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.

Chocolate Unicorn Easter Eggs

I know it’s been a while! If you follow my Instagram feed, you would know that I’ve been making some cakes during my weekends off and that took time away from blogging. But I hurried my butt to share this project with you this week, because I could not wait another year for an Easter post.
These unicorn eggs are made of hollow candy melt shells, with swirls of pastel buttercream and adorned with a golden fondant horn and pearls and stars. I originally wanted the eggs to be filled with a rainbow mousse that would have beautiful layers when you cut into the candy melt. But I had the toughest time molding the eggs.
The eggs are made with an egg shaped Jell-O mold that I used for my tiramisu eggs a while back. As much as I appreciate the mold, I have a deep love/hate relationship with it. It fails to close properly unless you use excessive force (this might be because my mold is old), and it’s hard to fill because of the small opening on top. But it does make the perfect egg shape when it is molded properly. The tiramisu had a cracked shell look to it, so I didn’t need a perfect shape. Unfortunately, this project required a whole egg shape and it made it more difficult.
If I’m being honest, I almost gave up after failing to mold the eggs on my first attempt. I wasted a whole afternoon of prepping everything, and gathering all the supplies and decorations. But I just had to make it, even if the mousse was a long lost dream. After trying it a second time, I was somewhat successful and 3 out of 6 eggs were usable, and I was a little worried but the end result was so cute that it made the journey worth it.

Chocolate Unicorn Easter Eggs

You will need:

jello egg mold*
1 c. white chocolate candy melts
½ batch vanilla buttercream
a small amount of white fondant
purple gel food color
blue gel food color
pink gel food color
gold luster dust
vodka
edible silver stars
tiny confetti sprinkles
colored edible pearls
metallic edible pearls
black edible ink marker
white pearl dust

Assembly:

  1. Roll out a small amount of fondant with your palms to create a thin white rod. Twist two rods together to create a horn shape. Taper the end of the rod to create a unicorn horn.
  2. Mix a few drops of vodka with a small amount of gold luster dust and paint the unicorn horn. Set aside to set.
  3. Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl/cup with a spout.
  4. Melt the white chocolate melts in the microwave in 15 second intervals until completely melted.
  5. Thoroughly spray the inside of your egg mold with a non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Use the spout of your bowl/cup to pour white chocolate into the egg about ¼ of the way.
  7. Start rotating your egg mold (left, right, and upside down) until it starts to set. (When flipping the egg mold upside down, do so above your melted chocolate so the excess can drip back into the bowl.)
  8. Once set, repeat steps 4 and 5 two more times to ensure through covering and place in freezer to completely set. (4-5 minutes)
  9. While the eggs are setting, fit three disposable piping bags with small star tips (I used wilton tip #16, 15, and 17), color your buttercream and fill your piping bags with each color.
  10. Take the eggs out of the freezer and carefully unmold the chocolate. It may stick a little. Just wiggle it around gently, and it should come out in one piece.
  11. Use the frosting to swirl different colors to give your unicorn a mane. Leaving a small gap at the tip of the egg for the unicorn horn. Tip: Use the largest star tip to give the mane a general shape and use the smaller tip to make the mane fuller. Use the smallest tip to fill in the tiny gaps in between the large and small swirls.
  12. Use a tweezer (kitchen use only tweezers) to place pearls, stars, and confetti sprinkles to give the eggs a little more dimension. You can pretty much use any sprinkle you desire. Just make sure it is small so that you don’t lose the swirls of the unicorn mane.
  13. Place the eggs in the freezer for the buttercream to harden, about 3-5 minutes.
  14. Remove eggs from the freezer and with the edible marker, draw on the eyes.
  15. Use a food-safe brush to brush on pearl powder around the egg to give it some sheen.
  16. Squeeze a little swirl of buttercream right where you want the unicorn horn and place the unicorn horn in the center of the swirl.
  17. Display eggs in an egg carton to really sell the “egg” look.

*After doing extensive research, the egg mold I used has been discontinued. I did find some eBay listings for them. Look up the term “jello egg mold” and it should give you purchasing options.