Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Cake with Chocolate Kahlua Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache

In case you didn't notice from the title of this post, it is ALL about CHOCOLATE! So if you are not a chocolate fan, you can stop reading right here. However, if you think the world will just not be a perfect place without this luscious, velvety, scrumptious, beautiful PLANT called chocolate, then this post is for you!

This was a cake I made as a thank-you to a friend of my husband's for his kindness to us. We thought this would be the "sweetest" way to say "thank you" to him. :) Apparently, so did his family: he reported the entire cake was gone in two days flat!

The cake is a modification of my beloved dark-chocolate-cake-with-peanut-butter-frosting.
It is by far one of the most extraordinary cakes I have ever baked. The full name for the cake should actually read: Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Cake with fresh bananas (between the layers), Chocolate Kahlua Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, and Dark Ghirardeli Chocolate Ganache. I know, it is a mouthful to say and it may sound like there is just way too much going on in it at the same time, but in reality, the flavors work so exceptionally well together, that every. single. bite. tastes like you just died and went to heaven.... :)

Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Cake


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken (or 1 cup minus 1 tbsp milk and 1tbsp white vinegar added and left 5 min)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot hazelnut flavor coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans – Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (or use “PAM for Baking”).

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gently whisk.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine – scrape up from the bottom to make sure all the flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks to complete cooling.

Chocolate Kahlua Frosting

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably not all-natural
2 tsp Kahlua Liqueur (or 2 tsp vanilla extract if you want to avoid the alcohol)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and peanut butter together until very light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the Kahlua liqueur (or vanilla extract). Add the cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix in fully after each addition. (I like to drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer while doing this, to avoid a cloud of powdered sugar in my kitchen- it really does help!) Cream on low speed until well blended and creamy. Gradually pour in the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. Frost your cooled cake and decorate.

Chocolate Ganache:

6oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Bring the whipping cream to a boil in a little saucepan. Watch it carefully, because it may boil over. Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot whipping cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir a little until the chocolate melts. Pour over the cake before it sets.

To assemble cake, once it has cooled on wire racks, place the first layer on serving platter, spread a little of the frosting on top. Arrange thinly sliced fresh banana on top (optional but really good :)), spread more of the frosting on top of the bananas. Place second layer on top. Frosting the entire cake with the remainder of the frosting and decorate to suit your needs and/or occasion. Pour the slightly cooled (but still not set) chocolate ganache on top of the frosting. If you want to write with icing on top of the ganache, you have to wait for it to set a little bit. For this cake, I was pressed for time and had to put my writing on top of the still liquid ganache- it was very hard to do and (as you can see from the pictures above) it turned out pretty sloppy. But, the recipients were thrilled with it sloppy writing or not... :) And I am sure you will be too, if you decide to make it! Now, don't waste any time- go ahead and bake this cake, I know you want to!

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