I originally posted this recipe after helping my daughter Lauren make this cake for a dessert contest for employees of Neiman Marcus in Denver when she worked there in 2009. I had noticed the recipe in the April issue of Bon Appetit but knew I would have to make some revisions as it was a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and I’m not particularly fond of all chocolate anything, either in looks or taste. I modified the frosting to create a white chocolate version that I thought would be stunning with the addition of fresh fruit. For that event, Lauren made the cake and frosting herself, I simply assisted with the piping to finish it. I’ve made it myself since as cupcakes for a Chamber of Commerce event I hosted (oops, no photos!) and a fundraiser/cocktail party for Susan G. Komen when I took the photos for this post; there was a reason for so much pink! (2013 update; who could have imagined that Lauren would be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – thankfully has undergone treatment and is now considered cancer free!).
I have to share that it was special for Lauren to ask for my assistance. she had recently graduated from college; was in the midst of discovering real independence and determined to do everything on her own so having her ask for my help was huge and hearing her say, “Oh, I am so going to win.” was a nice compliment from her. Couldn’t guarantee that, but nice to hear anyhow!
I’ve made every birthday cake my girls have ever had. I’ve done gumdrop machines and ballerinas; watermelons and music notes, homemade German Chocolate cake and more… but I loved making this cake the best with that little girl I made those for. Discovering those commonalities is such a treasure as they discover who they are as individuals.
The cake is very good; moist and flavorful but I have to tell you… the frosting? In lexicon that might be overused but sometimes is just true…To. Die. For!
There is a continuing story since that first post and I think a fun one of how much Twitter can change your life. Come on…stop chuckling and read on. Please?
I made a Peppermint Meringue cake for Christmas year before last. I had noticed in the issue of Bon Appetit magazine that the recipe was from Abby Dodge. So I did a search, found her website and sent her a message telling her how much I loved it. I never expected to hear from her but I did and she was so sweet; even giving me some tips for ways to switch it up for other than a holiday cake. We ended up finding ourselves on Twitter and turns out…guess who also wrote this recipe for Bon Appetit? If you didn’t guess Abby Dodge; shame on you!!
Since then, I’ve become friends with Abby; she is warm, funny and approachable and makes me laugh. A lot. I did this post for Nutella Brownies from her new book Desserts 4 Today and talk about full circle…in my professional role as a web developer, I just recently completed her new website at www.abbydodge.com.
This is a holiday worthy recipe; it’s beautiful, festive, decadently good…from Easter to Christmas, it works for me!
A most decadent cake with rich chocolate cake layers surrounded by an even richer espresso mascarpone frosting.
For the Cake
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water (Available at my local Whole Foods; I used Medaglia D'oro)
For the Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1/3 cup white chocolate, grated
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 8-ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese
- Chocolate bar for shaving
- Raspberries - small container (Optional)
Prepare the Cake Layers:
- Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
- Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.
- Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.
- Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake, invert again so top side is up.
- Cool completely.
To Make the Frosting:
- Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over espresso, whisking until espresso is dissolved. Add grated white chocolate and stir until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Can be made one day ahead; cover and keep chilled.
- Add mascarpone to chilled mixture; Using electric mixer; beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle).
To Assemble the Cake:
- Brush crumbs from cakes. Place one cake layer, top side up, on platter. Spoon 1 3/4 cups frosting on top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges. Top with second layer, top side up. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill 10 minutes. Spread another layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Pipe frosting with star tip around base and outer edge of cake.
- If desired, mound fresh fruit in center of cake.
Protect any part of cake plate that you do not want chocolate shavings on (I use masking tape). Sprinkle chocolate around outer edge; letting some adhere to sides and fall to plate; sprinkle over cake top and fruit.
Cake can be made ahead. Wrap each layer in plastic and store at room temperature for completing the next day or freeze if using within a week.