Mocha Layer Cake with Sour Cream Ganache

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This is the part of the story, dear reader, where one of my favorite chocolate cakes gets all dressed up and goes to the ball.

This dessert is a riff on my Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake. This version is hopped up on a little espresso, and baked in a springform pan to produce a single, round cake.

I split the cake into two layers, filled it with whipped cream spiked with cocoa powder and some more espresso. I frosted it with a tangy sour cream ganache, then blanketed the top with a hefty sprinkle of chocolate shavings.

Sour cream ganache

A traditional chocolate ganache is made with two ingredients: melted chocolate and heavy cream. I crossed my fingers and substituted sour cream for the heavy cream—and it worked beautifully!

Seriously? It was all that I could do to keep from eating the frosting by the spoonful. (Thank you, Breakstone’s…I never would have thought that sour cream would be so delicious in a chocolate frosting…)

Be still my heart (I think I’m in love)

Now, when it comes to my dessert, I have a confession to make: For someone who decidedly doesn’t have a sweet tooth (no really, I don’t), I ate a lot of this Mocha Layer Cake.

(Like, a lot.)

One of the reasons that I love this cake is that it looks impressive, but it’s ridiculously easy to make—even for folks who don’t have a lot of experience baking. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool completely before you can fill and frost it.

The cake itself is one of those old-fashioned, one-bowl wonders.

Drop the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir it just until the batter comes together, and pop it into the oven. A drizzle of espresso in the batter really enhances the chocolate flavor. The mocha whipped cream filling is light and airy—which is a great contrast to the fudgy chocolate ganache frosting.

This is also my last entry in the Breakstone’s Triple Churned Challenge. If you like what you see, please consider voting for my menu! (When you vote, you’ll be entered to win $300!)

My last recipe for the Breakstone’s Triple Churned Challenge

So, we’ve been challenged!

That’s right! The good folks from Breakstone’s threw down the gauntlet, and we picked it right up (mice love found things, after all). Here’s the scoop on The Breakstone’s Triple Churned Challenge.

Vote today and be entered to win $300

Breakstone’s challenged me and three other gals to create an appetizer, entree, and dessert using their Triple Churned Sour Cream.

This contest is sponsored by Breakstone’s and the winner will be chosen by reader vote. Readers can vote for their favorite recipes here once a day. The grand prize is $3,000 (how cool is that?)!

And every time you vote, you’ll be entered to win a $300. The more you vote, the greater your chances to win. (Thanks, Breakstone’s!)

If you missed it, here’s my entry in the appetizer category: Panko & Chili Crusted Oven Fried Chicken Fingers.

And my entry in the entree category: Spicy White Pizza with Bacon, Shrimp & Asparagus.

 

Mocha Layer Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Ganache

Mocha Cake
1 Tbls. instant espresso powder
1 Tbls. water
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
2 Tbls. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups water
spray oil to grease the pan

Mocha Filling
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbls. instant espresso powder
1 Tbls. water

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups Breakstone’s sour cream

Yields 1 (9 1/2-inch) cake

Line your springform pan with a parchment paper round

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

I make this cake in a springform pan, which is one of these babies (it has a removable bottom and a clip that opens the outer ring so you can slide it off easily).

Skip this part if you know how to do this. If not, here’s how to line your springform pan in a jiffy.

Cut a piece of parchment paper that’s about as wide as your cake pan. Fold it in quarters.

Trim the edge so the folded paper looks like a slice of pizza and fits well in your pan, with the point in the center.

Open it up and see how it fits (if it’s a little too big, that’s just fine…).

When your round fits, lightly grease the bottom of your pan and stick the round down. Check to be sure that the bottom and sides are secure so your batter doesn’t leak out. Set it aside while you whip up the batter.

Make the cake batter

Grab your instant espresso. I like Ferrara brand, and keep my jar in the fridge to keep it fresh.

Toss the espresso crystals in a small bowl.

Add the water. Stir to dissolve. Set aside for a minute.

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Mix them together with a whisk or fork until uniform.


Pour in olive oil. (See? This cake is even good for your heart!)

Add the water and the vinegar.

Toss in the vanilla and the espresso.

Whisk it together, breaking up any lumps as you go, until the batter just comes together.

You don’t want to overbeat the batter. (Stirring too much encourages the gluten in the flour to develop, which can lead to a tough—not tender—cake.) Your batter will be thick.

Pour it into your prepared pan.

Bake the cake

Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven and bake for 60-65 minutes. Keep an eye on it after about 45 minutes or so. If you see that the edges are starting to brown/burn a little, slip a piece of foil loosely over the cake as it finishes baking.

Yank it out of the oven when it’s done (the top will be firm and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean).

If the top of your cake cracks, that’s just fine. (After all, you’re just going to slather it in frosting.)

