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.

Honey Caramel Cheesecake with Crispy Meringue Bits and Almonds

Honey Caramel Cheesecake 7This is the prettiest dessert I’ve plated so far. I’ve never really mastered the art of plating, but for some reason, I couldn’t help myself when arranging this dessert. It might be because there are so many components to it, or because I was just excited to do something intricate for once, but this one is a stunner for sure, both on the eyes and on the palate.
Honey Caramel Cheesecake 4Honey Caramel Cheesecake 2Sometimes I look at certain recipes and wonder, “Uh…. Yeah, right. Who has the time for that??” I’m thinking this recipe will probably give a lot of people the same thought. I honestly set out with a simple recipe in mind: a honey caramel swirled cheesecake topped with meringue bits. But when I tried this new method of making meringues, I botched the first try and baked the sugar for way too long which resulted in caramelized sugar bits. Luckily, the second time was successful. I have to say, it was worth the trouble because I’ve always had a tough time making meringues that don’t crack or stay perfectly white and this method worked wonders.
meringue flowers caramel shardsIt’s crunchy, crispy, creamy, smooth, nutty, sweet, salty, rich and light. It’s pretty much a party in your mouth.
Honey Caramel Cheesecake 1
Honey Caramel Cheesecake with Crispy Meringue Bits and Almonds

Ingredients:

Honey caramel cheesecake (recipe below)
Honey caramel (recipe below)
Crispy meringue bits (recipe below)
Caramelized sugar bits (recipe below)
Almonds, chopped into small pieces
Maldon sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Trim the edges of the cheesecake to get neat sides.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut cheesecake into long strips, wiping the blade of the knife down after each cut.
  3. Top each cheesecake pieces with crisp meringue bits, caramelized sugar bits, almonds and sea salt.
  4. Optional: put dollops of honey caramel around the edges of the plate and top with sea salt and almond pieces.

Honey Caramel Cheesecake

Ingredients:

½ c. butter, softened
½ c. sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract, divided
¼ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
6 tbsp. heavy cream
honey caramel (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven 350˚F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and salt until a dough forms.
  3. Press dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until homogenous.
  5. Add egg and heavy cream and mix until combined.
  6. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of the flour mixture.
  7. Put dollops of honey caramel and swirl with a toothpick to form swirls.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven until cheesecake is set.
  9. Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Honey Caramel

Ingredients:

½ c. honey
¼ c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine honey and cream.
  2. Cook until mixture reaches 238˚F.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla and salt.
  4. Cool, and refrigerate if storing for future use.

Crispy Meringue Bits

Ingredients:

150 g. superfine sugar
75 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch of cream of tartar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  10. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a closed star tip, make small flower shapes until you have used up all of the meringue.
  12. Bake about 10-20 minutes until they are crisp and hollow.
  13. Turn off oven and let it dry out for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  14. Remove meringues out of the oven and store in a cool, dry place.

Caramelized Sugar Bits

Ingredients:

50 g. superfine sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in a thin even layer over parchment.
  3. Place sugar into oven until it becomes liquefied and golden brown.
  4. Remove and let stand until completely cool.
  5. Break into small shards of crisp sugar.