Rich chocolate cake with mousse filling and a chocolate butter cream, port wine frosting; I’m on a serious chocolate cake-making binge. This is my third cake this month (and best yet). I didn’t manage to photograph the others, because, while they tasted good, it’s nearly impossible to make a cake look picture perfect with an 8-month-old under your feet. I somehow managed to pull off this cake in my little windows of me-time, and even managed to cook dinner, sweep the floor, clean his highchair and walker, do the dishes, and throw a load of laundry into the washer. Oh…I dressed and did my hair too!
I’m not much of a baker, so cake making is outside my comfort zone. I don’t even own a cake stand or an offset spatula. I feel like I got the hang of it with this last cake, and while my icing skills need work, the taste was amazing. To make it, I used some of my favorite recipes from the Web, altering them a bit. I wanted a dark, chocolate layer cake –not too sweet — paired with a light, fluffy chocolate mousse, and frosted with rich, port wine chocolate frosting. The end result is worth repeating and sharing.
Using high quality ingredients is important if you are going to all this effort. I used Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa and semi-sweet chunks for the chocolate. Substituting walnut oil instead of plain vegetable oil is another way to add more flavor. I always use organic butter, sugar, eggs and flour and my vanilla extract is homemade. The port wine was vintage 1974, purchased on our honeymoon to Spain. All of those extra touches are what create the love in this decadent chocolate cake with mousse filling and chocolate port wine frosting.
Chocolate Cake Recipe:
Adapted from Ina Garten's "Beatty's Chocolate Cake"
- Butter, for greasing the pans
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the baking pans
- 1 cup sugar (original recipe has 2)
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken OR ½ cup milk and ½ cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup walnut or vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. I use a paper towel to smear the butter around, and then tilt the pans over the sink to make sure the flour covers every bit of the pan. You can line them with parchment on the bottom, but my cakes came out fine without.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together the buttermilk (or milk and sour cream), oil, eggs and vanilla. Using an electric mixer on a low speed, slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients. Once combined, mix in the hot coffee.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are done and a wooden cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 30 minutes, and then remove them from the pans to cool on a wire rack.
To assemble the cake, invert one layer, flat side up. Pipe a ribbon of chocolate butter cream around edge to create a “dam” for the mousse. If you don’t have a piping bag, just use a plastic baggy with a hole cut out of one corner like I did.
Add a big dollop of mousse to the middle of the first layer and smooth. Place the second layer on top, flat side down. I suggest placing the cake in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to cool at this point. You want your mousse to be nice and hard.
Ice the cake on the top and sides with butter cream.
Chocolate mousse filling recipe:
Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe by Food for a Hungry Soul
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups cold, heavy cream, plus an additional 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Using low heat, combine ½ cup of the heavy cream with the powdered sugar in a heavy saucepan. Add the chocolate chips and stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted; remove from the heat. Add in the vanilla and stir to combine. Set aside while you whip the cream.
In a large bowl, whip the remaining cream on medium speed, slowly adding the granulated sugar. Once combined, turn the speed to high until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over whip.
Add the chocolate mixture to the cream and carefully fold the two together, taking care not to over mix. Once they are combined, stop mixing. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.
Chocolate port wine butter cream recipe:
chocolate butter cream recipe by Kittencalskitchen adapted by adding port wine and a touch of salt.
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 2 2/3 cup confectioner sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons port wine
- 2 tablespoons cream or milk
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Combine the sifted sugar and cocoa powder.
Cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar/cocoa mix to the butter, alternating with vanilla, cream and port wine until completely mixed.
Continue to beat until desired consistency is achieved, adding more liquid or sugar if necessary.