Chocolate-Bourbon Cake with Bourbon Browned- Butter Buttercream

 

Chocolate-Bourbon Cake with Browned-Butter Bourbon Buttercream

I used to always say that rum was my favorite spirit, but as I’ve gotten older I can definitely say it’s now bourbon. I love trying and buying new bourbons; there are so many out there now to choose and try. I decided to go bold and use a 100 proof bourbon and use Knob Creek which is my current favorite, but as I love to try new brands; that may be subject to change. This cake was such a sweet surprise. I love to have some texture in my cakes when I’m placing the filling, so I decided to try the butterfinger pieces that are new in the baking aisle. I was afraid it would be too sweet, but it was perfect with this cake and gave a wonderful little crunchy bite. My neighbor loves cake and every year I make his birthday cake. His wife is my best friend and she always has a great party with me bringing the cake.

Chocolate-Bourbon Cake

1 3/4 C all purpose flour

1 3/4 C granulated sugar

3/4 C natural unsweetened coco powder (such as Hershey’s)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup whole milk (room temp)

1/2 C vegetable oil or canola oil

2 large eggs (room temp)

1/2 C good quality bourbon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 C hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 330° F – 350° degrees F. I used four 6 inch pans so I baked them at a lower temp as I wrap my pans with baking strips and I find that I prefer to bake my cakes when I do this at a bit lower temp so they come out flat. If you don’t use baking strips then bake at 350 F. Prepare the pans by spraying with baking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer place all the dry ingredients and whisk well. Whisk together the milk and the next 4 ingredients well. Add to the dry and whisk to combine. Add in the hot coffee and stir with the whisk to combine. The batter will be very thin. Divide the batter equally into your pans; note if you use 6 inch pans it will be about 1 cup and 5 tablespoons of batter if you are like me and like to be precise. Bake until the tops of the cakes start to pull away from the sides and the top springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Six inch pans will take about 30-31 mins at 330° F, 8 inch pans will take 22-25 mins at 350° F. Always watch your bakes though; don’t rely on a recipe and go be strictly time alone. A good baker will always check often towards at least 5 mins before the suggested time. Cool the cakes in the pans set over a wire rack, and let cool for 20 mins, then turn out and continue to cool until the cakes are completely cool; about 40 more minutes.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream. Note; you can make the buttercream ahead as it does take some time.

Browned Butter Buttercream 

2 Cups unsalted butter 

5-6 Cups un-sifted confectioner sugar

1 tsp. vanilla 

2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream 

3-4 Tbsp.  good quality bourbon 

Butterfinger candy pieces (for sprinkling onto filling) 

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until the butter smells nutty and fragrant and the solids at the bottom of the pan appear golden brown; about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof shallow bowl. Place in the refrigerator to chill until almost firm. Once firm take a large spoon and break it up then place in a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the butter until no more lumps appear and is smooth and fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar and well combined and smooth. Add in the vanilla and then the heavy cream and whip until blended. Stir in the bourbon at slow speed until blended. Switch to the paddle attachment (this is to remove any excess air and helps the buttercream to become smooth), and blend at medium low speed for about a minute. Reserve about 1/3 cup buttercream for the “poofs” at the top. I used a French tip Ateco #867 for the poofs on top but use whatever you like. 

Spread the buttercream between the layers and then sprinkle with butterfinger pieces (you can find the bag in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips). Frost the sides and top of cake in a thin layer to do a crumb coat and chill for 30 minutes, then remove and frost the rest of the cake. Top the cake with poofs using a piping bag with your tip of choice and then if you like grate some finely grated bittersweet chocolate with a zest grater or top with chocolate sprinkles. 

