I can’t even begin to describe how nice it feels to finally be back in the kitchen baking. It seems like it’s been much longer than five months since I’ve last blogged. Although I haven’t been able to bake the past few months, it certainly hasn’t stopped me from coming up with big long lists of everything I want to make in the coming months. I just hope I’ll have the time to do everything. So, for my first time jumping back into blogging I made a layer cake. Recently I discovered the magic of swiss meringue buttercream and felt I had to spread the news. I’m actually quite embarrassed it’s taken me this long to make swiss meringue buttercream. I’ve heard of it plenty of times before, but didn’t think to make it since my own original buttercream frosting was so popular. Well I was so so wrong. Swiss meringue buttercream is one million times better, It’s impossibly light and fluffy but still has a delicious rich buttery flavor. It’s slightly more labor intensive, since you have to cook the egg whites, but completely worth it.
The buttercream is flavored with hazelnut extract and smooth dark chocolate. It covers three layers of dark chocolate cake that’s also equally as delicious. The cake is actually a recipe from Sprinkle Bakes, a blog that I go to often for inspiration. She has lots of fabulous recipes and tons of different types of cakes. It’s rich without being heavy, and you can use whatever type of chocolate you’d like, it doesn’t have to be dark. I used 4oz of a 60% bar and the other 4oz were a 70% bar.
I chose to garnish with chocolate shards, which are a really easy, and impressive decoration you can make in no time. Just make sure you know how to properly temper chocolate. After the chocolate is tempered spread it onto wax paper or a silpat, but make sure you don’t spread it too thin. Once it has cooled and hardened you can just snap it and break it into different sized shapes.
Dark Chocolate Cake
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup/216 g butter, softened
2 cups/440 g light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups/380 g all-purpose flour
1/4 cup/30 g dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup/121 g buttermilk
1 cup/235 ml piping hot water
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease three 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, or melt in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl at 30 second intervals. Set aside.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating each until just incorporated. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt; add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. With the mixer running, gradually add in the hot water. Mix until the batter in consistent (batter will be thin).
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove cakes from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Chocolate Hazelnut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Place the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk, continuously, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture looks opaque.
Remove the bowl from the heat, add vanilla, and whip on high speed until completely cooled.
Whip in the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until thick and fluffy. If it begins to look curdled, continue to whip until it comes back together, before adding in remaining butter.
Fold in the melted chocolate.