As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did not host Thanksgiving. But, I was commissioned to help with dessert. There were going to be a few guests at Thanksgiving (I won’t name any names here and no it was not the children 🙂 ) that would not eat the delicious pear and cranberry tart that my mother-in-law was making or any other traditional Thanksgiving dessert. So, I decided to take on a chocolate layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Yes, non-traditional but soooo good!
I’ve made a layer cake before, but this time I attempted to do four layers and I went all out with decorating it. This chocolate cake recipe is super moist and the brewed coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor. I used the chocolate buttercream recipe from the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC. It is my go to chocolate frosting.
For the Chocolate Cake:
Adapted from Ina Garten, via foodnetwork.com
- Butter, for greasing the pans
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch x 2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Add the hot coffee and stir just to combine. Don’t be alarmed, the batter will be very liquidy. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
For Magnolia’s Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
The below recipe would probably be enough for a two layer cake, but since I was making four layers, I made 1.5x the recipe below. No one wants a cake with too little frosting 🙂
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low until a desired consistency is reached. If you refrigerate overnight, make sure it is at room temperature before frosting the cake to avoid creating crumbs.
Now for the fun part!…The Assembly:
I baked the cake the night before, covered with plastic wrap and stored it at room temperature overnight. Then, I made the frosting, assembled and frosted the cake the following evening.
I went to work the day after baking the cake and started to get stressed out about how to cut the cake layers in half without completely destroying them. In order to make a two layer cake into a four layer cake I cut each layer in half using Wilton’s Small Cake Leveler. It is a great baking tool that I did not know existed until now. It made it so easy to get a straight cut and no cake was wasted in the process!
Once the layers were cut, I placed a small dab of frosting on a 12 inch cake cardboard round and placed the first layer on top. This helps the cake from moving while you are assembling and decorating. I also placed some parchment paper around the edges of the cake to keep the cardboard round clean while frosting. Then I began frosting the top of the layer, moving from the middle of the cake to the edges. Repeat these steps for each of the layers. Once the cake is topped off with the final layer of cake, I added the top layer of frosting and then moved on to frosting the sides of the cake.
For the decorations, I added some mini chocolate chips to the sides of the cake. Once I was done frosting the cake and adding the chocolate chips, I removed the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and magically the mess I made disappeared! I finished the cake off with some decorative edges using a star frosting tip along the bottom and top edges of the cake. Hint: This hides some of the mistakes you made frosting the edges. And, to make my non-traditional Thanksgiving dessert somewhat festive, I topped it with a hand-turkey decoration!