chocolate layer cake with swiss buttercream frosting

chocolate genoise layer cake with raspberry swiss buttercream frosting

Genoise cakes are one of my all time favorites when it comes to baking a fancy dessert cake especially those that get iced. They don't crack and rise evenly without any crazy issues and there is something magical about the sponge texture of these cakes. More than anything, it has taught me patience, something I always need help with. 

genoise cakes

This weekend we celebrated our friends' upcoming marriage with a stock-the-bar party. They both love chocolate, so I figured it might be fun to make them a chocolate cake with a hint of raspberry. The cake itself is light and the Swiss buttercream frosting is not too sweet making it a good choice for a brunch dessert. this way the possibility of food-induced coma is reduced.

frosting the cake

I prefer to make two separate cakes here rather than do it all in one sitting. It is easier to fold less flour into the egg mixture and the risk of deflating the eggs gets reduced. I topped the frosting with a few shavings of sweet dark chocolate to balance the flavor of the frosting and give it a little richer look. You can leave the food color out or adjust the amount you need to get the desired level of color you like.

chocolate genoise layer cake

Both the cake and buttercream frosting recipes have been modified and adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carole Walter. 

layer cake

Note: Prepare two genoise cakes separately. Instead of doubling the amount of ingredients required for the cakes, I find it easier to prepare two separate cakes especially when it comes to the folding of the dry ingredients into the batter.

chocolate genoise cake 

yields: 10 1/2" X 15 1/2' X 1" thick cake 

ingredients

3/4 cup ( 3 3/4 ounces) cake flour
1/3 cup (7/8 ounce) dutch-process cocoa
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
5 large whole eggs + 2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup+2 tablespoons (6 1/4 ounces) sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1 7/8 ounces) butter, melted and warm

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper. 
2. Sift the cake flour, cocoa and baking soda together 4 times and place aside.
3. Place the bowl of an electric mixer over a saucepan containing simmering water. The water must not touch the base of the bowl. Add the eggs and yolks with the sugar and whisk to blend completely. This will take about 4 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and the color of the mixture becomes a dark gold. 
4. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and using the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 5-6 minutes until tripled in volume and the mix becomes light and foamy. At this point, you should able to draw a ribbon that will hold its shape on the foam. 
5. Add the vanilla from the side of the bowl and whip for another 2 minutes. 
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift 2-3 tablespoons of the pre-sifted flour mix over the whipped eggs and fold it in with a silicone spatula using a circular motion taking care to reach the bottom of the bowl. The foam will deflate a little and there is no need to try and incorporate all the flour at this stage,  it will be mixed in completely at the end.
7.  Just before the addition of the last bit of flour, drizzle the warm, melted butter over the batter and quickly sift the rest of the flour mix over the batter. Fold into the batter completely within 30 seconds. 
8. Using the rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared baking pan. Leave behind any residual flour or butter that might be stuck at the bottom of the bowl or this will prevent the cake from rising evenly. 
9. Gently tap the pan to remove any trapped air bubbles and bake it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The cake is completely baked when the center of the cake when pressed springs back. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Spray a cooling wire rack with nonstick cooking spray oil, run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it and flip the cake over the wire rack. Allow to cool completely before icing.

swiss buttercream frosting

yields: about 3 1/2 cups

ingredients

4 large egg whites
3/4 cup (4 1/4 ounces) confectioner's sugar
3 sticks(1 1/2 cups  or 12 1/8ounces) unsalted butter, soft but slightly firm to touch
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 drops red food coloring (optional, you can adjust the amount to get the desired level of pink color you desire)

1. Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until the eggs get foamy. 
2. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. The water should not touch the base of the bowl. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time to the eggs and continue to whisk for about 30 seconds for each addition. Continue whisking the egg whites for 3 minutes, the whites will begin to warm up and the entire mixture will become white and thick. 
3. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and place it under the electric mixer.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture for 8 minutes at medium-high speed to form a thick white meringue-like mixture. Set aside.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter for 1 minute with an electric mixer. (I used a handheld mixer for this but if you have another mixing bowl for your stand mixer, you can use the paddle attachment at medium-low speed). The butter should be soft but not warm. Keep aside.
5. Using the whisk attachment of you stand mixer, beat in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time into the egg mixture, about one minute for each addition.
6. Add the raspberry liqueur, the vanilla, and the food coloring and beat for 1 minute until thick and creamy. Cover the frosting with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes before use. 

raspberry syrup

yields: about 3/4 cup

ingredients

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture reduces to half its volume. 
2. Cool and refrigerate completely before use.

