Speckled Chocolate Chip Cake with Ganache and Shaved Chocolate Vanilla Bean Buttercream




The night before Valentine's Day, I baked a special little cake for Jamie and me.  Three layers of vanilla bean cake with dark chocolate chips, filled with ganache, and frosted with shaved chocolate vanilla bean buttercream.

Just six inches in diameter, this cake is smaller than it looks, although still much more cake than two people could/should attempt to finish in a weekend.

Then on Friday, he surprised me with a delivery of red roses at my work, and I knew right away what I was going to do with a few of the flowers, something I've wanted to do ever since I started cake decorating.












Before the afternoon light faded and before he arrived home to take me to the ballet, I arranged a few of the roses and baby's breath on the cake for photos.  I was tempted to cut a piece right then, so that I could finish the photos with the same lighting, but I made myself wait, since I wanted to cut the cake with him that night for dessert after the ballet.  So I took the photos of the cut cake the next day, at the exact same time in the hope that the lighting would be consistent.  Can you tell that some of the photos were taken another day?











Next year when we celebrate Valentine's, he'll be my husband.

One Year Ago:   Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce
Two Years AgoOrange Poppyseed Muffins with Orange Curd and Mimosas











Speckled Chocolate Chip Cake with Ganache
printable

Cake:
·         1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
·         4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
·         2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
·         2 eggs
·         ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
·         1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
·         ½ teaspoon kosher salt
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder
·         Pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) baking soda
·         2/3 cup buttermilk
·         2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Ganache:
·         3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
·         3 ounces heavy whipping cream

Buttercream:
·         1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
·         ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
·         2 cups powdered sugar
·         1 tablespoon meringue powder
·         1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
·         ½ cup grated or finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (about 3-4 ounces)

Baker’s Note: For a standard sized cake (three 8 or 9-inch layers), double the recipe and prepare  as instructed.

Bake the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the bottoms of three 6-inch pans with non-stick baking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray the paper as well.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla bean seeds/extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour, stirring just until moistened.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide batter between the pans.  Bake cakes for 24-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.

Make the Ganache:
While the cake is cooling, place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  Gently warm the cream over low heat, just until it begins to bubble around the edges, then pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for 3 minutes, then stir with a spatula until smooth.  Set aside to cool and thicken at room temperature for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Make the Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and vanilla bean seeds until smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder.  With the mixer on low, add by spoonfuls.  Add the milk and increase speed to medium high, whipping until very light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.  Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Assembly:
Remove the cooled cakes from the pans.  Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake pedestal or cake board.  Pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the edge of the cake and spoon half the ganache inside the buttercream.

Stack a second cake on the first and repeat with the rest of the ganache.  Add the third layer of cake, bottom side up.  At this point, you may want to stick a wooden skewer straight down the middle of the cakes to hold them in place while you frost the cake, as ganache is more slippery than buttercream and your cakes can slide around if you’re not careful.

Frost all over with a very thin crumb coat of buttercream; chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Finish frosting with the rest of the buttercream and store, covered, at room temperature.  If covered tightly, this cake will still taste fresh and moist for about five days.

Yields about 8-10 servings

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

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