Cappuccino Naked Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache

These naked cakes seem to be on trend at the moment! I really enjoyed making this cake, and I really like the combination of the rustic buttercream around the cake, and the rosettes and pool of chocolate ganache on top. This cake was made for my Mum’s birthday, as she loves coffee and chocolate. So, this flavour was a no-brainer!

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 I used the trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for this cake, as it converts quite well into a round cake, too. I tried to get a good quality coffee flavour into the buttercream by using real espresso shots, and this worked really well. I also used dark chocolate ganache in the middle of the layers as well as on the top. It was a nice addition and it cut through the creaminess of the buttercream, and really, who doesn’t love ganache?!

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 Vanilla Cakes:

  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 1/2 cups caster (white) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup milk

Line two 22cm round springform cake tins with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter, sugar and  vanilla bean paste until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well combined. Add the flour and milk gradually, in alternating batches. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine after each addition. Ensure you begin and finish with flour. Divide mixture evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean. I had a bit of a problem with my cakes taking a while to cook in the middle, and one of them sunk quite a bit after I had taken it out of the oven. If you find this starting to happen in the few minutes after you have taken the cake/s out, place them back in, and lower the oven temperature if the edges of the cake are cooked. You don’t want dry edges and a  raw middle. Yuk! Once cakes have cooked, leave them to cool completely in tins. Release gently from tins once cool. If you are not assembling the cakes immediately, wrap them tightly in cling wrap and place in the fridge until ready to assemble. I prefer to assemble cakes cold, especially this one, because you will need to carve the tops. Always bring cake down to room temperature to serve and eat. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  •  250g good quality chocolate chips, or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream

Combine chocolate and cream together in a medium saucepan, and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl, and leave until set. If you are not using ganache on the same day, refrigerate, and slightly warm in the microwave to use.

Espresso Buttercream:

  • 400g butter, chopped and softened (I prefer to use salted butter when making buttercream)
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 30ml espresso coffee (try to use real espresso if you can. If it is not possible, use a good instant coffee powder with 30ml boiling water

Beat butter and vanilla until pale and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and coffee and beat until well combined. With the sugar and coffee, you don’t have to stick to these quantities if they are not to your taste. Taste as you go and add what you are happy with.

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Assembly:

Place one vanilla cake on the stand or board which you will present on. Using a serrated bread knife, gently cut the top of the cake, horizontally, until you have created an even top. Using a palette knife or a spatula, generously spread approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream over the top of the first cake. Then, using a tablespoon, spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of dark chocolate ganache on top of the buttercream and push out toward the edges of the cake, taking care not to mix the two – you want the ganache on top of the buttercream. Place the second cake on top of the first, and again, gently cut across it to create an even top, and spread with the buttercream only. After this, using your palette knife or spatula again, gently coat the outside of the cake with buttercream, taking care to gently scrape the edges, creating a smooth, naked cake appearance. Then, place approximately 2 1/2 cups of buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large, star nozzle. Pipe rosettes or swirls around the edges of the cake, and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Spoon 1/2 cup of dark chocolate ganache into the middle of the cake, and gently spread out to the rosettes if you need to. As mentioned earlier, always bring cake down to room temperature to eat. Serve, and enjoy!

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Happy Baking!

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Cappuccino Choc-Dip Macarons

Trust me to make macarons more difficult than they already are! I didn’t think the choc dip component of these special delights would be that tricky, but they turned out to be quite fiddly, and very messy. It was worth it though, as they were quite delicious. It’s been forever since I have made anything remotely coffee, and I tend to forget how yummy coffee flavoured desserts and sweets can be. This flavour went down really well with my family and colleagues, and even my boyfriend who loathes coffee quite enjoyed it, too. Winner! Also, apologies for the photos. I’ve been having issues with my good camera, so my iPhone had to do the job this time around.

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 The filling was super easy to make. It’s a basic buttercream with a bit of coffee thrown in. You just have to make sure to get the balance just right – not too much coffee, not too little. The flavour worked really well with the salted butter, and the dark chocolate dip. Even though it was messy, I’d totally do the choc dip again. It makes them just that little bit extra indulgent – perfect in the throes of Winter!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. If you don’t have a piping set, most supermarkets sell plastic disposable ones with a few different nozzles. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle. Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Don’t rush this process – you want the shells to be completely dry. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the ‘foot’ of the macaron will be formed.  Preheat your oven to 125c or 135c, fan forced.

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Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn trays around, and bake for another 9 minutes. To check if shells are cooked, gently lift one off the baking paper. If it peels of easily, they are done, if not, keep checking at 2 minute intervals. Furthermore, if you notice the tops have a slightly crumpled look after you take them out of the oven, put them back in for another couple of minutes. In my experience, this means that they are slightly undercooked and/or haven’t dried out enough before cooking. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Cappuccino Buttercream:

  • 200g salted butter, chopped and softened
  • Approx. 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Approx. 30ml espresso (you can use coffee bags or instant powdered/granule coffee as well, just make sure it’s not too watered down)

Beat butter until pale and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and beat until combined. Gradually add sugar and coffee to butter mixture. Please be careful with adding the coffee, as you don’t want to add too much liquid at once, otherwise the butter may split and curdle. Add it slowly and keep tasting until happy with the strength and flavour.

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For the choc dip, melt good quality dark chocolate in a small glass bowl/ramekin. Don’t use anything too deep because it will make it harder to dip the macaron in and out of the chocolate. I melted the chocolate gradually, as I needed it, as I didn’t want it to harden, because the dipping process did take a while. Overall, I ended up using about 200g of melts (small chocolate bits). Melt chocolate in 20 second increments in the microwave, and use a metal spoon to stir. Melting the chocolate in short  increments will keep it from burning and turning into that horrible lumpy, grainy consistency. Once chocolate is smooth and glossy, gently dip each macaron half way into the chocolate, using a teaspoon to remove the excess, and place on an oven tray lined with a fresh sheet of baking paper. Once chocolate has hardened, dust macarons with cocoa. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature to eat.

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 Whilst the weather here in Melbourne is pretty horrible at the moment, like, ice-all-over-your-car-in-the-morning kind of horrible (Aussie’s are not used to this!), the upside is that it’s perfect macaron making weather! No humidity, no air conditioning. Take advantage of it if you can!

 

Have a great weekend, and Happy Baking! 🙂