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Author Notes: This cake has a spooky Halloween vibe going on but don’t let that fool you. Underneath all of that webbing is vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and rich chocolate cake that is perfect for any celebratory event that calls for a layer cake.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup hot, strong coffee
- Prepare 3, 8-inch cake pans by buttering them and lining them with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Put the sifted ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl) and stir well to combine.
- In a medium bowl or pitcher, whisk together the milk, oil, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stop the mixer, scrape down to the bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer back down to low and slowly pour in the hot coffee. Stop the mixer and scrape down to the bottom of the bowl and finish stirring by hand.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and bake for 20-25min or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 min then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 5 egg whites
- 1 pound butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- pinches salt
- 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- pastry bag and coupler
- #4 round tip
- #2 round tip
- To make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is foamy and quite warm to the touch, 5-7min.
- Use the whisk attachment to beat the egg white mixture until stiff glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10min.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and reduce the speed to low. Add the soft butter a few tablespoons at a time. Beat the frosting until smooth. During this process it is likely that the frosting will "break" and look curdled, but don’t worry, you can save it! To bring the frosting back together, turn up the speed on your mixer for a few seconds and and whip until the frosting no longer looks curdled. Continue to add the butter until it is incorporated then add in the vanilla and salt. Set aside ½ cup of the buttercream to make the web decorations.
- To Make the Buttercream for the Web: Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave. Let cool slightly, then whisk the melted chocolate into the reserved ½ cup of buttercream. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler half full of this mixture.
- Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate for about 30min
- Pull the cake out of the fridge and add a second, heavier coat of frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
- Now it’s time to get webby. Start with the #4 tip on the pastry bag of chocolate frosting and using gentle, even pressure draw two intersecting lines on the top of the cake. I’ll call these lines the “arms” and where they meet will be the center of the web. Draw 2 or three more “arms” on your web, making sure to leave some space for the connecting threads. Connect the arms of the web with slightly curved lines, all of the way to the edge of the cake. To draw a simple spider make two dots, one slightly larger than the other for the body and head. Then switch to the #2 tip and add 8 legs and an optional sprinkle of black sanding sugar for extra spookiness. Serve the cake at room temp. Store any extra frosting in an airtight container in the freezer where it will keep for a few weeks.
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