So Valentine's Day is coming up. Again. This will be my second Valentine's day alone, ever since I was old enough to know what it was and celebrate it. But this time, it's different because even though I'm not single, I'll be spending valentine's day with friends.. the problems of being in a long distance relationship. I'm actually quite excited to be doing so though, this year of studying abroad is turning out to be totally awesome! And I've never quite got the hate for the day. Single or not, I love the day, it's an excuse to eat more chocolate, everything is so pink and colorful, it's the BEST! Make this for your big day, whoever you might me celebrating it with. You'll get a lot more love for sure :)
This is the level of decorating I could manage with my hungry flatmates hovering about me. Even this was a bargain to be honest :)
I thought I'd make a simple chocolate cake for the day, since I'm not really celebrating, I wanted to keep the red and stuff to a minimum. And since I had an evening off, I just randomly made this cake I'd bookmarked long ago, mainly because it was the one that suited my ingredients in the fridge the best. I didn't have very high expectations, just thinking it'd be an ok, nice, normal chocolate cake. Especially considering the cake uses cocoa instead of chocolate. But this cake blew me away. It was gone within the hour, but I guess that's what happens when you're living in Uni. It was really really good, and super easy to make too.
The cake layers were extremely moist, the kinds you'll find at bakeries, and the egg yolk buttercream was super delicious, and since I'm not a fan of traditional buttercream, these SMBC sorts have become standard for me, and don't worry me anymore. I even made this one with just a hand mixer, I haven't bothered lugging Sir Mix a Lot all the way since it's just a year's course. And it's topped off with a standard ganache. All the components on their own are pretty standard, but they come together to make the awesome cake. I love coffee, so the espresso is a welcome addition too.
How to use a candy thermometer in a teeny tiny saucepan
Chocolate Cake with Espresso ButtercreamRecipe from Oprah.com via My Baking Addiction
For the cake -
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup very hot water
For the espresso buttercream -
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter , softened
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon very hot water
For the ganache -
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped (I used semisweet)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and diced
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Equipment needed -
Electric Mixer (Stand Mixer preferred)
- Preheat oven to 375 F [180 C]. Grease and line two 8 inch round pans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Stir well, and gradually incorporate into the flour mixture, until just mixed. Add the hot water, and stir till blended.
- Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 25 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on racks.
- Buttercream - In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks vigorously, about 5 minutes, until they become ribbon like and pale and fluffy. In the meanwhile, (or later if you can't manage both at the same time), combine the sugar and the water, and boil until mixture reaches 238 F on a candy thermometer.
- Once the sugar reaches the temperature, pour it in a slow steady stream into the yolks, with the mixer on, making sure to incorporate while pouring. Continue beating mixture until it comes down to room temperature and is light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
- Now begin adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. The mixture might curdle somewhere along the process, just continue beating till it comes together, and then go on with adding the butter, until it's all added. Dissolve the espresso powder in hot water, and beat into the buttercream. Set aside.
- Ganache - In a large bowl, combine the chopped chocolate and butter. In a smaller bowl, boil together the cream and sugar just until it boils, and immediately pour into the chocolate mixture. Stir until chocolate is completely smooth. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes so that it thickens slightly.
- Assembly - Remove parchment papers from the cake layers, and split into two using a large serrated knife. Alternately lay down the layers and the buttercream onto a cake plate, using 1/3rd of the buttercream each time. Make sure the topmost layer is an inverted one, so that the flat bottom appears on top of the cake, ensuring a nice even top.
- Pour ganache over the top, easing it a little to cover the sides. If entire cake has not been covered, gather up the fallen ganache, and pour again, until the cake is well covered.
- Refrigerate for about an hour, after which you can cut into slices with a clean, hot knife to serve.