Chocolate Chunk & Coffee Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Four cakes are going to be on a table this day, and you can be sure there will be one chocolate cake among them all. Right on! But in no way should I resign myself to the tried and true, the fail-safe, the fool-proof Devil's Food Cake, should I? Oh gosh, no! Life would be utterly boring. Even the best chocolate cakes would cause one's palates to become immune to its pleasures if it were to be served on one too many occasions. Hence the chocolate chocolate chunk coffee cake.

Tedious and tongue twisting the name may be, it does give a comprehensive description of the delight to follow. The cake is essentially a chocolate cake, we got that. Then there's chocolate chunk, mind you, not those over-processed chips that contain stuff we do not need, rather chunks dark (over 70%) good quality chocolate, good enough to gift, good enough to pair with wine. Yes, that good, the stuff that is about four or five times the price of generic chocolate. Trust me on this! It is a birthday cake, go ahead, you can splurge!

Then I included the word coffee, and not in the sense that it's an afternoon tea accompaniment, but actually using espresso powder and coffee stout in the cake. Why? Because coffee intensifies the chocolate flavour like no other. Then there's a secret ingredient! You can scroll down to the recipe to find it, but don't turn up your nose just yet! It's egg content and emulsifying properties lend so much richness to the cake and rounds it off nicely.

This recipe is adapted from Tasty's Ultimate Chocolate cake, and true to their word, it is an ultimate version of your home-made chocolate cake. I amped it up with Kahlua to bring out the coffee even more, made a cake syrup to intensify the chocolate flavour, then frosted it with my favorite buttercream - Italian meringue, chocolatized! Yes, it's now an official word. I just submitted it to Oxford English Dictionary. And yes, you can do that! I just did! :D

So then what does one call a cake that's more than Ultimate? Rather than calling it Supreme or Superlative Chocolate Cake, which could be just click-bait, how about Chocolate Chunk & Coffee Cake with Chocolate Buttercream? Now you're really salivating, aren't you? ;)


A) Godiva liqueur cake syrup:
240 ml (1 cup) water
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
30 ml (1/8 cup) Godiva Chocolate liqueur

B) Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake:
225 g (1-7/8 cups) all purpose flour
150 g (1-1/4 cups) Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
450 ml (1-7/8 cups) coffee stout
1-1/2 tbsp Kahlua coffee liqueur
1-1/2 tbsp espresso powder
285 g (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
375 g (1-7/8 cups) granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
150 ml (5/8 cup) mayonnaise
170 g (6 oz.) dark chocolate (from a chocolate bar), chopped

C) Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream
425 g (2 cups + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
90 ml (3/8 cup) water
6 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
510 g unsalted butter, just slightly softened, cut into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) cubes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
60 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted


A) Godiva liqueur cake syrup:
1. In a small saucepan, place the water and sugar.
2. Bring to a boil, then set aside to cool.
3. When cooled, stir in the Godiva chocolate liqueur.

B) Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake:
1. Butter and flour the sides of 3 20-cm (8-inch) round cake tins, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 160C or 325F.

3. Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the coffee stout, Kahlua, and espresso powder. Leave to rest. Before using, whisk again, then strain this mixture into another bowl.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium high speed, cream the butter and sugar until lightened in colour and becomes fluffy.
6. Reduce the speed to medium, then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed.
7. Add the mayo and continue to beat for a minute.
8. Reduce the speed to medium low, then alternate adding the flour (in 3 batches) and the strained stout mixture (in 2 batches).
9. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
10. Give it a good mix with a spatula before dividing the batter between the 3 prepared tins.
11. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until a skewer pierced in the center of the cake comes out clean.

12. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack.
13. When cooled, level the tops with a serrated knife or a cake leveler.
14. Brush with the prepared Godiva liqueur cake syrup.

C) Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream:
1. In a small saucepan, start heating the sugar and water. Have an infrared (or candy) thermometer ready.
2. In a clean and dry bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed.
3. As soon as the egg whites turn foamy, add the cream of tartar. Keep whisking the egg whites until you get to the soft peak stage.

4. Keep an eye on the sugar syrup, as soon as it hits 112 - 115C or 235 - 240F, turn the heat off and VERY VERY CAREFULLY pour the syrup into the running mixing bowl, trickling it down the sides of the bowl. (You do not want to pour it into the whisking area because it will splatter and burn you!)
5. Keep whisking until you get a voluminous white meringue.
6. The bowl will get hot, at which point you want to cool it off with damp cold kitchen towels. You can stop whisking at this point long enough to place a larger bowl with ice and/or cold water under the mixing bowl to help it cool quicker.
7. As soon as the meringue reads 39 - 40C or 102 - 104F, switch the whisk attachment with the beater attachment, then start beating on medium speed.

8. Add the butter, a cube at a time, in about 5 second increments, the buttercream will start coming together after 2/3 of the butter is added. Continue adding the butter until depleted.
9. Reduce speed to low, then add the vanilla extract and fold in the cocoa powder, beat for 2 - 3 minutes until there are no more visible streaks of cocoa powder.

The buttercream will keep at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days in maximum 25C weather. Otherwise you will need to refrigerate it.

If your buttercream is curdling, or you see water is separating from the butter, the mixture is too cold. Warm the bowl by placing hot towels around the bowl.
If your buttercream isn't coming together, or still watery, it may be too warm. Cool the mixing bowl by wrapping it in cold kitchen towels. Continue to beat until desired consistency is reached.


Now that we have our buttercream ready and at room temperature, and our cakes leveled and brushed with syrup, we can continue to assemble them. Make sure your cake board, turntable, offset spatulas, leveler, and a large cookie scooper is also on hand.

1. Check all the layers and choose the best one for the top of the cake. We are looking to place the bottom side up for the top-most layer.
2. Place a small smear of buttercream on a cake board, then place a layer, bottom side down, centering it as best you can.
3. Using a cookie scooper, scoop about 1 cup of buttercream on top of the layer, leveling it as evenly as possible.

4. Repeat with the second layer, this time you may choose to place it either side down, it doesn't really matter, just that it is infinitely easier to spread buttercream on a more level surface without picking up crumbs.
5. For the top layer, place it bottom side up.
6. Continue to crumb coat the whole cake, then refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes to set and harden the buttercream.
7. Frost the whole cake and decorate as desired.

So ... remember those four cakes I was talking about earlier? No joke, here they are ..

From left to right:
Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
Lavender Elderflower Cake with Elderflower Buttercream
Kahlua Coffee Cake with Coffee Buttercream
Vegan Cookie Butter Cake with Bacardi Buttercream

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