This old fashioned chocolate layer cake is decadent with chocolate butter cream and homemade buttery toffee. Our pastry chefs call it ‘The Birthday cake.’ It has gone through several incantations over the last 24 years, reflecting the influence of our fancy and professional friendships. The cake began with Lutz Olkiewicz, a former Gold Medal Pastry recipient, and his gift to us of his award-winning Chocolate Sour Cream Cake recipe. Next came Dame Deann Bayless’s Chocolate Butter cream frosting that swathed Frontera’s chocolate cake. Finally, while we’ve always used toffee on the outside, it wasn’t perfect until we found Dame Elaine Gonzales toffee recipe in her book The Art of Chocolate. If you remember Bob Bemm’s legendary toffee, then you’ll love Elaine’s, but I’m not telling.
1. Make each of these (recipes follows)
- A. Sour cream chocolate cake
- B. One recipe simple syrup
- C. One recipe chocolate ganache
- D. One recipe chocolate frosting
- E. 1 pound prepared chocolate-covered toffee pieces (for garnish)
2. Trim chocolate sour cream cake layers and sprinkle each with approximately 2 1/2 tablespoons (57g) simple syrup.
3. Place one trimmed and soaked chocolate cake layer into the bottom of an 8” pan. Deposit chocolate frosting onto cake layer. Spread out and smooth surface of mousse.
4. Chill in freezer, to set cake, for one hour. Remove cake from pan. Frost entire cake, top and sides, with chocolate frosting. Chill for one hour.
5. Place cake on a screen over a sheet pan (to catch drips); pour warm ganache over the cake, completely covering the top and sides. Let set for 10 minutes.
Transfer cake from screen onto a cake turntable. Break chocolate-covered toffee pieces into large shards. Randomly place large shards of toffee pieces onto the top and on the sides of the cake. Chill for one hour.
6. Spray top and sides with cocoa spray. Garnish with edible gold dust or gold leaf, if desired.
2 cups (453g) granulated sugar
2 cups (453g) water
In a medium saucepan, mix sugar and water. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
3/4 cup (79g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup (189g) water
11 tablespoons (157g) unsalted butter, softened
Scant 1 cup (189g) granulated sugar
1 cup (189g) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon (3.5g) pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (232g) sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
Scant 1 cup (209g) cultured sour cream
Mix together cocoa powder and water until smooth and set aside. In an electric mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. With mixer on low speed, slowly add eggs and vanilla. Sift together all dry ingredients. With mixer on low speed, alternately add sour cream and dry ingredients to bowl, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour into a greased and floured 8” pan and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool and remove from pan.
8 ounces (226g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 ounces (226g) semi sweet chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons (6 ounces or 170g) salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (198g) powdered sugar
4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 56g) brewed coffee, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons (7g) pure vanilla extract
Melt unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate together in Bain Marie. Set aside. Cook eggs in Bain Marie, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a temperature of 145°F. In an electric mixer bowl, cream together butter and powdered sugar. Add melted chocolate and mix on low speed until incorporated. Keeping the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cooked eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Add vanilla and coffee and mix for 1 minute on medium speed.
1 pound (454g) good quality semi-sweet Chocolate, chopped
2 cups (454g) heavy cream
Place chopped chocolate into a large mixing bowl. In a medium saucepan, scold heavy cream. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.