Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Part 2: Chocolate Cake with Honey-Vanilla Buttercream

To start off the year, I've got a rather old recipe, all the way from back at my birthday!  This is one of the two cakes I made for my birthday party this past October, along with this Caramel Apple Cake.  While the caramel apple cake was my personal favorite, this chocolate number was definitely the crowd favorite.  It baked up moist and rich, with three delicious layers of yummy chocolate cake.  The frosting was very tasty, although I was disappointed in it in terms of appearance.  As you can see from the picture, it was super drippy at room temperature, and it also broke and never really came back together properly - anyone have any tips on these boiled flour frostings?  I did love the delicate honey-vanilla flavor, but it just wasn't very pretty or easy to work with, and it definitely looked nothing like the photo in the cookbook!  I used upside down chocolate chips to cover the flaws though, and I don't think anyone noticed too much.  :)

Chocolate Cake with Honey-Vanilla Buttercream (adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented)
Makes 1 8-inch, triple layer cake

Chocolate Cake

3/4 cups dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 T vanilla
Honey-Vanilla Buttercream, see recipe below
Chocolate chips, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.  Flour the pans.
2.  In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1-1/4 cups hot water and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
3. Beat the butter and shortening until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10-15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture.  Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
4. Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture alternating between the two (dry-cocoa-dry-cocoa-dry).
5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans.  Use an offset spatula to level the batter.  Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 30-45 minutes.  Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely.  Remove the parchment.

Honey-Vanilla Buttercream
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 sticks unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla
3 T honey

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, 7-10 minutes.  Turn speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add the vanilla and honey and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bow over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Assemble the cake
Trim cake layers until even.  Frost the top of one layer and place the next layer on top, continuing until all layers are stacked.  Smooth frosting over the top layer, and then press chocolate chips upside down all over the top of the cake.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


  1. This cake sounds absolutely delicious! I've never made a honey butter cream! YUM ;)

  2. I love the upside-down chips! They are cute as buttons hehe. I saw a similar decorating idea in Rose's Heavenly Cakes and have wanted to try it. The flavors of this cake sound lovely, too. Happy New Year, Sara!

  3. What a beautiful cake! I love how the frosting is just oozing all over the lovely chocolate layers!

  4. This cake looks delicious! love the decorations :)

  5. Hi Sara,

    Happy New Year!

    Thank you for leaving a comment to enter our favourite cookbook giveaway. The winning draw was announced yesterday here - - and you are one of the winners!

    I stopped by your website to find your contact!

    Could you please email me your mailing address so that I can send you Ready For Dessert? Thank you. =)