Since beginning Project Pastry Love almost 3 years ago I’ve learned a lot about baking and pastry. I know how to tell when bread dough has been properly kneaded. I know the temperature at which cooked sugar has become caramelized. I know when flour, water, and cold butter have transformed into perfect pastry dough just by touching it. I also know what I don’t know, and I don’t know how to decorate cakes. Sure, my cakes are passable, and they taste scrumptious, but they are not Pintrest-worthy. Last year a friend of mine asked me to make her son a cake for his First Communion. I took on the challenge with great enthusiasm, and made a delicious red velvet cake, which looked like a clown had vomited all over it. That disaster can still keep me up at nights along with my fear of falling tree branches, and stupid things I may or may not have said at a party. Well, I’ve been asked to make three cakes for the same friend at the end of April (she’s extremely forgiving), so I’ve decided to make a cake a week to practice. I’m starting with a chocolate marshmallow cake. This cake has everything I’ve been craving lately– two layers of moist chocolate cake, a marshmallow/caramel buttercream filling, and a very chocolatey chocolate frosting.
I adapted this recipe from Tessa Huff’s chocolate candy bar cake from her exquisite cake book Layered. My goal for this project was to perfectly level my cake layers. I’ve learned from past mistakes that if the layers aren’t leveled well you’ll be on your way to decorating the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I have many leveling tools, but none have worked as well as the old fashioned serrated knife. You’ll also need a rotatable cake stand, a good pair of eyes, and the ability to move very slowly.
Using a sawing motion, I carefully cut around the edge while turning the cake around. As I go around and around I cut in deeper and deeper. When I’ve finally cut completely through, I take huge breath in, close my eyes, say a prayer to the Cake Gods, and then lift the cut piece off of the cake. It’s very scientific.
I piped out a border of chocolate buttercream around the edge, and then spread on the marshmallow/caramel buttercream. And I sprinkled the top with chocolate cookie crumbs. I then topped the cookie crumbs with more marshmallow buttercream to create a nice, thick filling layer.
I topped it with the second layer and then frosted it in a deep-tasting, chocolate buttercream. For a whimsical look I decided to swirl the buttercream from the bottom of the sides all the way up through the top. It was the best I could do with my limited skills.
Nice try, Cam.
- 2 and ½ cups (315 g) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup (95 g) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 2 and ½ tsp. Baking Powder
- ¾ tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- ½ cup (150 ml) Vegetable Oil
- 2 cups (400 g) Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 Large Egg Yolk
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ½ tsp. Almond Extract
- 1 and ½ cups (360 ml) Whole Milk
- 1 cup (240 ml) Hot Strong-Brewed Coffee
- ¾ cup (12 TBS or 170 g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 4 and ½ to 5 and ½ cups (563 g to 750 g) Powdered Sugar
- 1 cup (100 g) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 2/3 cup Whole Milk
- 3 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- ¾ cup (12 TBS. or 170 g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 cups (250 g) Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 to 3 tsp. Heavy Cream
- 1 13oz. jar of Marshmallow Fluff
- 2 TBS Salted Caramel Sauce (store bought is just fine)
- 1 cup Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, and lightly grease the parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a bowl connected to a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the sugar and oil together until all of the sugar is well coated in the oil. Mix in the eggs and egg yolk until just combined. Finally, mix in the vanilla and almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixture on low speed add the flour mixture in three batches alternating with the milk. Be sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. Once combined, slowly pour and stir in the hot coffee.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cakes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and then remove the cakes from the cake pans.
- These layers will last for up to 2 days at room temperature (loosely wrapped), Up to a week refrigerated (wrapped well), and up to 3 months in the freezers (wrapped well).
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and salt. Next, sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Set both bowls aside.
- In a bowl connected to a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 2 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of the powdered sugar, and mix on low speed until smooth. Mix in all of the cocoa powder and about 4 to 4 and ½ cups of the sifted powdered sugar.
- Add the vanilla extract, and then add the whole milk. Pour the milk in a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. If the buttercream becomes too soft and runny simply add a little more powdered sugar, and if the buttercream is too stiff then add more milk. Mix on medium-speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time. *Buttercream will last for 2 to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks refrigerated in an airtight container, and up to 3 months in the freezer in an airtight container.
- Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl, and then set aside.
- In a bowl connected to a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On low speed, add ½ cup of the sifted powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the rest of the sifted powdered sugar.
- Mix in the vanilla extract, and then the heavy cream.
- Mix in the Marshmallow Fluff. Beat the buttercream for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time during this process.
- Finally, stir in the 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce. If the buttercream seems too soft and runny simply add a little more powdered sugar, and if the buttercream is too stiff then add a little milk (a tablespoon at a time).*Buttercream will last for 2 to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks refrigerated in an airtight container, and up to 3 months in the freezer in an airtight container.
- Fill two piping bags with buttercream (one with the chocolate, and one with the marshmallow). Carefully level each cake layer using a serrated knife. Place one of the layers on a rotating cake stand. Using the chocolate buttercream piping bag, pipe out a border on top of the cake layer around the perimeter. Next, pipe out the marshmallow buttercream all within the border. Use and off set spatula to smooth it all around. Cover the top of the marshmallow buttercream with the chocolate cookie crumbs. Now repeat. Pipe another layer of chocolate buttercream onto of the chocolate buttercream border, and then pipe the marshmallow cream over top of the cookie crumbs. Carefully smooth it over. Place the cake (cake stand and all) in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Carefully place the second cake layer on top. Pipe out some of the chocolate buttercream on top of the cake and around the sides. Using the off set spatula, smooth the buttercream all around. This is your crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for another 30 to 60 minutes, or until the chocolate buttercream has hardened a bit.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator once again. Pipe out the remaining chocolate buttercream on top and around the sides. Using the off set spatula, ice the cake completely. With any remaining buttercream, and using decorative tips and piping bags, decorate the cake however you’d like.
- Standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
- Two 8-inch round cake pans
- Parchment paper
- Wire racks
- Rotating cake stand
- Off set spatulas
- Piping bags and tips