Christmas Day at about 1:00 PM is not the time to be looking for heavy cream in San Luis Obispo. When my first attempt at the white chocolate cream for this cake (at about 8:00 AM on Christmas Day) turned into butter, I was mildly panicked. After finding that the first two grocery stores we visited were closed, the panic was no longer mild. Mike assured me that all was not lost and that we would find more heavy cream and white chocolate, but I was extremely dubious.
Our third attempt at Operation Find an Open Grocery Store was actually successful, but of course, they were COMPLETELY out of all varieties of heavy cream. I grabbed a bag of white chocolate chips, figuring I could somehow improvise a filling or frosting to stand in for the white chocolate whipped cream, but by now Mike was on a mission and was determined that he would find me some cream. The little market around the corner from our house was open, but cream-less, so he decided to head to Starbucks. I thought there was no way they would sell him just cream, but a few minutes later he returned with a Grande cup full of heavy cream, which they’d sold him for $2.90. Thank you, Starbucks, for saving this cake!
Other than over-beating the cream the first time (honestly, when it looks like it’s holding nice peaks, just STOP the mixer! Those extra few seconds will take it from perfect to butter and then there’s no going back!) the making of this cake went pretty smoothly. The layers were a little thin and I had a hard time slicing them evenly, so I might consider baking the batter in 8″ round pans next time. Also, it seemed like the recipe didn’t make enough of the white chocolate cream, so I made a chocolate disk to cover the thinly-iced top of the cake.
I love the way the alternating layers of dark chocolate, white cake, and white chocolate whipped cream look, and the flavor was delicious. Dorie’s recipes haven’t failed me yet! If you’re still looking for a dessert to make for New Years Eve, I think this one would be perfect!
adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line the bottoms of two 8 or 9″ round pans with parchment. Spray with nonstick spray.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl.
Beat the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy and smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the yolk and vanilla and let the mixer run for one minute. The mixture may look curdled, but that’s fine.
Scoop about 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the mixer and mix on low until the streaks of flour disappear. Scrape down the bowl. Add 1/2 the buttermilk and mix on low until the batter is uniform. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk, ending with the flour.
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Rotate the pans in the oven halfway through the baking time. Cool in the pans on a rack for about 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
Dark Chocolate Cream:
2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
7 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
Heat the milk until simmering in a small saucepan.
In a separate medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. While whisking, carefully add about 1/4 cup of hot milk into the eggs. When it’s uniform, gradually pour the remaining hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Heat over medium, whisking constantly, and let boil for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then add the butter. Stir until smooth, then place the pan in an ice bath until it is cool, stirring occasionally.
White Chocolate Whipped Cream
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler. In a separate saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer.
Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the simmering cream. Transfer the top of the double boiler to an ice bath and stir with a rubber spatula until cool.
Beat the remaining cup of heavy cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. When it holds soft peaks, beat in the white chocolate mixture (be sure that it is completely cool!) and beat on high until it holds firm peaks. Be sure you stop before the texture turns grainy!
Transfer to a medium bowl and press plastic wrap onto the top. Refrigerate for at least two hours
Decorative chocolate disk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
Line the bottom of a 6″ round cake pan with parchment paper. Melt the semisweet chips in the top of a double boiler with the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then pour into the prepared pan. Transfer to the refrigerator to harden.
Once the dark chocolate disk is firm, melt the white chocolate chips and put into a piping bag. Run a knife around the inside of the cake pan and turn the disk out. Remove the parchment, then decorate the dark chocolate as desired. Return to the refrigerator to set the white chocolate.
To assemble the cake:
Carefully slice each cake layer horizontally in half, using a thin serrated knife.
Place one layer onto a plate and top with an even layer of dark chocolate cream. Place another layer of cake on top of that, and top with about 1 cup of the white chocolate cream. Repeat with another layer of cake, then dark chocolate cream. Place the final cake layer on top, then coat with remaining white chocolate whipped cream.
Center the chocolate disk on the top of the cake, then refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours.
Note: The disk will be difficult to slice through, so I just cut slices under it, then broke it into pieces to serve alongside the cake.