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes. Then remove the ring and finish cooling it on a rack.

As hard as it can be, wait until the cake is totally cool before you cut it to ice and frost it. If the cake is warm, the filling and frosting will melt and you’ll be very sad.

Make the ganache

Do this before you make the filling, because it has to cool a little before you can spread it. Put the chocolate chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Zap them in the microwave for about a minute on high, stopping every 20 seconds or so to stir. You want to melt the chocolate completely…

Like this. (If you don’t have a microwave, you can totally melt them in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.)

(Nom nom nom…)

Add the Breakstone’s sour cream to the melted chocolate.

Mix the two together.

Resist the urge to sit down with the bowl and a spoon.

Stir until the mixture is uniform.

Set it aside to cool.

Cut the cake into two layers

Wait to do this until your cake is completely cool. (Cutting warm cake and not immediately devouring it can make the cake gummy.)

I use a cake cutter to do this. (If you make a lot of cakes, this is the best 12 bucks you’ll ever spend. It makes splitting your cake ridiculously easy.) If you don’t have one, use a serrated bread knife and just do your best to keep it level. (Although, anyone who would complain about uneven cake layers should be boiled in oil…)

You can adjust the thickness of your layers by moving the wire up and down.

Cut the cake into two even layers.

Carefully separate them. (Again, if you crack one, don’t freak out. Cake layers are delicate, and sometimes they do break. This whole business is going to get covered in whipped cream and frosting. You’ll be able to piece it together just fine.) Leave them be for a minute while you make the whipped cream.

Make the mocha filling

Dissolve the espresso in water in a small bowl.

Put the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of your mixer.

Mix them together quickly to combine.

Drizzle the cream in with your mixer running on low.

Add the espresso.

Raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the whipped cream forms stiff peaks. (The mixture will stand up in a point on your beater.)

It should look about like this.

Fill and frost the cake

Grab the bottom layer of your cake. Set it on your serving platter. (Trust me, do this now. You’re not going to want to move this sucker once it’s frosted.)

Add the whipped cream in the center.

Spread it to the edges with a spatula.

Set the other piece of cake on top like a hat.

Gently (gently!) press down on it with flat palms (to distribute the force).

By now, your frosting should be cool to about room temperature. It’ll be thick and glossy. Spread it over the top and sides of the cake.

Cover with chocolate shavings.

(To make these, set a piece of wax paper on the counter. Take a carrot peeler to a big block of chocolate and grate ribbons onto the wax paper. Watch your fingers.)

Pop the cake in the fridge, uncovered, to chill for like an hour. It’ll set up, and generally get happy.

Slice. Serve. Inhale. Repeat.

‘Nuff said.

I was going to delete this picture, until The Angry Chef told me it looks like the Millennium Falcon. (This cake has made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. It’s outrun Imperial starships!)(Sorry.)

Enjoy!

Serves 12-14

Mocha Layer Cake with Sour Cream Ganache

This is my Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake, hopped up on espresso, then filled with whipped cream spiked with cocoa powder and more espresso. It's frosted with a tangy sour cream ganache, then blanketed with chocolate shavings. Talk about heaven!

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Ingredients

Mocha Cake
1 Tbls. instant espresso powder
1 Tbls. water
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
2 Tbls. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups water
spray oil to grease the pan
Mocha Filling
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbls. instant espresso powder
1 Tbls. water
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups Breakstone's sour cream

Instructions

  1. Line your springform pan with a parchment paper round.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Toss the espresso crystals in a small bowl. Add the water. Stir to dissolve. Set aside for a minute.
  4. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix them together with a whisk or fork until uniform.
  5. Add the olive oil, water, and vinegar, vanilla, and espresso. Whisk it together, breaking up any lumps as you go, until the batter just comes together.
  6. Pour it into your prepared pan.
  7. Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven and bake for 60-65 minutes. Keep an eye on it after about 45 minutes or so. If you see that the edges are starting to brown/burn a little, slip a piece of foil loosely over the cake as it finishes baking. Yank it out of the oven when it's done (the top will be firm and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean).
  8. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes. Then remove the ring and finish cooling it on a rack. WAIT until the cake is totally cool before you cut it to ice and frost it. If the cake is warm, the filling and frosting will melt off.
  9. Make the ganache: Put the chocolate chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Zap them in the microwave for about a minute on high, stopping every 20 seconds or so to stir. When they're totally melted, stir the Breakstone's sour cream into to the melted chocolate. Mix until uniform. Set it aside to cool.
  10. Cut the cake into two even layers. Carefully separate them. Leave them be for a minute while you make the whipped cream.
  11. Make the mocha whipped cream: Dissolve the espresso in water in a small bowl. Put the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of your mixer. Mix them together quickly to combine. Drizzle the cream in with your mixer running on low. Add the espresso. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the whipped cream forms stiff peaks.
  12. Fill and frost the cake: Grab the bottom layer of your cake. Set it on your serving platter. Add the whipped cream in the center. Spread it to the edges with a spatula. Set the other piece of cake on top like a hat. Gently (gently!) press down on it with flat palms (to distribute the force). Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Cover with chocolate shavings.
  14. Pop the cake in the fridge, uncovered, to chill for like an hour. It'll set up, and generally get happy.
  15. Slice. Serve. Inhale. Repeat.
http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2010/04/07/mocha-layer-cake-with-sour-cream-ganache/

