Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kahlua Cake

Wow! This picture about sums it up. I found this recipe last week on Love & Olive Oil, except she had used bourbon in hers. However, I read the recipe and moved on with my life. Then, this week, I had to buy Kahlua to use in my Irish creme cookies. The store only had one size of Kahlua (large) and the recipe only called for a small amount. So here I was thinking, "What am I gonna do with the rest of this Kahlua?" Yes, you might say, "White Russians!" But I enjoy my wine and I wanted to do something unique with it besides drinking. After taking a little trip down memory lane, I remembered reading this recipe and thought, "This is it! I'll make this cake and substitute Kahlua for the bourbon." Yes!!!! So glad that I remembered because this cake was (is) delicious.

The cake is slightly dense, but very moist, and you occasionally hit a hot pocket of Kahlua. The ganache between the layers is spot on and the buttercream is light and fluffy. I could literally eat the whole cake (okay...maybe not the whole cake). And I'm sure you could substitute other alcohol as well....just have to try it out.

Kahlua Layer Cake (extremely slightly adapted from Love & Olive Oil)
     Makes 1 8-inch layer cake (about 16 servings depending on how big of a slice you want)

For the Cake:
1 vanilla bean split and scraped, seeds reserved
1/2 cup Kahlua
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
5 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp almond extract

For Buttercream:
4 ounces dark chocolate
6 ounces milk chocolate
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For Ganache:
4 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Kahlua

Combine the Kahlua and vanilla bean together in a small bowl. Steep overnight or as long as possible before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 3 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, butter, and reserved vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically as needed. Add almond extract.

Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Immediately add the Kahlua (discarding the vanilla pod) and mix until combined.

Divide the batter among the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and springy. Removed from the oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of the pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use.

For the ganache, place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer over low heat. Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until smooth. Add Kahlua. Set aside and allow to cool until thickened slightly. If it's too thick, you can add a little more hot cream and stir until smooth.

For the buttercream, melt chocolates in the microwave or double boiler over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cooled chocolate and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar and/or heavy cream as necessary until desired consistency is achieved.

To assemble: level each cake with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or platter. Place 4 strips of parchment or wax paper just under the edges of the cake to keep the platter clean. Spread half of the ganache evenly over the top of the layer, followed by about 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining ganache, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and last cake layer, flat side up. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow "crumb coat" to set. Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream.

Enjoy! I know I did :)

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