Toffee Mocha Cake

I used to avoid toffee. It was just too crunchy and the bits of sugar would get stuck in my teeth and I’d have to try and fish it out with my tongue while trying to look like I wasn’t. No? Just me? I could never bring myself to fish it out with my fingers in public, although I’ve seen many people do it without batting an eye. Ick. I’ve always been partial to caramels and their chew until I made my own toffee. Unlike brittle or a not-so-great toffee, good toffee not only breaks into delightful shards in your mouth (as opposed to the jagged, sharp chips) but disintegrates into a caramel liquid that is pleasant on the tongue and doesn’t stick to your teeth.
This cake is an ode to toffee and coffee. I call it a mocha cake because there are layers of chocolate cake in the center and chocolate + coffee = mocha. If I had it my way though, it would really be a toffee coffee chocolate cake. What a mouthful.
The cake itself is well balanced with a salty sweet coffee toffee and its chocolate cake. But if you really don’t want to go through with this over-the-top cake, I’m pleading with you to at least try the toffee. That is one worth taking your time making.

Toffee Mocha Cake
(For a step-by-step video of how I put it together, check out my stories on Instagram (@thebusyspatula)!)

You will need:


Chocolate Cake (recipe below)
Salted Nut Coffee Toffee (recipe below)
Coffee Ganache (recipe below)
Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe below)
Espresso Beans (optional)

Instructions:

  1. On a cake board, place one layer of your chocolate cake.
  2. Spread a thin, but even layer of the coffee buttercream.
  3. Spread a layer of the coffee ganache.
  4. Top with the coffee toffee.
  5. Repeat two more times.
  6. Crumb coat the cake with leftover buttercream and set in freezer for about 10-15 minutes or until the buttercream is firm.
  7. Remove cake from freezer and frost entire cake smoothly.
  8. Garnish the bottom of the cake with crushed coffee toffee.
  9. Place cake in freezer until firm, about 20-30 minutes.
  10. While cake is in the freezer, put the leftover ganache in a squeeze bottle and warm up ganache in a cup of hot water. You want the ganache to be runny enough that it will drip down the sides but not so hot that it will melt the buttercream.
  11. Remove cake from the freezer and do a ganache drip down the side of the cake. Fill the top smoothly with coffee ganache.
  12. Place cake in freezer to set.
  13. In a pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip (I used Wilton’s 1M), swirl buttercream all around the edge of the cake.
  14. Dust the tops of the buttercream with crushed leftover toffee, and garnish each swirl with one espresso bean.

Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c. flour
2 c. sugar
¾ c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk, shaken
½ c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease and line the bottom of four 6” cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter evenly amongst the four cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the cake pans halfway.
  8. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out of cake pan and move onto wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Salted Nut Coffee Toffee:

Ingredients:

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. espresso powder
1 ½ tsp. molasses
¼ tsp. kosher salt
nuts (I used walnuts and sunflower seeds)
flaky salt (I used maldon sea salt)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. On medium-low heat in a small to medium HEAVY saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, mix butter, sugar, espresso powder, molasses and kosher salt together. (I’m emphasizing heavy because I’ve tried with a lighter pan and I ruined my first batch.)
  3. Whisk mixture constantly until temperature reaches 285˚F.
  4. Pour mixture onto the sheet pan and sprinkle your nuts and then the flaky salt.
  5. Let cool and break into shards.

For the Coffee Ganache:

Ingredients:

120 ml. heavy cream
180 g. white chocolate
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, heat heavy cream and white chocolate for one minute. Whisk mixture together until it becomes homogenous. If the white chocolate did not fully melt, microwave at intervals of 30 seconds until melted.
  2. Add in espresso powder and coffee emulsion and whisk.
  3. Pour onto the mocha cake layer and put cake in fridge to set the ganache. About 30 minutes to an hour.

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c. sugar
1 tbsp. espresso powder
7 large egg whites
a pinch of kosher salt
5 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, espresso powder, sugar and salt together.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture continuously until the mixture becomes lighter and no longer grainy.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the bowl into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  5. Mix on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy, and cool (check for this by seeing if the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch).
  6. Add in vanilla extract and butter one stick at a time until a silky smooth frosting forms.
  7. Add 2 tsp. of the coffee emulsion and whip until light brown and homogenous.

Salted nut coffee toffee recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen and All Recipes.
Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Food Network.

