Chocolate Buttercrunch Cake
Chocolate buttercrunch cake, where have you been all of these months? Or more correctly where has chocolate cake—in any form—been? It has been a disgustingly long time since I posted a chocolate cake. December? January? That’s bad, that’s real bad.
This cake makes up for the long chocolate cake dry spell! At least that’s my Hammerabi eye-for-an-eye logic. Roll with it.
I am partial to my boiled water and oil based chocolate cakes. Time and again, these chocolate cakes produce a moist, fudgey, and very chocolately crumb. Yet this time around I wanted to try a butter-based chocolate cake. Notorious to drying out, I always skip chocolate cake recipes that use butter as the only fat. If I were to try out a chocolate cake, I decided to go to Cooks Illustrated whose All-Time Best Chocolate edition magazine featured a classic chocolate layer cake. Their use of unsweetened chocolate, Dutch processed cocoa, and hot water to make a “pudding” bloomed the chocolate flavors, yielding a rich chocolate cake that isn’t dry.
To make this Chocolate buttercrunch cake buttercrunch-y, I incorporated buttercrunch into the whipped mascarpone filling and placed it on top of the cake for garnish. I know it’s not over-the-top butter crunch impact. However, the brittle texture of the buttercrunch contrasts nicely against the smooth consistences of the cake, frosting, and filling.
The best part about this chocolate buttercrunch cake is the filling. I love this filling, you can tell. Originally the filling calls for macerated raspberries and raspberry preserves but it is extremely versatile. Whipped cream, whipped mascarpone, and vanilla—seriously, this base is ready to any sort of variations. I’m certain the filling would taste good with seasonal blueberries or blackberries…maybe even lemon curd and poppy seeds. Chocolate buttercream frostings do have the tendency to taste like sugar and nothing else. You won’t find that to be the case with this frosting. The touch of salt and different percentages of chocolates make for a deep floral chocolate flavor.
- For the Classic Chocolate Cake:
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and then brought to room temperature
- For the Whipped Buttercrunch Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttercrunch, finely chopped
- For the Chocolate Frosting:
- 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with baking spray, set aside.
- Make a double boiler by putting the chopped chocolate, water, and cocoa powder in a heat proof bowl resting over a saucepan that has 1-inch of water simmering inside. Make sure that the water does not touch the heat proof bowl.
- Use a rubber spatula to melt the three ingredients, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 CUP of the sugar until the mixture becomes thick and glossy. Remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Measure out the buttermilk, add the vanilla to the buttermilk and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whisk the eggs and egg yolks on a medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Add in the remaining 1 1/4 CUP of sugar. Raise the speed to high and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg sugar mixture. Beat on a medium speed until well combined, about 30 to 50 seconds.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, beating each time for about 10 seconds.
- Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 additions. Mix until just incorporated after each addition. Scrape the bowl down as needed.
- Once the ingredients are added lower the the speed to medium-low and beat the mixture until completely combined. Give the batter a final stir by hand.
- Pour the batter evenly between the three pans, smoothing the tops with an off-set spatula. Bake until a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs, rotating half way, about 22 to 27 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let the layers cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, invert the layer directly onto the wire rack and let them cool completely before filling and frosting.
- Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip cream and 1/3 cup of the sugar until stiff peaks form, set aside
- In a large bowl combine the mascarpone and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, add vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined
- Fold the cheese mixture into the whipped cream mixture. Finally, fold in the chopped buttercrunch
- Store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed on top until the cake is ready to be assembled
- In a large bowl sift together the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or very gently in a microwave in 15 second intervals. Once melted, set aside to cool.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter, espresso powder, vanilla extract, and salt on a medium high speed, until fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the bowl down as needed.
- Reduce the speed to low, and slowly stream in the cooled chocolate. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for another minute until homogeneous. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- On a low speed slowly add sifted powdered sugar and and cocoa alternating with a tablespoon of cream if it appears too thick. Start by adding 2 tablespoons, increase if the frosting appears to be very thick or stiff.
- Level off the cakes so each layer is flat.
- Frost each layer with the a ring of chocolate frosting, creating a moat to contain the filling. Spoon in the filling and stack the next layer on top. Repeat with the second layer.
- Do a light crumb coating on the outside of the cake and let the cake chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Frost the cake with a final coat of frosting. Let the cake chill for a final 15 minutes.
- Decorate with more buttercrunch.