Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache

You saw a picture yesterday, and now I’m pleased to share the recipe: Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache. If it sounds slightly familiar, that’s because it is – I made a very similar cake about a month ago for SpeedyKate’s birthday, and far be it from me to commit the great sin of trying to fix something that is broken! I used the exact same red wine cake recipe, and second time around it was just as good – still the best chocolate cake recipe out there. The major difference is that this time, because it was a 6x6/LLC cake, it had to have espresso. And dark chocolate. Because that, my bloggy friends, is how my real life friends operate.

Saturday morning I work up at 7:30 am because someone was chain sawing somewhere nearby. (Who does that???) Instead of groaning and rolling over to fall back asleep, I started getting excited about the party prep I had ahead of me. “Well, I’m awake and feeling alive,” I thought. “So I may as well get started.”

By the time SpeedyKate emerged at 9 am, I had walked to the grocery store, started cleaning our apartment, baked this cake, and was sipping my first cup of coffee. I love checking things off lists!

So anyway, about this cake: I like frosting  in reasonable quantities, and tend to prefer cream cheese-based; however, since this was not a cake for me, and my friends LOVE buttercream, I thought about how much I would want…then doubled that. And added two pods of espresso of course.

Last time I covered a cake in ganache, the ganache itself did not come out as smooth-looking as I would have liked. I think it’s because I stirred while the chocolate was melting (which, in my defense, the recipe told me to do). This time I used more cream, and let it sit for a full 2 minutes before stirring. It worked perfectly. (Also, my recipe made quite a bit of ganache, so now I have extra in my fridge – what shall I dip in chocolate next?)

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Printable recipe.
Cake ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup red wine (any kind – you don’t really taste it in the cake)
  • 1/2 cup light olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour 3 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. Add eggs, buttermilk, wine, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until the cakes begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto the racks and finish cooling completely before frosting.

Espresso Buttercream

(Note: I am fully aware that this is not technically an actual “buttercream.” But it is delicious and I really don’t think anyone cared.)
  • 1 ¼ cups butter (2 ½ sticks) at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon rum (I used white)
  • 3 tablespoons – ¼ cup milk, as needed (ok so I used buttermilk, since that’s what I had…and I’m pretty sure that is why my frosting did not come out looking as smooth and shiny as it should. So use regular milk and yours will come out better looking than mine!)
  • 2 espresso pods (I used lavazza, and I think 2 pods is about 3 tablespoons espresso. This is kind of a lot of espresso, feel free to use decaf.)
  1. Beat butter, vanilla, and rum together. Beat in the powdered sugar, and add milk a couple tablespoons at a time until it reaches spreadable consistency.
  1. Spread frosting evenly between the layers, and cover the cake completely. (It will work best if you do a “crumb layer” – i.e. spread a thin layer of frosting around the outside to catch all the crumbs, then do a second frosting layer to make it look good.)
  2. Refrigerate the cake at least one hour.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

(Prepare this after the cake is frosted and cooled.)
  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup (6 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or in chip form (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips.)
  1. Stovetop: Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
  2. OR Microwave: Bring cream to a simmer in a microwave safe bowl (it took about 1 minute for me).
  3. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
  4. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed.
  5. Pour ganache over the top, spreading it with a spatula so it drips down the edges. Serve at room temperature.
Serving tip: Cut with a sharp knife that you’ve dipped in hot water between each slice.

Printable recipe.

Oh and for writing on the cake, I used a tube of sparkly decorating frosting and my summer working in a Whole Foods bakery cake-writing skillz.