My New Cake Crush: Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Earlier this week I made a few cakes for a retirement party, and out of the three new cake recipes I tried, one truly blew me away -- the three-tiered beauty of a chocolate cake with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache from Baked Explorations. One of the the party organizers had asked me to make a sheet cake, but I decided to go the layer cake route, since I always think that layer cakes are more festive. Maybe it's just me, but when I see a sheet cake, I think "grocery store bakery," but when I see a layer cake, I think "special occasion."

The "classic chocolate cake" for the recipe is made with butter, shortening, sugar, dark brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, sour cream, and water. You divide the batter into three 8-inch pans for baking. When the cake is cooled, you level the layers and then fill and frost the cake with a coffee buttercream. This buttercream is typical of those from Baked; the base is made from flour, sugar, cream, and milk that you heat on the stove until the mixture boils and thickens. You beat the resulting mixture until it's cooled, and then incorporate softened butter and flavoring (in this case, vanilla extract and coffee extract). The buttercream ended up the light brown color of a latte, due to the large amount (3 tablespoons) of coffee extract.

After you frost the cake, you top it off with a layer of chocolate ganache, made from dark chocolate, butter, and corn syrup. The recipe makes a lot of ganache, such that even though I poured on several coats, letting drips fall over the sides (the method specified in the recipe), I had more than I could possibly have used. The final touches were a ring of chocolate-covered espresso beans on top and some chocolate sprinkles around the bottom outer edge.

Even though it's only eight inches in diameter, this cake is huge. Like the Baked Explorations Caramel Apple Cake, the fact that it's three layers makes it very tall -- about 5 and 1/4 inches with the espresso beans, which means it won't quite fit into one of my standard cake boxes, which are only 5-inches tall. The cake was also quite heavy. Out of curiosity, I put the finished cake on a scale, and it came in at 5 lbs., 14.75 ounces.

I really wish I had a picture of the sliced cake; it was just gorgeous. And this cake tastes every bit as good as it looks. The chocolate cake is insanely good -- very moist, tender, and light, yet deeply chocolatey. Since the cake has a lot of cocoa powder in it (3/4 cup) and I used a mix of dutch and black cocoa that has a very dark color, the cake was also very dark, essentially the same color as the chocolate ganache on top. And the buttercream? Awesome. I was surprised at how the coffee flavor was so lovely and didn't overwhelm the cake at all. The cooked Baked buttercreams have a lusciously rich, yet perfectly smooth and non-greasy texture that is absolute perfection. And the flavor combination of the chocolate cake with the coffee buttercream was heavenly. The chocolate ganache on top was not necessary, but a nice bonus.

As one of the party guests so aptly put it, the cake is "killer."  It's also on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule for March 25, 2012 -- but I don't think I'm going to wait that long before making this glorious cake again!

Recipe: "Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache," from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.


Louise said…
This cake looks terrific. Makes me hungry for chocolate layer cake. :-)
Susan said…
I made this cake for my husband's birthday in July. I thought the chocolate cake was the best I'd ever had. Yours looks absolutely professional!
Bourbonnatrix said…
ooh! looks perfect! can't wait to make it in march!
Bourbonnatrix said…
ok, since you made the chocolate cake twice in the span of a few weeks, i decided to use it instead of my usual chocolate cake recipe. did you actually have to level it off? i'm wondering if i did something wrong. baked it in 9 inch pans instead of 8 inch pans, so obviously, the layers aren't as tall, but it seems it didn't rise very much, and very flat (no dome at all). and when i turned it out to cool, the middle kinda sank a bit (not like uncooked middle sinking, but still) seems like it doesn't have much structure. any ideas?
@Bourbonnatrix -- my cakes domed just a bit and I had to level the layers a just little (probably less than 1/4 inch). I did notice that there was a slight dip in the center of each layer after cooling, and the center was quite tender -- although the dip was not lower than the edges. I used light-colored, 8-inch diameter, 2-inch high pans, and during baking, the cakes rose right up to the tops of the pans, and then sank a bit upon cooling.

Since you are such an amazing baker, I can't imagine you did anything wrong -- maybe just one of the inexplicable baking flukes?
Dmarie said…
oh, wow, every single picture is drool worthy. thanks for sharing!