 


Chocolate Guinness Stout Cupcakes with Creamy Fudge & Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

Guinness and Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate and Baileys Buttercream

Chocolate Guinness Stout Cupcakes

 

I just finished reading a really moving book that tells the true story of Sasha Martin, called Life From Scratch. The book is sad, inspiring, raw, and sensitive. Along the way you feel the mood and emotion of her childhood as she moves into adulthood. Each chapter is a blessing of recipe(s) from her life’s journey. One of the recipes is a Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Buttercream which I’ve adapted into cupcakes and added a bit of extra chocolate fudge frosting as a bonus. I’ve seen cake recipes before that use Guinness so I was especially excited to try this, and it was fabulous. Pick up her book if you haven’t read it- it’s a great read.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

Saint Patricks Day Cupcakes

Baileys Irish Cream and Chocolate Fudge Buttercream

Choc Guinness Stout Cupcake

Chocolate and Guinness Stout Cupcakes

Chocolate & Guinness Stout Cupcakes

recipe adapted from the book Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin

yield: 16 cupcakes 

12 Tbsp (1  1/2 sticks)  unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup Guinness Extra Stout Beer (take the beer out ahead of time and let sit on the counter unopened so that it is not cold)

1 Tbsp Vanilla

3/4 Cup unsweetened Cocoa powder

1  1/2 Cup sugar

1  1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs, room temp

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a small saucepan heat the butter until just melted, then whisk together with the Guinness, vanilla, and cocoa. While the Guinness mixture is cooling, line cupcake tins with paper liners. Whisk together the sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large bowl. Pour the Guinness mixture onto the dry ingredients, and then whisk in the 2 eggs. When the batter is shiny and smooth, pour it into the wells of the cupcake tins filling 2/3 full; exactly 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for ~ 15-20 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. (baking time in a regular oven is around 19-20 minutes. I used my convection oven at 325° F and baked mine for exactly 15 minutes). Cool completely.

Prepare a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (or your choice of tip) and fill each side of the bag with chocolate fudge frosting and Baileys frosting-it’s handy to use a “two tone” piping bag if you can find one.

 

Dark Chocolate Fudgy Frosting

recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

1 Cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup  plus 3 Tbsp confectioners sugar

1/3 Cup (40 g) extra dark unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s extra dark)

1/4 Cup hot water

1/4 Cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

generous pinch of salt

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli) melted and cooled

 

In a food processor place all but the melted chocolate and pulse until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and pulse until smooth. Chill frosting is not using right away.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Buttercream

recipe from Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 lb. confectioners sugar, sifted

2-4 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream

 

Whip the soft butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar on low speed, then increase to medium high, and drizzle in enough Baileys to get the buttercream loose and fluffy. To achieve a whiter frosting whip it 5-10 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.

 

 

 


Chocolate Malt Whopper Cake

This cake is not a strong hit you in the face malted flavor, but rather the wonderful crunch of the whoppers in the filling along with the really flavorful malty vanilla buttercream give it a nice change to your average traditional chocolate cake. If you really love whoppers you could go all out and even crush some on top of the cake. I just love the simple crown of whoppers adorning the cake. I made this for a dear friend of mine who happens to be a wonderful neighbor as well. She’s part of my squad if you will. There are six of us; 3 couples (my Husband and I), and the 2 other couples who are all neighbors and we get together at least once a week to hang out, swim in the pool, drink or just relax and have a great time. There’s always laughs and good food, and I always bring the cake if it’s a special occasion.

Chocolate Malt Cake

1 3/4 Cup Flour

2 Cups Sugar

3/4 Cup” Hershey’s Special Dark” cocoa powder, sieved (you can used original Hershey’s cocoa powder also)

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup milk

5 Tbsp. malted milk powder

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 Cup very hot coffee

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch cakes pans. Heat the milk in the microwave until very hot and whisk in the malted milk powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Whisk in the milk mixture until combined, then stir in eggs along with the oil and whisk vigorously until combined. Using the same whisk stir in the hot coffee and vanilla until batter is smooth. The batter will be very thin. Divide batter into equal parts into the 3 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 26 mins or until a skewer inserted reveals a few moist crumbs. Depending on your oven; you may want to rotate your pans half way through for even baking. Do NOT overbake or cake will be dry. Allow cakes to cook in their pans over a wire rack until cooled.

This is the chocolate bar I like to use to grate over the filling. I also comes in pound plus large bars. I love this chopped up in chocolate chip cookies in large chunks instead of traditional chips.

