A Cake in Lisa’s Honor!: Double-Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Mousse, Rich Chocolate Buttercream, and a touch of Blackberry

Dear Readers,

I am sure that I will be a lover of cake for the rest of my life. It just has a very special place in my heart, and while today obsessions with food tend to be linked to obesity and other eating-related disorders, I can assure you that mine is simply a joy in enjoying the glory that is cake in itself. At the same time though, I don’t fall in love with every cake, those which are dry as a sponge and stale as week-old bread receive no respect from me. Undoubtedly one of my favorite things to make, my cakes have gained quite a bit of notoriety back home. It’s a pity that I rarely get the chance to make or eat any cake at college because most of the options here consist of the aforementioned dry garbage.  Whenever I return home to visit though, I am greeted by my trusty Kitchen-Aid mixer, my pantry full of baking supplies, and opportunities to bake whatever I desire. This cake was made in honor of my brother’s birthday.I hadn’t even planned on making it, but due to his insistent begging, I decided, through a mixture of good-will and self-motivation, to create this masterpiece.  A double-layer operation,  a simple, yet highly moist chocolate cake serves as the foundation. It also covers up the exquisite filling. Consisting of a dark chocolate mousse, the filling itself is much akin in taste to its close relative, the dark chocolate truffle. It has a brilliantly radiant cocoa flavor which is enhanced by the addition of coffee liqueur. The coating for the cake’s hulking, behemoth body is a thick layer of rich chocolate buttercream frosting. It happens to be a pale brown color, which I know does not sound too inviting, but for a chocolate cake, it’s just the right shade which begs to be eaten. The final touch, which was my own personal addition, is some blackberry jam spread on top of the cake layers. Berries and chocolate are definitely one of those “matches made in heaven”, and the jam adds additional depth to this symphony of flavor. With the slightly tangy jam mixing in with the alternating tones of fruity, bitter, and slightly savory, I think that is a dream birthday cake for anyone.

This cake was made in honor of Lisa, which in no way whatsoever is my brother’s real name. Why I call him that though, is a matter that’s far beyond explanation. Yet perhaps this alternative name explains a lot because the reaction to this cake was the complete opposite of what I expected. Indeed the end result of this baking venture was a moist and delicious cake, but it was mysteriously enough rejected by Lisa! I just couldn’t understand. I did everything that he asked for and yet at the end, he had the audacity to call my cake dry! Maybe I am just biased to my own cooking, but I can assure you that if the cake really was dry, which it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have eaten it either. The cake was a true gem, and I eagerly took the leftovers to college. They were finished in a matter of three days. I didn’t even share with anyone because I felt too greedy and hogged it for myself. I know that sounds really gross, but I swear I haven’t gained 50 pounds, for I only brought like 3-4 slices with me. I thought that I had my fill, but now two weeks later, I am missing it dearly. I truly wish for a glorious slice of cake to wander towards me soon.

Your’s Truly,

LYSA (Hahaha yes they are three of us!)

Recipe: Double-Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Mousse Filling, Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, and a touch of Blackberry

Adapted from Food and Wine

Makes a two-layer 9-inch round cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • blackberry jam, optional

Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons at room temperature
  • 4 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions

Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter and flour or nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a standing mixer or large bowl, beat the eggs with the brown sugar and remaining 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Beat at a medium-high speed until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. At a medium speed, beat in 1/2 cup of the oil for 3 minutes. Add in the melted chocolate and remaining oil, in a thin stream until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
  5. At a low-speed blend in the buttermilk and the vanilla. Gently fold in the dry ingredients by hand.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to let cool completely.

Mousse:

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Mix to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the cream until softly whipped. Cool until chilled, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the coffee liqueur for about 45 seconds, until hot. Stir in the softened gelatin until it has dissolved.
  4. In a another bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes. While beating the yolks, beat in the coffee-gelatin liquid; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Beat in the melted chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream. Chill in the fridge until firm and set, 4 hours to overnight.

Frosting:

  1. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, mix the egg whites, sugar, and salt together. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the egg-white mixture to a standing mixer and beat at medium-high speed until stiff and glossy, about 8 minutes. Beat in the butter a few pieces at a time, making sure it is fully incorporated before adding more. The finished buttercream should be light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated.

Assembly:

  1. Set one layer of the cake on a cake pedestal, cake plate, or some other sort of flat surface. Spread on about a tablespoon or so of blackberry jam to create a thin layer. Spread the mousse filling over that. Top with the second layer. Spread a tablespoon of blackberry jam on top of that.
  2. Frost the cake all over with a thin layer of the buttercream and refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Frost the cake remaining with the remaining buttercream and place in the fridge to allow the frosting to set, about 15 minutes.
  3. Slice up the cake and enjoy!
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