Paw Patrol Cake (A How-To Guide)

paw patrol cakeI rarely ever take cake orders in the summer, not since the cake fiasco of 2015. On a hot summer day, I made a two-tiered cake with an assortment of fondant animals that took hours to create. It was too large to refrigerate so we had it sitting at room temperature until it was ready to be delivered. Right when we were about to move it, there was a strange buckling around the edge of the cake. We kept calm and moved it to the car, which even after having the AC on for 30 minutes was not cool, but warm. During the 30-minute ride to our destination, the buckling worsened and the fondant pieces started to warp with the frosting. By the time we got there, the cake looked like the Michelin Man’s arm. It sucked that all my hours of work went down the drain, but it was even worse that I ruined someone’s event. That’s the thing about cakes; they are usually the centerpieces of celebrations and can make or break a party. Since then, I’ve turned down any requests for a cake in the summer. Not because I didn’t want to do it, but more so because I was worried about ruining someone else’s big day.
paw patrol cakeWhen my sister approached me about making a cake, my gut reaction was, “No.” After hearing my reasons, she said that it didn’t matter if the cake was perfect and that her friends were just grateful that I would do it. Knowing that perfection wasn’t what they were after took a load off my back, but that didn’t mean that I would try any less.
how to make paw patrol logoThere is a very popular Pinterest picture of a dog bone shaped Paw Patrol cake (this was the photo I was asked to recreate), but it has no information on the dimensions and how to put it together. And after scouring the internet for information, I decided to make a guide on how to put a cake like this together. Like many of my projects, it is not very difficult, but it is time consuming. I think the overall effect is worth it and even more worth it to see the smiles on kids’ faces.
how to make a paw patrol cakeInstead of using fondant for all of the Paw Patrol logo, I used Wilton’s sugar sheets. It is much more stable for hot and humid weather and it’s great for crisp edges. It is important to have a fresh Xacto knife blade. You want the edges to be super crisp. Almost like you printed the logo onto the cake. I did make a fondant base for the logo so that the logo would not be flat against the cake like paper. Other than that, it’s making a lot of paw prints, which looks simple but it ends up taking more time than anticipated because for every paw print there are 4 parts to be made. This cake has approximately 50 paw prints.
paw patrol cake The most difficult part about the cake part is covering the cake with frosting. There are many circles and lines and it took a while to get the crisp edges. But then again, it might be because I’m a novice at frosting untraditional cake shapes. I’m not complaining, it’s always fun to stretch beyond my comfort zone and try new things.

Paw Patrol Cake

For the Paw Patrol Logo:

You will need:

white fondant
wilton’s sugar sheets in white, red, blue, yellow and silver
silver pearl dust
xacto knife
scissors
water
vodka
small paintbrush (food use only)
paw patrol logo, cut out of paper
paw patrol outer stencil, cut out of paper
paw patrol inner stencil, cut out of paper

Instructions,

  1. Roll out the fondant to ¼ inch thickness and place the paw patrol outer stencil on top of it. Using the xacto knife, cut out the fondant to the shape of the shield. (As shown in picture #1)
  2. Place the outer stencil on top of a silver sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the stencil. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the shape of the outer stencil with the xacto knife. (As shown in picture #2)
  3. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on top of the white fondant and stick the silver sugar sheet cutout on top of it. (As shown in picture #3)
  4. Place the inner stencil on top of a red sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the stencil. Peel off the plastic backing, Cut out the shape of the inner stencil with the xacto knife. (As shown in picture #4)
  5. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on top of the silver sugar sheet and stick the red sugar sheet cutout on top of it. (As shown in picture #5)
  6. Cut out the “PAW” from the paw patrol logo, remembering to keep the yellow border. (As shown in picture #6)
  7. Place the “PAW” letters on top of a yellow sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the letters. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the “PAW” with the xacto knife. (As shown in picture #7)
  8. Cut out the yellow border of the “PAW” from the paw patrol logo.
  9. Place the “PAW” letters on top of a blue sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the letters. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the “PAW” with the xacto knife.
  10. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on the back of the blue “PAW” and stick it onto the yellow “PAW”. (As shown in picture #8)
  11. Cut out the white paw in the middle of the “A” from the paw patrol logo.
  12. Place the paw print on top of a white sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the paw print. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the paw print with the xacto knife.
  13. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on the back of the paw print and stick it onto the middle of the “A”. (As shown in picture #8)
  14. Cut out the white bone from the paw patrol logo.
  15. Place the bone on top of a white sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the bone. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the bone with the xacto knife.
  16. Place the bone on top of a blue sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the bone. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the “PATROL” letters with the xacto knife.
  17. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on the back of the blue letters and stick it onto the white bone. (As shown in picture #9)
  18. Center the “PAW” onto the shield and make sure you know where you want to place it before painting a small amount of water on the back of the letters to place it onto the shield. (As shown in picture #10)
  19. Center the white patrol bone under the “PAW” and make sure you know where you want to place it before painting a small amount of water on the back of the bone to place it onto the shield. (As shown in picture #10)
  20. Mix a small amount of vodka with the silver dust to create a thick silver paint. Brush the silver on the silver shield border to give it a metallic look. Let dry. (As shown in picture #11)