Malted Milk Vanilla Buttercream

2 1/2 Tablespoons hot milk whisked with 5Tablespoons malted milk powder (I used Carnation brand)

5 oz. pasteurized liquid egg whites by weight (141 g)

1 lb, plus 4 oz. by weight confectioners sugar, sifted (567 g)

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 lb and 1/4 unsalted butter (2 1/2 C) , softened but slightly cool

2 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together the hot milk and malted milk powder as above and set aside to cool.

*You will need whopper candies and some additional dark bittersweet chocolate in bar form. I like the Trader Joes Belgium dark chocolate brand. See below for details.

In a bowl of a stand mixer whisk together by hand first (to avoid a mess) the egg whites ,salt and confectioners sugar just to combine, then using the whisk attachment whisk on high for approximately 6 minutes until thickened and combined; stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on med high, start adding in the butter a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated; stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla until combined. Mix in malted milk mixture until combined, then switch to the paddle attachment and whip for a couple minutes; this helps to ensure the buttercream is really smooth.

  • Crush a couple handfuls of whoppers to break up so you have both small pieces and larger pieces.
  • Approx. 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate divided. Melt 1.75 oz -2 oz (in this case I used one small bar of Trader Joes 1.75 oz bar) of bittersweet chocolate and allow to cool; to use for decorating; the remainder will be used to grate over the filled layers to add in some chocolate flavor.

To assemble the cake; Fill the first and second layers with 2 1/2 ice cream scoop size of buttercream and top with a generous grating of shaved chocolate using a large hole rasp, then top with some crushed whopper pieces. Top with the third cake layer and do a thin crumb coating of buttercream. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes before finishing with the rest of your buttercream. Frost the top and sides first with the malted buttercream. To achieve the ombre effect; save one cup to 1 1/2 cup of buttercream, and in a small bowl combine with some of the melted chocolate to achieve a darker shade of buttercream, spread this along the bottom 2/3rds of the cake and using a bench scraper smooth. Dot the rest of the melted chocolate along the bottom of the of the cake about an inch worth and continue to smooth and scrape and add in any random spots of melted chocolate to you reach the desired effect. Top the cake along the border with whole whopper pieces. Chill until ready to serve and let the cake come to room temperature to serve.

You can drag a little of the melted chocolate along the top of the cake for a marbled effect


Black Cocoa Chocolate Galaxy Cake

 

Did you know there’s a thing such as black cocoa powder? Yep, the same type that Oreo’s are made from. You can buy it online. I purchased some quite a while back from King Arthur when I make homemade style Oreo’s and I wanted to play around with some colors on top of some black buttercream. I tweaked this buttercream from Sweetapolita’s recipe for glossy black buttercream slightly, as well as her recipe for black cocoa cake on her site that is called Glam Rock Cake. It was super fun to play around with smearing some other colors on top of the black frosting to get the galaxy look. I always use Americolor gel color paste; and besides the super black that was used in the frosting, I used electric blue, electric purple and electric pink along with some white to get my galaxy look. You have to start with a black smooth canvas then randomly smear on little dabs of the colors and then take your bench scraper to lightly mix the colors. I then took some silver luster dust mixed with a little super white gel food color and thinned it with a tiny bit of vodka to get the right consistency to splatter on the white space matter. I also “threw” (literally) on some tiny edible silver stars for the final flourish.

The galaxy styled cake was a surprise birthday cake for a friend of mine in my church group, and he loved it!

The inside of the cake is black velvet filled with cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries. The raspberries help counteract the sweet contrast of the buttercream. I love how it looks also when you slice into it. I used bittersweet chocolate in the frosting but in hindsight; since the black cocoa is a very forward flavor, if I make it again I would use half semi sweet and bittersweet as I thought it was a little too bittersweet for my taste, but it was delish none the less.

 

Black Cocoa Galaxy Cake

Black Cocoa Cake

recipe: from Sweetapolita Glam Rock Cake

2 1/3 Cup all purpose flour

3/4 Cup plus one Tablespoon best quality black cocoa powder (I used King Arthur brand)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 Cups buttermilk, room temperature (or mix one cup whole milk with 1 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar and let sit for at least 10 minutes)

1/2 Cup hot coffee

1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

2 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar (it seems like a lot; but the cake needs it)

2 tsp. vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp

1/4 cup mayonnaise, room temp

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

 

Preheat the oven to 350° F and spray three 8 inch pans with baking spray and line with parchment circles.

