? It’s 6 layers of a deep, dark (super-moist) chocolate chip devil’s food cake stacked and filled with a fluffy vanilla cream and smothered in a glossy, satiny, super-chocolaty glaze. I say it’s “for two,” but of course you both might surrender before  it’s all done and save some for later. You can smother it in the glaze and then let it set, but I think it’s much sexier and decadent to pour the warm gooey glaze all over it and embrace the messy deliciousness digging right in — this is no time for cutting pristine slices.

I made this little super-simple chalkboard cake topper to profess my love by cutting out two chalkboard labels with a tag cutter (but you could use scissors) and taping to each side of bamboo skewer that I cut to size. So easy!

And this is one of those cakes that you can infinitely modify with new flavours. I love the idea of adding liqueur to the glaze (I did Grand Marnier for a hint of orange), and you can even go ahead and add some orange zest to the cream filling. I love the idea of an espresso theme — you could add Kahlua to the glaze, and even add a bit of coffee extract to the cream filling. What I do recommend, though, is always using the best chocolate you can, especially with the glaze. I used an extra dark chocolate with 72% cocoa solids, but you can use any kind you like. You’ll just want to stay away from milk chocolate, as it’s just a bit too sweet for this kind of glaze.

I opted out of using a ganache (chocolate and heavy cream) because the cake filling is made from heavy cream, and I find that much ganache on top of this much cake and cream filling a bit over the top, but you could definitely give that a try if you’re feeling rebellious. The glaze is made from chocolate, butter, a bit of light corn syrup, splash of liqueur (optional) and a pinch of sea salt (I also love how easy it is to make.) and, like ganache, takes to pretty much any flavouring you love.

So you might see another version of this cake soon, along with a few other upcoming cake delights, but in the meantime here is the recipe for this ooey gooey, super-chocolaty cake for two. Oh, and if you’d like to check out me digging into this cake for real (and I realize it’s just me . . . not two), you can watch it here, taken via my new favourite iPhone app, “Vine.” An app kind of like Instagram, but rather than viewing snippets of life in images, you see 6-second looped video clips — way too much fun. ♥

Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Yield: One 6-layer, 5-inch round cake

Moist, dark and decadent chocolate chip devil's food cake stacked high and filled with vanilla cream and covered in a rich and super chocolaty glaze . . . for two.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups (300 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (145 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) Dutch-process dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk, shaken and warm
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coffee or espresso
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup premium dark or extra dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
  • For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 6 oz (180 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) light corn syrup
  • Splash of liqueur of choice, optional (grand marnier, spiced rum, kahlua, etc.)
  • Pinch of sea salt (regular salt, if necessary)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 5-inch round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the coffee and buttermilk. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, then fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda (it will foam) and quickly add to batter, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 275 g each (excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Try not to over-bake.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  7. For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  8. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  9. In a chilled stainless steel bowl, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens slightly and soft peaks form. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  10. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  11. Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in liqueur and salt.
  12. Assembly of the Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two:
  13. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  14. Place your first layer face-up on a plate and cover with an even thin layer of the Vanilla Cream Filling, taking it right to the edge. Place another cake layer face-up and spread another layer of the filling on top. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume.
  15. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap, and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  16. Pour the warm chocolate glaze all over cake. Dig in.

Notes

[vanilla cream filling adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used three 5 x 2 Inch Round Cake Pan for this cake. These pans are super cute and so handy for small layers cakes. It feels unnatural spending money on three of the same pan at first, but it’s so worth it if you like building multi-layer cakes. 
  • I used 72% Bittersweet Chocolate  for my chocolate chips in the cake itself and the glaze, which really a dark and intense chocolate. You can use any premium dark or extra dark chocolate you might have on hand or prefer.
  • I use this MAC Knife for all of my cake layering. It’s super sharp and makes clean cake layers, ideal for building not-so-crumby layer cakes.
  • I recommend chilling the wrapped cake layers for about 30 minutes before slicing them to build the cake, and then chilling the filled cake (you can carefully cover with plastic wrap) for about an hour before covering with the glaze and eating. It’s not required, but if you find your cake is wobbly, this helps set the filling, keeping it more stable.
  • Leftover cake (is there such a thing?) should be refrigerated, because of the whipped cream filling and served at room temperature. I love this chocolate cake because it stays unthinkably moist even after refrigeration.
  • For the cake topper, I used this Tag Punch and cut from something similar to this Black Chalkboard Vinyl and then just trimmed the end for a plain rectangle. (The tag punch is also awesome for making these photo gift tags, among other fun ideas.)

Good luck & enjoy!

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