30 April 2012

Black and white chocolate cake

I have more pictures than words this week.

black and white birthday cake

This was my son's birthday cake, from a couple of months ago.

black and white birthday cake

Also a couple of months ago, two days after this cake was made, we had to rush to Montreal for my dad's funeral. We brought the leftover half of cake with us, in a tin with ice packs. Birthday cake - especially one as good as this - shouldn't go to waste. Looking back, I realize I must really be a hardcore sweet tooth, to have thought of that in the middle of all the grieving.

black and white birthday cake

It still makes me a little sad that the other birthday boy, my dad, didn't get to see or taste it.

black and white birthday cake

I know I will always think of him when I make this cake, the cake I never got to make for him. He would have gilded the lily and had it with ice cream, I'm sure. He would have loved it.

black and white birthday cake

Black and White Chocolate Cake 

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's amazing baking book, which has quite a following. A few months ago, after 4 years of faithful weekly baking, the group "Tuesdays with Dorie" finished baking their way through this entire book.

There are 3 components in this cake: the base, the filling, and the frosting. They are all fairly easy, but shouldn't be rushed. A little bit of planning goes a long way. I make the cake and the dark chocolate filling first. The following day, I make the white chocolate frosting and then proceed to assemble the cake. It can then be served a few hours after assembly, or refrigerated overnight and served the next day.

This is a butter cake, and so I find it has the best texture when it is at room temperature. The frosting is cream-based, though, so I would not recommend leaving this cake out all afternoon.

The original recipe was featured here, when it was baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group.

Buttermilk Cake

Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and place a rack in the centre. 

Butter and flour two 9"x2" round cake pans, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Sift together: 
  9 oz (2 cups) cake flour 
  2 tsp baking powder 
  ⅛ tsp baking soda 
  ¼ tsp salt 

In a large bowl, beat at medium speed until soft and creamy:
  1¼ sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Add and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 more minutes:
  7 oz (1 cup) sugar 
Add one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition:  
  3 large eggs 
  1 large egg yolk 

  1 tsp vanilla extract 

Stop the mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl, and start it up again on the lowest speed setting. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts and the liquid in 2 parts (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients). You will need:
 the sifted flour mixture prepared above, divided into 3
 ¾ cup buttermilk, divided into 2

Do not overmix: mix only until combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. A cake tester will come out clean.

Cool on a rack for about 5 minutes, then unmold, peel off the paper and place right side up on the rack. 

When the cake has cooled to room temperature, you can proceed straightaway to assembling the final cake, or you can wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for assembly the next day.

black and white birthday cake

Dark Chocolate Cream

Melt and set aside:
  7 oz. bittersweet chocolate

Off heat, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together until well blended:  
  4 large egg yolks 
  6 Tbsp sugar 
  3 Tbsp corstarch, sifted 

  ¼ tsp salt

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan:
  2 cups whole milk 

When the milk has boiled, slowly whisk it into the egg yolk mixture, still off the heat. Start with a tablespoon of hot milk, whisk without stopping, add another tablespoon of hot milk, whisk again. Do this for a total of about 4 tablespoons hot milk. The egg mixture will become warm and it will loosen up. You can then add the remainder of the milk, slowly, continuing to whisk while adding the milk. 

Now place the saucepan over medium heat. Keep on whisking, vigorously and constantly, and bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and let it boil for about 2 minutes. When the mixture thickens (it will be around 165ºF-170ºF), immediately remove it from the heat. Do not turn the heat up to high, because if the mixture gets too hot the eggs will curdle.

Off heat, whisk in:
  the bittersweet chocolate melted above

Let stand for 5 minutes, and then whisk in: 
  2½ Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temp

Continue to whisk until the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create and airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, for up to 3 days. 

If you need to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with a cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes. 

You will need 2 cups of this cream for the cake. The remaining cream can be served as a dip for cookies, or can even be eaten like a pudding or custard.

black and white birthday cake

White Chocolate Whipped Cream

In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, melt:
  6 oz. premium quality white chocolate 

Stir the chocolate gently, and take care not to let any water sputter into the bowl.

Meanwhile, bring to a boil (I use the microwave for this): 
  ½ cup heavy cream 

When the white chocolate has melted, remove it from the pan and pour in the hot cream. Let it sit for a minute, and then stir the chocolate and cream to combine into a smooth mixture. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature. It can't be the least warm when you add it to the whipped cream.

When the white chocolate has cooled to room temperature, prepare the whipped cream. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat only until it holds very soft peaks:
   1 cup heavy cream, cold 

Add the cooled white chocolate at once, and continue to beat until it holds firm peaks.
Transfer the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

Assemble the Cake

Slice each buttermilk cake layer in half horizontally, to create 4 layers. This is easier to do when the cake is cold. If the tops of the cake layers are domed, remove the domes.

Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them.

Take one cake layer and set it on the cake plate. Using an offset spatula, apread about 1 cup of the dark chocolate cream over the layer, covering it completely and evenly.

Top the cream with another cake layer, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. 

Cover with a third layer. Spread another cup of the dark chocolate cream.

Top with the fourth layer of cake, and frost the top and sides with the rest of the white chocolate whipped cream.

If desired, decorate with chocolate shaving or curls.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.


  1. It looks wonderful! And it tastes also ... I'm sure!

    1. Thank you! It does taste very good :o)

  2. This is what I want for Mother's Day. On a scale of 1-10 how hard is this?

    1. Hi Karen. It depends on how much baking experience you have... if you're at ease with making cakes and also careful with preparing custards and whipping cream, it's not hard at all. The thing to watch out for is that it takes time, because of all the different components. But if you plan it well, it really is easy enough to prepare the cake, the frosting, and the filling and then put it all together. I'd say around a 5.

    2. I have perfected making my own whipped cream, so I might have to give it a try.

  3. Oh, Cookie. I'm so sorry for your loss :(

  4. I'm having a bit of a problem with the whipping cream, it seems to start curdling and won't hold a stiff peak when I add in the white chocolate and cream. Any ideas?

  5. Your cake looks gorgeous!