In a bowl sift together the flour, black cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large glass liquid measuring cup mix together the buttermilk and coffee. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment ,or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 8 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and mix gently. Decrease the speed to low and add in one third of the flour mixture until just combined. Add in one half of the buttermilk/coffee mixture. Add in the remainder of the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk mixture, ending with the flour mixture until combined; being careful not to overmix. Remove the bowl and carefully mix in the mayonnaise.

In a small bowl quickly mix the baking soda and vinegar and quickly add to the batter, whisking until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the pans and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-27 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched and the cake just starts to pull away from the pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Black Glossy Fudge Frosting

recipe from Sweetapolita 

1  Cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

6 Tbsp. black cocoa powder  (I used King Arthur brand that I purchased online)

2-3 Tbsp. hot water

1/4 cup sour cream

3/4 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (melted along with the bittersweet chips)

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

gel paste color in super black (Americolor)

In a large bowl, using a hand held mixer beat the butter until pale and fluffy; about 6 minutes. Sift the confectioners sugar, salt, and the cocoa together and add in and mix on low first to avoid a mess, then add in the hot water and sour cream and mix to combine. Increase the speed and beat for about 2 minutes to combine. Add in the melted chocolate chips and beat for another minute or two to combine. Add in about 1/2 tsp. of the black gel paste color and beat to combine. Let the frosting sit for about 15 minutes (it darkens as it sits) and then add a little bit as necessary to achieve the color you want. Note; the frosting darkens considerably after sitting. I made the frosting the day before and let it sit covered in the bowl on the counter and it went from very dark brown to black; so if you have time; make it the day before so you can gauge the blackness of the final product.

For decorating the galaxy look: 

White vanilla purchased frosting (you want a white white color so your colors are not off) for coloring small bowls of divided frosting with electric blue, electric purple, and electric pink (all Americolor gel colors) to use for decorating the outside of the cake.

Note: I also used a small amount of silver luster dust mixed with bright white Americolor and vodka to achieve a thickened liquid consistency to “splatter” on the outside of the cake using a clean small paintbrush (that I buy in the craft store- and use solely for this purpose). Clean afterwards and you can reuse and store in your containers of gel colors to have handy.

To decorate; after your cake is smoothed with your final black frosting; smear on random small amounts about 1 inch of each colors randomly around the cake and gently smooth using your bench scraper going around the cake and adding in colors as needed to achieve your final look. Avoid smoothing too much; you want spots of color to show. I also add on some white frosting and gently smooth to get some gray color. While the frosting is still sticky; if you want toss against the sides with edible silver stars and splatter with your mixed silver luster dust/white gel color/vodka mix.

 

Fluffy Cream Cheese Filling

recipe: sweetapolita

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

8 oz. softened cream cheese, cut into small cubes

2 (6 oz.) containers fresh raspberries, washed and dried

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and decrease the speed to low and beat for one minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy; about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low and add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth, about one minute. Try not to overbeat as the frosting will become too loose if you fdo. Fill the cakes by gently spreading one half of the frosting over two of the cakes and placing the raspberries onto the frosting, and then gently smushing them down onto the frosting before topping with the next cake layer; repeat with the second cake layer, and top with the third cake layer and frost the outside of the cake with the black frosting and decorate as described above.

 

 

 

bonus photos of some galaxy macarons I made; but decided not to use in the end

 


Chocolate-Malt Whopper Whoopies

Who wants a whoopie?!  I could use anything about now that gives me a hint of a mental boost. I’m sure my readers on the East coast of the U.S. right now will agree. Hang in there- Spring is coming! How can you be mad when you say the word whoopie? My computer keeps trying to auto change it to whoopee every time-clearly hinting to me with a mind of it’s own that I need to whoop it up a bit more than usual. Note taken.

