While I was home in Florida, my little brother, Thomas, had his thirteenth birthday. He’s officially a teenager! That absolutely blows my mind; I seriously feel like it was just yesterday that I was thirteen, but that was nine years ago!
Anyways, I wanted to bake him a cake for this special day, and even though upon bringing up the idea to him I was met with “but I hate cake…”, I refused to let it go, ha ha. You see, it is not very often that I have a *good* reason to bake something. Mostly, I just bake and bake and then I have no one to eat the results and they rot on the counter. So, when a *good* reason, like a birthday, comes around, you’re getting a dang cake!
This cake was absolutely scrumptious, but the real star was the mocha-mascarpone frosting. Oh. My. Gosh. that stuff was freakin’ delicious! I must have eaten 1/4 cup of it on its own while frosting the cake. And, though it looks nothing like the rich, dark color pictured in the original Bon Appetit recipe (as many other reviewers complained as well), the flavor was not at all lacking.
To be completely honest, the cake was nothing to jump for joy over. I mean, it was good- don’t get me wrong- but not “what-is-this-glorious-creation-in-my-mouth-that-sends-my-taste-buds-into-a-production-of-Swan-Lake-on-my-tongue”-good. The frosting, on the other hand is; so my proposition for you is, either make this cake (as it is still quite delicious and moist), or make your own favorite chocolate cake recipe, but top it with this amazing frosting. Heck, you could just make the frosting and eat it straight from the bowl if you’re not worried about appearing to be a complete lardy-lard to the rest of humanity- which I’m not… 😀
p.s.- I totally *would* apologize for the appearance of my cake, but I think it looks pretty great considering both layers completely crumbled and I somehow managed to still stack ’em and frost ’em. They aren’t kidding about that parchment paper you guys!
Also, once again I am going to have to ask you to look beyond the photo quality to the great recipe hidden by the harsh (or no) lighting and bizarre composition choices, hah.
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water
- 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 8-ounce containers mascarpone cheese, chilled
- chocolate curls for decoration (I just took a vegetable peeler to a white chocolate bar and a dark chocolate bar)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-ince cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar for about 4-5 minutes until creamy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Alternately add in the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Slowly add in the hot water/espresso and beat until just smooth.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake cakes for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes before removing them from the pans to cool completely. *You can bake the cakes a day ahead; just store in plastic wrap at room temperature.
- In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder and espresso powder. Set aside.
- Bring 1 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Slowly pour the hot cream over the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Add in the remaining cream and the sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the chilled cocoa mixture and the mascarpone cheese. Beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for about 2 minutes or until medium-firm peaks form when the whisk is lifted (don’t overbeat or it will curdle).
- Place the first cake layer onto your cake platter or serving tray. Top it with about 1 3/4 cups of the frosting. Spread the frosting to the edges. Top with the second cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (the crumb-coating), and refrigerate for about 10 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting over the cake and top with chocolate curls.