Happy New Year, friends! Did you bake yourself into oblivion during the holidays? Are you pepperminted out? I can never be, although I ate my weight in peppermint bark several times. While I know we all likely exceeded our chocolate quota for 2015 (or maybe just me), it's a new year, and a fresh start! This week I made this Dark & Dreamy Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake because, while I love all cake-making, my heart belongs to layer cakes, and often the classic and classic-ish variety--I thrive on working and re-working recipes until I can find the magic of the ultimate texture and taste, you know? That might explain why I have so many versions of chocolate cakes and frostings and vanilla cake and frostings! A lot of it is based on my own personal taste, I'm sure--not liking things too dense, too this or too that, etc., but it's also just a love and need for baking. I know you can all relate! I recently bought a big tub of Guittard Noir Cocoa Powder, and oh my gosh--incredible. You might remember that I have used black cocoa powder before when I made this Midnight Cookies & Cream Cake, and I had a feeling it would be a game-changer. When you want that extra depth of flavour and colour, there's nothing like it. This time I opted to use it in a more classic way in the same Midnight Chocolate Cake layers, but paired it with a frosting that is super dark and decadent, but still shiny, creamy and workable for several hours. It will then firm up just enough to be semi-solid and "fudgey." I also wanted to use the black cocoa powder in the frosting, so I re-worked this Glossy Fudge Frosting recipe I created in the past. While the recipe is similar, you'll notice that the use of black cocoa powder along with melted dark chocolate creates a stunning colour and taste. A generous dose of sour cream brings a wonderful richness (but no "sour cream" taste, simply a tang that balances out the dark chocolate in a way that is glorious and beyond), and we only use a handful of confectioners' sugar to add a bit of sweetness. It's not as dark as this Glossy Dark Chocolate Frosting I used in the Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake, but it has a much more "fudge-like" quality with the use of premium melted chocolate, and the preparation is much simpler (and just like the cake layers, it's one-bowl wonder). Chocolate party! One of the things I love most about this frosting is its workability and shine--it just makes the whole caking process so much more fun and offers an ease to the whole frosting-the-cake situation. I find that if frosting the cake is causing stress, it's because the consistency is off, you know? Most frostings (aside from meringue/marshmallow style) can stand a few seconds in the microwaves so that they are soft and spreadable. It's key! Like a dream. And I love to make those poofs on the cake when the frosting is so glossy and gorgeous! Simple but sweet and so, so easy--like a little cake party for 1. And it wouldn't be a party without a few sprinkles, right? I mixed a few from my shop, and I felt like less is more with this cake--a little punch of party and away we go. Just remember to "throw" the sprinkles on (just place a cookie sheet underneath for the sprinkle-tossing), rather than press them in, or you will ruin your combed effect (also, the frosting will be much too soft, and it could create a messy situation for you). Deep, dark, moist, chocolatey, creamy, fudgey-but-not-dense, rich, and--oh!--crunchy . . . must of been a sprinkle ;). Before I go, guys, can we talk? I want to tell you that, even though I haven't been able to post as often as I wish I could, I am always here (literally--you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, etc.), and I try my best to bring you as many recipes as I can. I love blogging, I really do. As you know, over the last few years I have embarked upon a few exciting adventures (writing the book, starting the sprinkle shop, etc.), and I am trying to find my groove in terms of balancing it all. It hasn't been an easy task, but I work on this daily. At this point, I am still a one-woman show with 2 small cakelets and a marriage separation to adjust to, so even though I would give anything to blog, blog and blog some more, I haven't found the magic wand that will let me do it all (I am still determined to do so!). That all said, I think it's time to expand the Sweetapolita team, so I am confident 2016 will bring many an adventure and recipe for us all :). It's always meant a lot to me to have you guys here and to share these things with you, so thank you for understanding! xo Recipe update 02/01/16: I have sweetened up the recipe for the frosting, by increasing the confectioners' sugar.Sweetapolita's Notes:
Dark & Dreamy Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
3 layers of moist, dark-as-night chocolate "midnight "cake layers filled and frosted with a glossy, creamy and super-dark fudge frosting.
For the Midnight Cake Layers:
- 2 1/4 cups 285 g all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups 450 g superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar will work as well)
- 1 cup 120 g "black" unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Guittard Noir)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups 360 ml buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 cup 240 ml hot coffee
- 3/4 cup 180 ml vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey)
- 3 eggs (room temperature)
For the Dark Fudge Frosting:
- 2 1/4 cups 510 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups 180 g confectioners' sugar
- 3/4 cup 90 g premium dark (preferably black) cocoa powder (I used Guittard Noir)
- 1/2 cup 120 ml hot water
- 1/2 cup 120 ml sour cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey)
- Generous pinch of salt
- 10 ounces 290 g premium dark (but not extra dark) chocolate, chopped or chips, melted (I used Callebaut Callets)
- Handful of your favourite sprinkles (check out Birthday Party Sprinkle Medley)
- You will also need:
- 6 " pastry comb (I used this one)
- 1 large pastry bag (disposable or reusable)
- Large plain round pastry tip (I use Ateco #809)
For the Midnight Cake Layers:
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Spray the bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment rounds. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, black cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla, and then mix in eggs.
- Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter equally among the three cake pans or weigh for accuracy--each pan should weigh about 630 grams.
- Bake the first two layers until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with a only a few crumbs, about 23 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely. Repeat with the final cake layer. When ready to assemble the cake, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
For the Dark Fudge Frosting:
- In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Reduce to speed to low, and add the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, water, sour cream, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.
- Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Assembly of the Dark & Dreamy Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake:
- 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, if necessary. Refrigerate the cake until firm, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and place on a turntable, if using. 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. Remove the cake from the refrigerator again and cover with a thick, even layer of frosting. With the cake on the turntable, hold a pastry comb against the side of the cake with one hand and rotate the turntable once all the way around, in a fluid motion. (If you aren't pleased with the way it looks, you can apply more frosting and repeat.)
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip with the remaining frosting and pipe some buttercream "poofs" around the top perimeter of the cake by holding the bag, tip-down, directly above the spot you want the poof, squeeze the bag gently for about 2 seconds and then release and lift up and away. Repeat all of the way around the top of the cake.
- Adorn the bottom perimeter of the cake with your favourite sprinkles, if desired (but it's always desired, no?). I find it easiest to literally toss the sprinkles onto the cake, and they will stick. Check out Birthday Party, Bright Skies, or Flight of the Unicorn for some medley inspiration!
- The cake will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerated for up to 3 days. Best enjoyed at room temperature.
- As I mentioned above, for the black cocoa powder, I used Guittard Noir Cocoa Powder (I have this big tub because I go through it so fast), but you can also find Black Cocoa Powder on Amazon. You probably remember that I usually use a very dark (but not black) cocoa powder (Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder Extra Brute) for all of my chocolate baked goods, which also works very well, tastes amazing, and is quite dark in itself. The black cocoa powder just adds more of a midnight black effect, which I love. And, of course, the taste is also incredibly deep, dark and wonderful. And really, sometimes change is fun! :)
- I use Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Round Cake Pans for all of my cake layers, most often the 8-inch x 2-inch round pans.
- You certainly don't need to use a pastry comb to create this cake, but if you do, I recommend the taller version that Wilton offers. The cakes we make these days always tend to be on the tall side, so it really comes in handy when you want a tidy looking texture on the cake.
- For the poofs on top of the cake, remember that the key is very soft frosting and an extra large round plain tip (I used Ateco #809). And, as always, if you make a mistake or aren't totally pleased (who us?) with your poofs, you can simply remove it and do it again.