I’ve been wanting to make whoopie pies for a while now, but wanted to forgo the traditional marshmallow filling.  A couple of years ago I made this whopper buttercream for a filling in a buche de noel, and remembered how yummy it was. There are crushed whoppers in the buttercream which boosts the malt flavor even more. Who doesn’t love a good whopper?  I love the flavor combination of chocolate and malt, and now that I have a container of malted milk powder I’m going to have to bust out some more recipes I supposed with malt! These are fun for a party or casual gathering.  If you don’t know what a whopper is, you might know what a malteser is (if you hail from somewhere besides the U.S.) This recipe is adapted from a recipe called Devil Dogs from the Cookbook Baked Elements. Enjoy!

 

Keep the batter spaced well when scooping, as they spread when baked….

 

Chocolate-Malt Whopper Whoopies

yield: ~ 12-13 whoopie pies

 

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

yield: 12-13 assembled sandwiched whoopies

recipe: adapted from “Devil Dogs” in Cookbook Baked Elements

 

2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 Cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Valrhona)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. instant espresso powder

1/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1/4 Cup vegetable shortening, room temp

1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1.5 oz. dark chocolate (60-72 %), melted and cooled (I used Guittard “Extra Dark” 63 % chocolate chips)

1 large egg yolk

1 Cup whole milk +1 Tbsp. vinegar (Or you can use 1 Cup buttermilk)

 

Whisk the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a glass measuring cup place the milk and vinegar and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat (about 3 mins.)  until fluffy-stop to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and yolk and beat until combined. Note: I used the microwave to melt my chips and it took me exactly 60 seconds total heat time-which I stopped several times to stir the chocolate as to avoid burning).

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer often to scrape down the sides and bottom of work bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to mix gently one last time and gather the batter into the middle of the bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

Prepare sheet pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400° F.

Remove chilled batter from fridge. Using a 1 oz. scoop (2 Tbsp.), scoop and place batter onto prepared sheet pans, leaving 2 inches of space to allow for spreading while baking. Bake for 10 minutes or until cakes spring back slightly when gently pressed. Do not overbake. Allow to cool on pans completely, then carefully use a spatula to gently scrape underneath to remove. Note: the original recipe says to chill the cakes on pans for 10 minutes then remove, but I found that the cakes fell apart too easily with this, so I advise allowing the cakes to cool completely on the sheet pans then removing gently. Another helpful tip: I found that chilling the cakes (unassembled for about an hour before filling them also helps the cakes to firm up a bit which helps them stay firmer once assembling).

To Assemble: Scoop a generous amount of buttercream filling (recipe below) between two cakes and serve immediately. If not serving immediately, store assembled cakes in the fridge in an airtight container or in a container covered with foil.

 

Malted Buttercream with Crushed Whoppers

recipe adapted from the Book:  Baked Elements

2 Tbsp. boiling water (I do this in a coffee mug in the microwave)

4 Tbsp. (1/4 C)  malted milk powder (such as Carnation)

1/2 Cup heavy cream

6 Tbsp (1/4 C + 2 Tbsp. ) whole milk

1/4 Cup  flour

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1  3/4 C confectioners sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Cup Whoppers Malted Milk Balls + more (if desired for garnishing outside of pies)

 

Dissolve the malted milk powder in the boiling water and using a spoon, stir and  smoosh the powder as necessary against the side of the mug to ensure all of the powder dissolves.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream, milk, and malted milk mixture. Whisk in the flour gradually and stir constantly until mixture reaches a boil and becomes thick, about 3 minutes. Set the mixture in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes.

Cream the butter and confectioners sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy. Remove the cooled malt mixture from the fridge and slowly pour in the mixture with the mixer on low. Once all the milk mixture is added, add in the vanilla and turn up the mixer and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy.

Place the Whoppers in a freezer type ziplock bag and using a heavy saucepot crush the candies until coarsely crushed.

Fold in the crushed whoppers into the buttercream.

Note: You can make the buttercream a day in advance if desired and store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to assemble whoopies- let the buttercream come to room temperature and rewhip by hand (vigorously) with a spoon to allow the buttercream to become fluffy again.

Note: you can crush additional Whoppers and roll the finished/assembled whoopies in crushed candies if desired.