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

43 COMMENTS

    • Hey lady,

      You can totally make this with 2 cake pans. I’d use 8-inch or 9-inch round pans. Same temperature, just less time in the oven because they’re not as tall. I’d start checking them after 20-25 minutes. Let me know how it goes?

      +Jessie

  1. Not to jinx it or anything, but you are going to dominate that Breakstone’s challenge!
    I just voted (for you of course)!
    Keep at it girl

  2. Oh my! I’m having a sugar high from just reading the recipe. I think I fell in love with this ganache. I’ve been feeling lazy to bake a cake these days but this one is going to happen. Thank you for this recipe and for the helpful step-by-step photos!

  3. hey…
    thanku soooooooooo much 4 this wonderful recipe….made it 2day n it proved 2 b a super duper hit at home n evry1 luuuuuvd it….im very happy….: )

    • I actually use regular, all-purpose flour from King Arthur. You could totally use cake flour, though, which would give you a more tender crumb. (Just don’t use self-rising flour, which has baking powder & salt in it…)

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

  4. This ig going to be my Birthday cake for sure!!! Thank you so much!! Just in time for the 25th of May!!!

  5. I was completely frustrated making your cake. I followed the directions to a T and the cake came out flat ( in the ingredients list you have to use baking soda and in the step by step directions you have baking soda – so which one is it) I made 3 cakes before I decided to use 2 of the cakes cut them and put them together. The icing came out runny. I was making this for my husband’s birthday – I was completely disappointed! Make sure you have the recipe right before you post it.

    • Oh, wow. That was a typo on the instructions, sorry about that. I corrected it. If you had shot me an email to ask, I probably would have been able to help you right away.

      As for the cake and the recipe, I’m not sure what went wrong with yours, but I’ve made this cake several times and have never had any problems with it. Sorry yours didn’t work out.

      +Jessie

    • Nope, no eggs. 😀 This is a take on my old-fashioned chocolate cake, which is one of those wartime beauties that didn’t call for scarce ingredients like milk or eggs… Thin batter is fine. Let me know how it turns out!

      +Jessie

  6. tried making your cake. good recipe, but have a few suggestions. when mixing the sour cream and melted chocolate i got a very grainy result. i had to warm the mixture over hot water and add an extra six ounces of chocolate. i am wondering if the sourcream was too cold, maybe allowing it to sit at room temperature before combining with chocolate would be helpful. the end result was really pretty good. i am a fan of espresso, so i added a little extra to the filling, might have liked a little more in the cake too. overall, a very creative, simple cake….would definitely make again. great idea using a spring form pan rather than two round pans. only one pan to prep and no worries of uneven layers. happy baking! thank you for your recipe.

  7. Made this for Valentine’s Day for my husband and I, and also gave large chunks of it away to friends and neighbors. Within hours I had phone calls from everyone begging for just a bit more! To die for so I’m off to the kitchen to make another, I think six months and thirteen days was a respectable although very long wait for a second piece!

  8. Does the ganache icing get hard after it has set in the fridge or does it stay a little bit soft? I don’t really like a hard candy shell like frosting so was just wondering how the ganache comes out. Also after it has set in the fridge do you leave thr assembled cake at room temp in between servings or store the assembled cake in the fridge? Thanks!

  9. This cake is unbelievable I have lost track of how many times I’ve made it but tonight I am making it along with the Guinness ice cream I think I have found Heaven. Thank You

  10. I am a HUGE fan of your blog!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing these AMAZING recipes!!!! I’ve tried this cake which turned out to be EXCELLENT!!! ^^ I LOVE the mocha whip cream filling with sour cream ganache. It just hit the spot! I find you are an excellent cook!

    In fact,I’m going to cook roast duck tomorrow which I’ve been expecting a lot.

  11. Hi again,

    Quick question! ^^ How to do it if I want this cake really really dark?,like almost black.

    Please,reply to it.

  12. Someone asked if it was baking soda or baking soda which does not make sense. My ? Is: recipe say 2 tsp. Baking soda ? Is this correct? No baking power in cake? Making today, so I hope recipe is correct.

    • The leavening in this cake is like a red velvet cake. It uses baking soda and vinegar instead of baking powder. Gives it a different texture!

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