Chocolate Cake with Nutella Buttercream: Yummy Engagement/Shower/Anniversary Cakes

Chocolate Ganache Cake
Chocolate Ganache Cake, Photo by Blue Bird Imaging

First let me say: Happy 1st Anniversary Hindsight Groom! We celebrated the first anniversary of our legal marriage this Wednesday. Yaaaay.

Second let me say this: Do you know what is one of the best things about making your own wedding cake? Um, you know how to make killer cakes!

Since we had a decadent chocolate ganache cake for our west coast wedding, I thought a yummy, made-from-scratch, chocolate cake was in order for our first anniversary.

If you love baking cakes, but don't want to deal with the stress and risk of making your own wedding cake, show off your skills by making your own engagement party cake (or your own wedding shower cake.) Or just have the ladies over for a chocolaty treat. Chocolate cake with Nutella buttercream is one of my all time very favorite cakes! The secret ingredients are black coffee and cinnamon.

Chocolate Butter Cake
Confessions of a Tart

Makes two 6″ rounds and serves 12
. For larger cakes, such as two 9″ rounds, triple the recipe.

1 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee (you can also use decaf, or instant coffee)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter or spray your cake pans–I swear by Bakers Joy.

In a mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. At this point, please make sure to scrape the bowl very very often because the little deposits of flour, sugar and cocoa can really sneak up on you.

Whisk the eggs and coffee together, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition. Do not over beat or your batter may curdle. In the end, stir carefully, bringing up the batter from the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the batter is at an even consistency. Divide the batter among the prepared pans (for  6-inch round pans, each pan will take approximately  2 cups of batter).

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully turn the cake layers out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. (to frost, either carefully crumb coat it, or wrap tightly in plastic and freeze for a few hours).

Nutella Buttercream
for larger cakes see Martha Stewart's recipe and double the Nutella amount

Note from Confessions of a Kitchen Tart: because of the Nutella addition, I found this buttercream to be not as stiff as if I had made it without Nutella, so while you probably won't be able to pipe chocolate roses with it, it still holds up extremely well to simple piped decorations and I was very pleased with it.

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cups Nutella
Place a medium sized pan with about 3 inches of water over medium heat and allow water to come to a gentle simmer. Put the egg whites and sugar in a large heat-proof bowl and set over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk egg whites and sugar together constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved (when you rub the egg whites between your fingers, you should not be able to feel granules of sugar). This usually takes about 5 minutes.

Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (make sure to wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl which you've just taken off the heat because if water gets into the egg whites during transfer, they won't whip up properly). Whip on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm peaks and are cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, cut the softened butter into 1 tbsp chunks (8 chunks per stick of butter) and once the egg whites hold firm peaks, lower the speed to medium and add the butter one chunk at a time, allowing it to incorporate into the egg mixture for about 20 seconds before adding the next one. Continue to add until all the butter is incorporated.

Here's the thing with buttercream: you need patience and faith. At first, the mixture will look soupy and you will a little skeptical. Then, as more butter is incorporated, it's going to look soupy and curdled, and then you will be afraid that it's never going to come together. Then, it's going to look really curdled and disgusting, and you will want to cry and throw it out. Don't, just keep mixing. I promise that just when you think it's reached its most curdled and disgusting point, it's going to magically turn into smooth, beautiful, thick buttercream.

When the buttercream is thick and smooth, add the Nutella and mix slowly to combine, scraping down the bowl if necessary.

Frosting and Garnishing the Cake

I like to fill and frost the cake with the Nutella buttercream and sliced strawberries. And garnish and decorate the top of the cake with a ring of fresh whole or halved strawberries.

Be sure to keep the cake tightly wrapped and refrigerated, otherwise the strawberries will quickly sour. However, do not serve this cake cold, both the cake and the buttercream are dense and need to soften. Take teh cake out of the refridgerator at least one hour before serving.