When it comes to celebrating special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays or weddings, we do so with cake. When asked to name a favorite cake flavor, more often than not people say Chocolate Cake. Hubby’s favorite is marble, so that’s sort of chocolate. I like a French Vanilla Cake best.
Growing up, chocolate cake was everyday dessert while vanilla cakes were reserved for special occasions. However; I can tell you our everyday chocolate cake wasn’t layers of fillings or Ganache or sinfully decadent. I say if we are going to celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day, then let’s go all out.
Midnight Chocolate Cake with Frangelico Mousse
2-3/4 cups Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup boiling Water
1 cup Canola Oil
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Instant Espresso Powder
1-3/4 cups Cake Flour, spooned and leveled
4 large Egg Yolks
2 large Whole Eggs
1/4 cup Buttermilk
Place the rack in the lower third of the oven. If you have a baking stone, place that on the rack. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray either two 9-inch or two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray. Line the pans with parchment paper including sides and bottom. Spray paper with non-stick spray and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, Dutch processed cocoa, salt and baking soda. Stir with a whisk until combined and then slowly add the boiling water while whisking. This will bubble up a bit while the baking soda reacts with any remaining acidity in the Dutch processed cocoa. Once thoroughly mixed, place the sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring back to a boil. Then remove from heat and allow to stand for a minimum of 10 minutes. This step makes the Dutch processed cocoa even more alkaline, so our cake will be nearly black.
While waiting for the cocoa mixture to process, measure out the flour, buttermilk, and separate the eggs. Add the oil and vanilla to the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
When the chocolate mixture is ready, stir in the instant espresso powder. Add the chocolate mixture to the stand mixer and mix on low speed for about 20 seconds. Add the flour and continue to mix on low until combined. With a minimum amount of beating, add the egg yolks, whole eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. The batter will be very thin.
Divide the batter between your two pans. Place pans directly on the baking stone, if you are using, or on the rack. Bake 9-inch cakes for for 25-30 minutes, 8-inch cakes for 30 to 32 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when you touch it.
Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack while still in the pans. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake to loosen and invert onto a flat dish lined with parchment.
Let the cakes cool completely then wrap the rounds individually in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill before assembling.
Note: If the cakes were baked on a stone, there should be no crown. If the cakes have domed, slice the tops to level the cakes before assembling.
Dark Frangelico Mousse
8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (preferably 66% cacao)
5 large Egg Yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
1 cup Heavy Cream, chilled
Place mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer to chill.
Finely chop chocolate, set aside until ready to use. Separate eggs, reserve whites for another purpose.
In a heat safe bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is uniform and light in color. Place over a double boiler and whisk until slightly thickened. (A ribbon of the egg sugar mixture should flow back into the bowl when the whisk is lifted and the sugar should just be beginning to dissolve).
Add the Frangelico, continue to whisk over the simmering water until the mixture reaches roughly 160 degrees. It should coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and add the finely chopped chocolate. Stir until the mixture becomes cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.
Set the chocolate aside.
In the chilled bowl with chilled whisk, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the chocolate. Cover and chill for 4 hours.
To assemble the cake: Place bottom layer of the cake on a serving platter or cake plate. Reserve 3/4 cup of the mousse as a garnish, keep refrigerated.
Spread remaining mousse over the top of the bottom cake layer, smooth out the mousse with a spatula. Top with remaining cake. Touch up as needed with an off-set spatula. Place the cake in refrigerator to chill while the ganache is made.
1 cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon Salted Butter
Coarsely chop the chocolate chips and place in a bowl.
In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream and butter to a low boil over medium-high heat. Once heated, pour the cream mixture over the chocolate. Give the bowl a good shake to submerge all the chips. Allow to stand for 5 minutes without stirring for the chocolate to naturally melt.
Once melted, gently stir the ganache until smooth. Carefully pour the ganache onto the center of the cake, smoothing over the top with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill so the ganache will set.
Finishing Touches: Once the ganache has set, place the reserved mousse into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe 6 to 8 Mousse Stars around the top edge of the cake. If desired, place a chocolate covered espresso bean on top of the star or chocolate shavings or other candy decorations.