Assembling the cake

ingredients

1 cup dark chocolate shavings

1. Place the two cooled cakes over each other with the top side of each cake facing downwards on flat plate or cake board. This top crust creates a good support for the cake structure. With a sharp serrated knife trim the edges of the cakes. With the knife, make a small notch on one side of both cakes, this will help with aligning the cakes later.
2. Carefully remove the top cake layer and place aside.  
3. Start working with the lower cake layer. With a brush, spread half of the raspberry syrup over the cake. 
4. Layer the surface with a thin crumb coat of the frosting. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to harden the crumb coat.
5. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread 1 cup of frosting in an even layer using an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and let it chill for 20 minutes. 
6. Place and align the second cake layer on top of the chilled frosted layer of the bottom cake layer, using the notches created earlier to correctly align the cakes. The bottom of the second cake layer should face the frosting of the first cake layer.
7. Brush the rest of the raspberry syrup over the upper layer. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes. Spread a thin crumb coat of frosting on top of the cake and refrigerate for another 15 minutes. Carefully spread out the rest of the frosting in an even layer on the top surface of the chilled cake with the offset spatula. 
8. Generously sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the cake and refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. To get clean even cake slices, place a sharp serrated knife under running hot tap water, wipe the blade with a clean towel and cut the slice. Repeat this for each cake slice, this will prevent any crumbs from sticking to the frosting and it will ensure a clean cut.

ruffled blueberry chocolate cake


Last weekend we drove to Virginia to visit the Fall Harvest festival at Mount Rogers. Fall is is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit the Virginia outdoors and enjoy the beautiful colorful foliage. I was very lucky on this trip, for many, many reasons. I got to see sugarcane being harvested and squeezed for its sweet juice. I watched molasses being prepared from the sugarcane juice over a hot stove. The molasses are sold in pint jars to raise money for the local fireman's station. A worthy cause indeed! I tasted my first hobo pie, picked up some homemade apple butter, ate ripe and juicy red apples off a tree. There was just so much to do and too much to squeeze in a short two day trip. 


Unlike D.C. where it is currently still relatively green, the Virginia fall is in full swing. It was also pretty chilly in the evenings but nevertheless breathtaking. I couldn't wait to share these photographs with you and I do hope you enjoy them!


I got to bite and chew on fresh sugarcane and sampled their sticky sweetness. The sugarcane juice brought back sweet memories of India. As kids growing up, we would always run out to the vendors on the street in the Bombay and wait eagerly while they ground the juices out of sugarcane and fresh ginger into glasses heaped with ice. It was so refreshing and simple but yet delicious.


Last weekend was also the birthday of one of my friends, Walt. Birthdays and special events are probably the only few times that I will actually venture out in making a cake that is rich and decadent. It turns out that Walt loves blueberries and any cake that incorporated blueberries would be perfect for him. In my personal opinion however, birthday cakes should have some amount of chocolate. After all, it is that a special moment where things should be a little over the top. In preparation for Walt's cake, I made the blueberry and chocolate jam. I designed his birthday cake completely around these two ingredients. Genoise chocolate cakes are layered and sandwiched with the jam and lightly drenched with a blueberry-white wine syrup. I then used a vanilla flavored buttercream icing that was spiked with a little creme fraiche to keep things simple yet rich. On how to decorate the cake with the ruffles, I used this icing idea from Martha Stewart.


ruffled blueberry chocolate cake

ingredients

for the chocolate cake  follow this chocolate genoise sponge cake recipe. I made two 9 inch cakes, sliced each in half, and then layered them. If you want more cake layers you can either increase the number of cakes or cut thinner layers of the cakes. If you do this, then you should increase the amount of jam, syrup, and icing accordingly.

