Tuesday, February 5, 2008

TWD: Black and White Chocolate Cake

This week's recipe was chosen by April of Abby Sweets: the Black and White Chocolate Cake. I have to admit that when I saw that this recipe was chosen, I was a bit intimidated. I'm not much of a cake maker/decorator. I've only made one or two layer cakes in my life. But I felt up to the challenge. As I set out to make the cake, I knew one thing was certain: my cake would not look nearly as pretty as Dorie's! I did not have any pieces of chocolate large enough to create chocolate curls as suggested in the recipe, so I decorated my cake with chocolate shavings.

The dark chocolate cream is fairly simple to make, as long as you are very careful about tempering the eggs. When making the white chocolate whipped cream, be sure to stop as soon as you get firm peaks, as over-beating it will cause it to separate (not pretty, but still tasty). Fortunately, I was able to make each component of this cake without much trouble; however, I did run into a bit of a problem while assembling the cake. The instructions for the white chocolate whipped cream indicate that you should refrigerate the cream for a minimum of 2 hours before proceeding. I did so, but found that the cream was not firm enough to work with after the 2 hours. So, as I topped the white chocolate whipped cream layer with the final layer of cake, I did not have any issues. However, it was when I went to spread the second layer of dark chocolate cream on top that I found that the light pressure I had to apply to evenly spread my dark chocolate was enough to cause quite a bit of my white chocolate whipped cream to start oozing out the sides of the cake! I consequently ended up with a very small white layer in the middle of my cake. Thankfully, it didn't affect the taste of the cake at all ;) So my advice to anyone planning on making this cake it to be sure to refrigerate your white chocolate whipped cream for at least 4-6 hours before attempting assembly of the cake.

If you are looking for a great cake, you've found it in Dorie's Black and White Chocolate Cake. The cake itself is super moist and delicious; the dark chocolate custard is rich and creamy; and the white chocolate whipped cream is so sweet and light.

Our group has grown exponentially since Laurie of Quirky Cupcake started Tuesdays with Dorie! We've welcomed several new members this week! Visit our new blog to see our blog roll and who the new members are. While you're there, don't forget to check out everyone's chocolately creations from this week.

Black and White Chocolate Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For the Cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 sticks (10 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the Dark Chocolate Cream:
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2-1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temperature

For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate (such as Valrhona Ivoire or Guittard), finely chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Chocolate shavings or curls, dark or white or a combination, for decoration (optional)

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake:

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To Make the Dark Chocolate Cream:
Bring the milk to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk - this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle - then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with the cream into a large bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To Make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil.

When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature - it can't be the least bit warm when you add it to the whipped cream.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks. Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

To Assemble the Cake:
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place one layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.

Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream. (You'll have some dark chocolate cream left over - use it as a dip for madeleines or sables.) Top with the final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and top with the remaining white chocolate whipped cream. If you'd like to decorate the top with chocolate shavings or curls, do it now.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Remove the cake from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut it. Though the cake is particularly good with coffee or tea, it also goes well with a sweet or sparkling dessert wine.

While both the dark chocolate cream and white chocolate cream can be made ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator, once assembled, the cake is best after about 3 hours in the fridge. However, it can be refrigerated overnight - just cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.

Yield: 10 servings


  1. looks like a lot of work to me, but i'll bet it's worth every single nanosecond of labor.
    whoever told you that you aren't much of a cake maker was lying--it looks professionally done! good work!

  2. For someone who doesn't make layer cakes all that much, you did a great job with the layers.
    Looks great.

  3. This looks great too! I love the decoration on the top. Really makes a gorgeous presentation.

  4. It looks beautiful! Great job!

  5. I think your cake looks beautiful! The way you decorated the top is great and I think your layers are fabulous. I'm also a big fan of your photography in general :)

  6. You did a great job. Your cake looks beautiful!

  7. hope this significantly boosts your cake making confidence....beautiful!

  8. It looks fab! Your layers are perfect and the curls on top are soo pretty. Beautiful job!

  9. Looks great! I'm looking forward to seeing you guys make the peppermint creampuff ring thing. I tried that out and it was not a success.

  10. I love the chocolate bits on top. So pretty!

  11. That cake looks so good!! Both the dark and the white chocolate creams sounds really nice. Bookmarked to try.

  12. Beautiful job decorating it - yours looks great!

  13. Oh no.. Now I am hungry for cake and it isn't even 7am here!

  14. One of my favorite things to bake has got to be tall layered cakes. I'll have to bookmark this recipe and try it soon!! Yum!

  15. Your cakes look gorgeous! (all of them) Thanks for dropping by my blog and good luck with your first DB challenge!

  16. I was eyeing this cake myself. Yours looks like it turned out pretty darn good! I gor the Dori cookbook for Christmas also but I dont think my waistline will let me join TWD.
    Welcome to the Daring Bakers. I think were up to like 600 now. Your TWD is growing leaps and bound too!

  17. I've been thinking of joining TWD too. Thinking maybe I shouldn't start that and DB in the same month though! Your cake looks gorgeous!

  18. This cake looks so good! I have been thinking about what to make for V-day dessert and this has become a serious option! Thanks! I'm so glad I came across your blog!

  19. Wow! I want a bite! I already copied the recipe and I'll try this soon!

  20. I have made this wonderful cake three times now and all three have resulted in a somewhat dry cake. I follow the recipe to a "T" and am not a novice baker by any means. I followed the directions exactly, right down to only combining the wet and dry ingredients only until blended. Can someone help? I'd love for my cake to turn out moist...and not dry and heavy. Thanks!

  21. anonymous - i'm sorry you keep getting a dry cake; i have not had that issue at all. it is hard to say what is going wrong but my thought would be that either your oven temp is off (do you have an oven thermometer?) or you are simply over baking it and i would try to reduce the total baking time by a few minutes to see if you get a more moist cake. give it a try and let me know if you have better luck!

  22. I made this cake to your recipe. Splendid in appearance and taste.