ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE with MOCHA MASCARPONE FROSTING
Recipe created by Abigail Johnson Dodge for the April 2009 issue of bon appétit magazine
ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE
2 cups cake flour
¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups packed golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsps vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
4 tsps instant espresso powder dissolved in ¾ cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and position the rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter two 9-inch round x 2-inch high cake pans, dust with flour, shake out the excess and then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Sift the 2 cups cake flour, the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and, using electric beaters, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed in 3 additions alternating with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add the hot water espresso, beating until smooth. Increase beater speed to medium and just whip very briefly until smooth and fluffy.
Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans and bake for about 40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the layers comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes on cooling racks. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the cakes, invert the cakes onto the racks, lift off the pans and peel off the parchment paper. Invert the layers again so the top sides are up and allow to cool completely.
You can make the cake layers a day ahead; simply wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.
MOCHA MASCARPONE FROSTING
Must be prepared ahead to allow for chilling
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 8-oz containers chilled mascarpone
Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the espresso powder. Bring 1 cup of the heavy cream just to a boil in a small saucepan then slowly pour over the cocoa and espresso, whisking until the cocoa is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the remaining cold ½ cup cream and the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours. Or do this the day before and chill overnight.
Place the mascarpone in a large mixing bowl and beat until loosened and fluffy. Add the chilled cocoa mixture and, on low speed, beat until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is thick and medium-firm peaks hold, about 2 minutes. Do not overbeat or the frosting may curdle.
Assemble the cake:
Using a pastry brush, brush off crumbs from the cake layers. Place one cake layer, top side up, on the serving platter. Spoon 1 ¾ cup frosting on the cake and spread evenly over the layer all the way to the edges. Top with the second cake layer, top side up, pressing to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill for 10 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting over the sides and top of the cake, swirling decoratively.