For the Bone Shaped Cake

You will need:

2 batches of vanilla buttermilk cake (recipe below)
1 batch of chocolate frosting (recipe below)
1 batch of vanilla swiss meringue frosting (recipe below)
fondant paw prints (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut all the 6-inch cake layers in half. Cut one of the halves into quarters.
  2. Cut a 2 inch strip from both of the 9×13 cake layers. You want to cut the width side of the cake (the long side, not the short side). You will be left with two 7×13 cake layers.
  3. Center one 7×13 cake layer on top of a sheet cake sized cake board. (As shown in picture #1)
  4. Use ¾ of each 6-inch cake layer on three corners to form the circular part of the dog bone. Use three ¼ sections left from the 6-inch cake layer to form the fourth corner of the dogbone. (As shown in picture #1)
  5. Spread a generous layer of the chocolate frosting.
  6. Repeat the same method to the second layer of the cake. (As shown in picture #2)
  7. Crumb coat with the remaining chocolate frosting, remembering to fill in any gaps between the 7×13 cake layer and the 6-inch cake layers. (As shown in picture #3)
  8. Let the cake set in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the freezer and spread one layer of the vanilla frosting. Trying to cover up the chocolate as well as you can.
  10. Let the cake set in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  11. Remove the cake from the freezer and smooth on the second layer of vanilla frosting. Try to make it as smooth as you possibly can. This will be your final layer. (As shown in picture #4)
  12. Place the Paw Patrol logo in the center. If you made fondant paw prints, now is the time to place it on the cake. (As shown in picture #5)

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
(This will make three 6-inch round layers and one 9×13 layer. You will need two batches of this.)

Ingredients:

450 g. cake flour
500 g. sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt
5 whole eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 ¼  + ⅓ c. buttermilk, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ c. (two and a half sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare one 9×13 baking pan and three 6-inch round cake pans for baking by spraying them with nonstick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt on low speed.
  3. Add in the butter and 1 ¼ c. buttermilk into the flour mixture on low speed. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  4. In a large cup with a spout, mix the eggs, egg yolks, ⅓ buttermilk and vanilla extract with a whisk. Slowly add the egg mixture into the flour mixture.
  5. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix on low speed again until well combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly amongst the four pans, making sure that the three 6-in pans are even.
  7. Bake about 15-20 minutes until cake is golden brown or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The 6-inch cake pans and the 9×13 pan will have different cook times. Make sure you check both to make sure one doesn’t overbake.

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:
9 oz. good quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled (The darker the better. Emphasis on good quality.)
400 g. confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse a few times before processing it until the frosting is smooth.
  2. Put the whole bowl in the freezer until the frosting sets. Similar to a ganache, the frosting will become more firm and easier to handle after about 10-15 minutes in the freezer.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:
400 g. sugar
8 large egg whites
3 ¼ c. (6 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Bring a small pot filled with about an inch of water to a simmer.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt together.
  3. Place the bowl on top of the pot and whisk continuously until the mixture becomes slightly foamy and you cannot feel the grittiness of the sugar, about 5-8 minutes. The mixture will be hot. Be careful.
  4. Move the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the egg mixture until the bowl feels cool to the touch.
  5. Add in the butter, and continue to whip until a smooth buttercream forms.
  6. Add in the vanilla extract and continue to whip until incorporated.

Cake and chocolate frosting adapted from sweetapolita.
Swiss meringue frosting adapted from the smitten kitchen.