Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chocolate Almond Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

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I'm watching The Biggest Loser online as I soften butter and scoop sugar and bake for hours on end. Definitely one of my favorite hobby combinations. 

Just a warning about this buttercream, the recipe below makes waaaay more than you need and the flavor is rich and buttery perfect. It also freezes really well if you're not in the mood to cuddle up with your mixing bowl. And it is kind of a pain to make in small batches, so go for the whole big thing! You won't be sorry, unless of course you have no self-control. In which case, I can relate.

I mean, do you see those gorgeous vanilla bean flecks throughout all that oozing, fluffy buttercream? Probably you'll only use about 2-3 cups for the layer cake and maybe a little more than that if you smother cupcakes like I do. Awesome. And the toasted almonds on top give the perfect little crunch, so don't skip those!

Chocolate Almond Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream [click to print]
Makes one 2-layer 6" cake or about 12 cupcakes

For the Cake
  • 1 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 T. almond flour*
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. sour milk
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. almond slices, toasted
For the Buttercream (makes about 8 cups)

  • 10 egg whites (about 1 cup)
  • 2 c. sugar, granulated not powdered!
  • 2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. vanilla bean paste (OR seeds from one vanilla bean OR 1 T. vanilla extract)

*If you don't have almond flour, you can just use all-purpose flour instead, the almond flavor won't be quite as strong but will definitely still be delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare two 6" cake pans with parchment paper or coat bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Alternately, prepare muffin tin with liners or coat generously with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Add butter, milk, water, extract and egg. Mix just until no butter chunks remain and mixture looks even. Spread batter into cake pans or scoop into cupcake liners. Bake cake layers for 32-38 minutes or cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched.

Meanwhile, get working on that buttercream! You can make this ahead of time, too, if you want. It keeps great in the refrigerator or freezer.

Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water and nest a heat safe bowl (like ceramic or glass) on top, but don't let that bowl touch the water! Whisk together egg whites and sugar until well combined and bring water to a simmer. Continue whisking until the sugar melts completely and the mixture reaches 160 F and the sugar is completely melted. Test this by rubbing a drop between your fingers and if it's still gritty, keep heating and whisking.

Once smooth, remove from double boiler and whisk in salt. Pour mixture into bowl of stand mixer and mix on high speed with whisk attachment. Once the mixture comes to room temperature, about 10-15 minutes, you'll have a beautiful meringue.

Change to the paddle attachment, if you have one, and add butter to the meringue, about 2 Tablespoons at a time. Make sure each chunk is fully incorporated before adding the next bit. Continue adding butter until all chunks are fully incorporated and mixture is smooth and creamy. Add extract and mix to combine. 

Troubleshooting woes...At this point, you may be getting nervous because your buttercream is looking a little strange, but don't give up! If it's runny or soupy...stick the whole bowl in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to firm up and then whip on medium-high speed until it gets smooth. If it's curdled and sick-looking...just keep mixing! It will smooth out and look delicious again.

Source: Cupcake recipe adapted from Oh SO Delicioso; Buttercream adapted from Lemon Ombre Cake with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream


  1. Go Molly, Go Molly Hooray!!!
    That cake looks so delicious, just watch the picture isn't enough for my. I wish, I could just reach it over the picture and give it a big bite, that will be something good to do like a dream come true.
    Have a great day. =)

  2. Thanks! You'll have to let me know if you give the recipe a try!

  3. I'm dreaming of a big bite, too! All that buttercream oozing out the sides makes such a pretty picture, and makes me hungry for a great treat, too!


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