If you voted on Facebook for my birthday cake of choice this was the winner! This cake is not for the faint of heart. It is loaded with white chocolate, espresso, half and half and butter; a delicious combination that results in a tender, beautifully textured cake full of my favorite flavors. If one shot of espresso is not enough, I added a buttercream infused with an espresso caramel sauce. It’s like caramel that has gone to the dark side. Together this cakey team is a force (lol!) to reckon with.
In graduate school there was a local coffee shop called The Beanery that served amazing white mochas. My scientific partner in crime, Kristine, and I made many a trip to their corner shop to fuel our Biophysics calculations. I have been a fan of this white chocolate espresso combination ever since. My latte love inspired this White Mocha Cake.
If you have made a cake with coffee or espresso before you may have noted that the flavor fades after a day or two. To ensure that this cake maintained a coffee kick I added ground espresso beans and steeped them in half and half to not only permeate the batter but to act as a time-released flavor maker.I also melted rich white chocolate into the half and half-espresso mix to create a union of coffee-shop flavors that fill out the cake. I chose a white chocolate with a high cocoa butter content, the Casa Luker 34% Nevado White Chocolate, which was graciously sent to me by Ayi from Pastry Portal. This white chocolate has an intense cocoa butter flavor which shines through in this cake .The buttercream on this cake is really something special. One of the benefits of making Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) with my crazy method is that you can add flavors from the beginning stages. This allows you to incorporate more intense flavors than would be possible if you added them at that end as with traditional SMBC methods. The addition of espresso to the caramel sauce really elevates the flavor profile. It takes on something of a rich toasted marshmallow flavor. The caramel itself is a beautiful mahogany that tints this buttercream with a warm butterscotch hue. I made this SMBC with white sugar but you could increase the molasses notes by using brown sugar in addition to the caramel. Yum!All of these strong flavors give this cake somewhat of a manly edge. This would make an awesome cake for Father’s Day or an incredible groom’s cake. Not just for the men in your life, the fine texture and white chocolate warmth draw a feminine edge as well.
I hope you enjoy this birthday cake choice of mine!
- 1 cup (8 fluid ounces, or 240 milliliters) half and half*
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) finely ground espresso beans
- 7 ounces (198 grams) white chocolate, chopped if in block form
- 8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened-1 cup
- 3 large eggs cool
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 14 ounces (397 grams) granulated sugar-2 cups
- 12 ounces (340 grams) all-purpose flour-2 ½ cups
- 1 ounce (28 grams) potato starch or cornstarch-about 4 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon (4 milliliters) salt
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) water
- 7 ounces (198 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ ounce (14 grams) corn syrup
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon (1 milliliter) salt
- ¼ cup (60 milliliters) brewed espresso or double strength coffee
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 9 ounces (255 grams) Espresso Caramel sauce
- 8 ounces (227 grams) granulated sugar
- 8 ounces (227 grams) egg whites
- 16 ounces (454 grams) unsalted butter, cool room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
- In a microwave safe container with a pour spout that is at least 3 cups (720 milliliters) in volume, combine the half and half and the espresso beans. Heat in microwave on high until hot, about 1-2 minutes; watch carefully to avoid boiling over. Add the white chocolate and whisk to combine. Heat again briefly if necessary to melt chocolate completely. Cool for a few minutes and then whisk in eggs and vanilla and cool to room temperature
- Beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes on medium-high speed of mixer. Sprinkle in dry ingredients to distribute. Turn mixer on low and mix to moisten dry ingredients. Pour in espresso-egg mixture gradually with speed still on low speed, then increase speed and beat on medium for one minute until well combined and smooth.
- Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the cake is well done. Do not under bake or this rich cake will be unstable. The cake should begin to settle back on itself on the edges. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with Espresso Caramel Buttercream or your buttercream of choice. Enjoy!
- *If you don't have access to half and half you can use 2/3 cup (160 mL) low fat milk (1-2% fat) and 1/3 cup (80 mL) heavy cream (36%), or 3/4 cup (180 mL) whole milk (3.25%) and 1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream for the equivalent of half and half.
- Note: This cake makes two thick 8-inch layers that rise to the top of a 2-inch tall pan. Alternatively you could bake this in three 8-inch round pans or two 9-inch round pans if you choose.
- Place the water in a heavy bottomed medium sauce pan and add sugar carefully to the middle of the pan. Add corn syrup without stirring. Cover and bring to a boil without stirring over medium high heat. Remove lid, add a candy thermometer, and heat until the mixture reaches 300 F (149 C). Reduce heat to low and heat to 350 F (177 C) watching carefully to avoid overheating and burning the sugar.
- While the sugar cooks, combine the cream, salt and espresso in a microwave safe container and heat until hot (1-2 minutes) taking care to ensure that the mixture does not boil over.
- When the caramel reaches 350 F (177 C) immediately remove from heat and pour in 1/3 of the cream mixture. Be careful! This will emit scalding steam like crazy! When the bubbling subsides pour in the remaining cream mixture in two batches and stir well to combine. Stir in vanilla extract.
- Note: Making homemade caramel is totally not necessary for this recipe. To save time buy a good quality store-bought caramel and stir 2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons water into 9 ounces of caramel. Use this in the following buttercream.
- Whisk Espresso Caramel, sugar and egg whites together in a microwave-safe bowl; Make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high in 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 f/72 C. (Alternatively this step can be carried out in a double boiler over simmering water). Pour the syrup into a cake pan or shallow metal bowl and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it is quite cool.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer for 2 minutes on high until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. Add the cooled syrup in two additions to the butter beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds until smooth; use immediately.
- You can store this buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.