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Mocha Crunch Cake

The cake itself is light, moist, deeply chocolatey. An excellent crumb.  Really, the best texture I’ve ever gotten from a chocolate cake recipe, except for this one. It’s perfect. The cake is enveloped in a  buttercream that is deceptively light and almost mousse-like with a great balance of sweet coffee and chocolate flavor. I chose to press chopped toffee into the sides of the cake because, to me, the flavor of toffee has always been a perfect compliment to chocolate and coffee, and it adds a nice contrast of texture to the bite. Finally, I eventually began smothering the whole finished cake in ganache to make it more visually appealing and to intensify the chocolate flavor. It is an immensely pleasurable treat that can be dangerous because it doesn’t feel fattening when it’s in your mouth and it’s easy to overindulge because it is so light.  Do not be decieved!

Recipe & Photo Courtesy of Veronica of Veronica's Cornucopia


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Prep Time: 60 | Cook Time: 35 | Ready In: 90
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Cake

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 ¼ cups warm water
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mocha Buttercream

  • ¼ cup Kahlua
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
  • 10 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter

Ganache

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Additional

  • 1-1  ½ cups toffee bits
  • 2 toffee candy bars (such as Heath)

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Cooking Process:

Make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, making sure the baking rack is in the middle of the oven. Prepare two 9” round cake pans by cutting out a piece of parchment or wax paper to line the bottom of them. Grease the pans, place the parchment or wax paper in the bottoms and lightly grease again. Dust the pans with flour (or cocoa powder if you don’t want the white dusting on the finished cakes). Set the pans aside.

Sift together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs, yolk, warm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 32-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Remove the pans from the oven and set the pans on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Gently run a thin knife around the edges of the pans and unmold the cakes, removing the parchment paper liners from the bottom of the cakes. Let them cool completely, top sides ups, on a wire rack.  Trim the tops of the cake layers with a long serrated knife to make them level.

Make the buttercream:

Put Kahlua in a microwave safe dish and heat until boiling.  Remove and add instant coffee.  Mixture will immediately boil up high and once it goes back down, gently stir it until the coffee is dissolved.  Set aside to come to room temperature.  Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe dish and heat for 30 seconds and stir.  Continue heating in 15-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is almost melted.  Stir and allow the residual heat to melt it completely.  Set aside and allow to come to room temperature.

Beat the egg yolks until light and mixer blades make tracks in them.  Spray a 1-cup glass measure with cooking spray and set beside the stove.  Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a full rolling boil.  Immediately remove from heat and pour into the prepared measuring cup to stop the cooking.  While mixer is running, pour the syrup in a steady stream into the egg yolks, careful not to pour it onto the beaters.  Continue beating until mixture is room temperature.  Beat the butter in a small bowl until fluffy, then begin adding it to the egg mixture a tablespoon or two at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.  Once the chocolate is cooled, turn the mixer back on and add the chocolate to the buttercream, beating until smooth.  Add the cooled Kahlua mixture and beat until uniform & smooth.

Make the ganache:

Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe dish and heat for a minute; stir.  Continue heating in 15-30 second intervals until the chocolate emulsifies and the mixture is shiny, dark, uniform, and smooth.  Allow to come to room temperature.

Assemble:

Place one cake layer on plate and spread about 1 cup of mocha buttercream over the top.  Put second cake layer on top and frost the top and sides with the remaining buttercream.  Take handfuls of toffee bits and press them into the sides of the cake.  Chop the candy bars into four pieces each and place with a pointed side up around the edge of the cake.  Slowly pour the cooled ganache over the top of the cake and use a spatula to spread to the edges so that it will ooze out between the candy bars and down the sides a little.  Sprinkle some toffee bits in the middle of the cake.  Serve at room temperature.

Veronica’s notes: As many people have had trouble with the cake batter overflowing the pans during baking, I recommend you do what I did and only fill your pans 1/2-2/3 full and use the extra batter for cupcakes.

Recipe by Veronica Miller, with help from this recipe, and The Cake Bible.

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