for the blueberry chocolate jam follow this recipe. You will need 1 and 1/2 cups of the jam. You can use less if you prefer the cake to be a little less sweet.

blueberry wine syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup white wine like Reisling or Chardonnay (I used the Pearmund Reisling 2011)
1 cup sugar

Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Cook on a medium flame till the sugar dissolves completely. Bring to a boil and then cool to room temperature before use. You can also refrigerate this and prepare it at least 3 days in advance.

buttercream icing

2 cups unsalted sweetcream butter at room temperature
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
10 drops of blue food coloring ( you may need more depending on how blue you want the icing to look)
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
No. 104 icing tip

Chop the butter into small cubes and place it in the bowl of an electric blender. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and creme fraiche at a medium speed for about 6 minutes till it is completely smooth. Sift the sugar once onto a sheet of parchment paper. Sift the sugar into the butter in 1/2 cup installments till completely mixed in with the butter. The butter will keep getting lighter as more air is incorporated into it. Add the vanilla, salt, and food coloring at the end and beat for another two minutes. Transfer the icing into a bowl (preferably metal as it will chill faster) and cover with cling film until ready to use. You can make the icing at least two to three days in advance. 

Assembling the cake
Slice each cooled cake in half with a serrated knife and keep aside. Cut out a 10" circle of cardboard and cover with a clean sheet of aluminum foil and two 12 inch X 2 inch strips of parchment paper. Place the two strips about 2 or 3 inches apart from each other on the smooth side of the aluminum covered cardboard circle. Add a tablespoon of the frosting in the center of the aluminum covered cardboard sheet. This will help to glue the cake down to the surface and prevent it from moving. Place one cake layer in the center of the circle and brush the cake with the blueberry wine syrup. You will use about 1/4 cup of the liquid. Smear the surface it with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the blueberry and chocolate jam. Cover with a second layer of cake and repeat. Continue and repeat the addition of the syrup and jam till the entire cake is complete. For the top most layer of the cake, only brush the cake with the syrup but do not add the jam. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to cool. 

Icing the cake

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of the buttercream icing to create a "crumb coat". This helps the rest of the icing to stick easily to the surface of the cake. Cool the cake in the refrigerator for another 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, scoop the icing into an icing bag or icing syringe with the No. 104 tip attached. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the icing bag. When the cake is cooled, apply the icing by keeping your hand in the vertical position and moving in a zig-zag fashion from left -to-right on the side of the cake. The ruffles should be 1 inch apart from each other. Repeat the same procedure for the top surface of the cake, moving from the outer end to the inner center of the cake. Additionally, you might want to dollop a little bit of jam in the center of the cake or perhaps sprinkle a little bit of chocolate shavings on the top. 


chocolate mint cake


I am in that final phase of thesis writing where I edit and re-edit, create tables and figures and transfer information from one program to another. Then I suddenly notice formatting errors due to that occasional software glitch where tabs and margins turn out to be more complicated than the actual research question or regressions that concern the paper. Software can definitely take a mind of their own and then there are those moments where I want to give it a piece of my mind. I really wish there was a command where I could type back "Whack Program Please"!


You might have noticed that I've been busy. I've been working on designing a new logo and also this special birthday cake. My friend John turned 30 this week and since this is a big one, I thought I would bake him his birthday cake as a special gift. I checked to see if he had anything special in mind for a cake and he said chocolate but it does not have to be as elaborate as the chocolate raspberry cake that I made for the chili cook-off. Still I wanted the cake to be fun, after all it was his big 3-0! Chocolate cakes are great but why not make it something even more decadent. A little bit of inspiration came my way, when I heard that he had stuffed his gym bag with some boxes of girl scout cookies. It was then that I said to myself, why not make a cake inspired by a thin mint cookie. I did not add too much creme de menthe in the buttercream, for one I needed to keep the ratios of liquid to fat constant so I did not end up with a very green buttercream but if you do want to add a little food color to it you could achieve the desired shade/color of green.


