This is a fuzzy, humble, but cute looking cake. Sounds like an odd combination, but I assure you, its ‘fuzzy’ exterior is acutally cobbled together using cake crumbs. Crumbs encasing frosting? That’s a certain WIN in my book. The tanginess of the buttermilk in this dainty 8 inch layer wonder tempers the richness of the chocolate. The bite size morsels of chocolate in the cake itself adds a lovely, crunchy texture to this day and night beauty. It’s perfect to serve to friends with a large glass of milk as I recently did. With the leftovers in the fridge, the following day, this chameleon of a cake morphed into a denser, fudgier texture.
It looks like a rich and overly indulgent cake, but you’ll be happy to know that it isn’t. It can happily fill up your tummy without making it feel as though you were carrying around lead weights afterwards. To simplify hassles and headaches of doing everything all at once in one day, I make the layers the evening before, wrap them in plastic, and store them at room temperature in a cool spot in my home. The following day, I make the filling- a milk chocolate ganache (my addition to this Dorie Greenspan recipe) and the fluffy marshmallow frosting (for the exterior of the cake). The filling is adapted from a Dorie recipe as well. I’ll post it at the end of the original recipe. My suggestions and comments are in italics.
Devil’s Food White-Out Cake
For the cake
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Fry’s Cocoa, but next time I would try an undutched variety like Valrhona to compare)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Callebaut)
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature (I used buttermilk)
1/2 cup boiling water
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips (I used mini dark chocolate chips from Hershey’s Chipits… couldn’t find a mini variety from Ghirardhelli)
For the filling and frosting
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large) (I saved the yolks for pie crusts or pastry cream in the future)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Make the Cake
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. At this point, the batter will be thick, like frosting. Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (took mine out at 24 minutes because I know they’ll continue to cook when I leave them in the pans to rest), rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Don’t worry if the tops have a few small cracks. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
When you are ready to fill and frost the cake, inspect the layers. If the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. With the same knife, slice each layer horizontally in half. Set 3 layers aside and crumble the fourth layer; set the crumbs aside.
Make the Filling and Frosting
Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242 degrees F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.
When the syrup is at about 235 degrees F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour in the hot syrup, pouring it between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable — don’t try to scrape them into the whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting. Although you could keep it in the fridge in a pinch, it’s really better to use it right now.
Assemble the Cake
Put a bottom layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a long metal icing spatula, cover the layer generously with frosting. Top with a second layer, cut side up, and frost it. Finish with the third layer, cut side down, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Don’t worry about smoothing the frosting — it should be swirly. Now, cover the entire cake with the chocolate cake crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into the filling with your fingers.
Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour before serving. (If it’s more convenient, you can chill the cake for 8 hours or more; cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.) (I always put my cakes in an airtight caddy)
Serving the Cake
I think the cake is best at room temperature or just cool, but many people prefer it cold (the texture of the cake becomes fudgier after it has been refrigerated). No matter the temperature, the cake is so pretty it should be cut at the table, so bring it out on a platter and cut it into generous wedges using a serrated knife and a sawing motion.
Storing the Cake
The frosted cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving, or longer if you have the time.
Milk Chocolate Filling Variation:
8 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt milk chocolate couverture)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
To Make the Ganache: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or a rubber spatula at hand.
Bring the cream to a boil. Then pour half of it over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Working with the whisk/spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir any more than you must to blend the ingredients – the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.
Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to create an airtight seal. Set aside at room temperature for 15-20 minutes
If it has thickened, you’re in good shape. If it has not turned into a spreadable consistency, refrigerate the ganache for 20-30 minutes. Mix before spreading onto the cake layers with an offset palette. Store unused ganache in a glass container in the fridge. It will keep for about a week. Just microwave it for 30 seconds on medium if you want it in a more liquid state. It is great on goodies like ice cream, brownies, poached pears, or used as a base for hot chocolate.
Please note that if you use the milk chocolate ganache as a filling, you will have leftover marshmallow filling. You can refrigerate this for 2-3 days. Spread it on some toasted bread and eat it with peanut butter and bananas for a delightful treat.
Yield: 12 servings