I went back to the basic recipe for the genoise cake and baked two separate genoise cakes. The cake is then layered with a layer of mint flavored creme fraiche icing and two separate layers of dark chocolate creme fraiche icing. The entire cake is then coated and sealed with a simple buttercream icing infused with creme de menthe and then drizzled with a dark chocolate glaze which is again infused with creme de menthe. The edible silver pearls are just for a little decoration and can be found anywhere.


This cake was also featured at the Huffington Post on June, 26th 2012
chocolate mint cake


ingredients 


for the cake: 


Chocolate Genoise Sponge Cake Recipe


mint creme fraiche filling
4 tablespoon creme de menthe
1 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoon sugar


chocolate creme fraiche filling
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoon sugar


mint buttercream frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoon creme fraiche
5 tablespoon powdered sugar
3 tablespoon creme de menthe


dark chocolate glaze
3/4 cup semisweet 75% dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
8 tablespoon powdered sugar
8 tablespoons hot water (90F)
2 tablespoon creme de menthe 


mint syrup
1 cup creme de menthe 
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water


edible silver pearls for decorating the cake


After the two genoise cakes are prepared, cool and wrap them up (they can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator or frozen for a month before use).

Heat the creme de menthe, 4 tablespoons of sugar  and 1/4 cup water in a pot and bring to a simmer. Allow to cool to room temperature before use. 
To prepare the mint creme fraiche filling, beat the creme fraiche with a whisk at high speed till it forms stiff peaks. Add the sugar and the creme de menthe and whisk till combined and fluffy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
To prepare the chocolate creme fraiche filling, beat the creme fraiche with a whisk at high speed till it forms stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar and combine. In the mean time, melt the chocolate with the heavy cream on a simmering water bath and then pour it into the creme fraiche and whisk on high speed till smooth and stiff. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
To prepare the buttercream frosting, beat the butter and the sugar till it becomes light and fluffy. This will take about 7-10 minutes at high speed. Add the creme fraiche and creme de menthe and continue beating till  completely combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
Slice each genoise cake through the center to get two separate discs of equal thickness using a serrated knife and a turn table. Place one cake on a foil covered cardboard disc of equal size. Place the cake with the foil covered cardboard disc on top of a sheet of parchment paper on a turn table/cake stand or plate (This will help you to decorate the cake and reduce any clean up). Brush the surface of the cake with the prepared mint syrup, you will use about 2 tablespoons of syrup per cake slice. Then spread the mint creme fraiche filling with an offset spatula. Add the second cake layer on top of the mint creme fraiche and brush about two tablespoons of the mint syrup. Spread 1/2 of the chocolate creme fraiche filling. Similarly, place the third cake layer and brush with the mint syrup and then spread the remaining chocolate creme fraiche filling. Add the final fourth layer of cake on top and brush gently with the mint syrup. Cover the cake with cling film. At this point the cake can be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before coating with the buttercream or kept overnight. Layer the buttercream frosting with an offset spatula by coating the sides gently and slowly. You can wet the spatula by running it under warm tap water to get a smooth finish on the frosting. Allow for about 2cm of buttercream frosting on each side of the cake. Start with the center and then move to the sides. Cool the cake in the refrigerator for another 1 to 2 hours before pour the chocolate glaze. The cake should be cool enough to allow the glaze to drizzle and spread. 
To prepare the drizzle, melt the chocolate over a simmering water bath with the whipping cream. When completely melted and combined add the powdered sugar and keep mixing over the water bath. The mixture may form into a small ball. Add half of the hot water to the chocolate and keep mixing till incorporated. Add the rest of the water and creme de menthe and combine till a smooth liquid is obtained. Remove the glaze from the water bath and allow to cool till it is lukewarm (rather does not feel too hot to your skin). Pour the glaze on the top of the cake at the center and then with an offset spatula push the glaze to the ends to allow it to drizzle and drip from the sides. It helps to use a wet offset spatula to move the chocolate glaze. Sprinkle a few of the edible pearls and allow the cake to set in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving. Remove the sheets of parchment paper from the bottom of the cake before serving.