Black Velvet Cake
with Browned Butter Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Black Velvet Cake:
1 3/4 cups cake flour [210 g]
1 3/4 tsp baking powder [7 g]
3/4 tsp baking soda [3.8 g]
3/4 tsp salt [4.3 g]
2 oz (1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate (melted) [56.7 g]
1/2 cup black cocoa powder [40 g]
1/3 cup hot-brewed coffee [80 mL]
1 tbsp vanilla extract [15 mL]
1/2 cup vegetable oil [120 mL]
3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature) [180 mL]
2 tsp white vinegar [10 mL]
6 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp) [85.2 g]
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar [250 g]
3 large eggs (room temp) [150 g]
Browned Butter Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter [340.5 g]
16 oz (2 bars) cream cheese [452.8 g]
4 cups powdered sugar [480 g]
1/4 cup pure maple syrup [60 mL]
2 tsp vanilla extract [10 mL]
1/2 tsp salt [2.8 g]
3 tbsp black cocoa powder [15 g]
Browning the Butter:
In a small saucepan, add in 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) of unsalted butter, and melt it over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown. It is done when the butter has a golden-brown amber color and starts to smell nutty.
Remove the butter from the heat, transfer to a clean bowl. Rest this browned butter in the fridge for about 2 hours, until it is solid again.
Black Velvet Cake:
Let 6 tbsp unsalted butter, 3 large eggs, and 3/4 cup of buttermilk come to room temperature.
Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C). Prep two 9" cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper. No need to grease the sides or the parchment paper. Take 2 cake strips, soak them in cold water for about 5 minutes, shake off excess water but do not wring, and place them around each cake pan.
In a small bowl, add in 1 3/4 cups of cake flour, 1 3/4 tsp of baking powder, 3/4 tsp of baking soda, and 3/4 tsp of salt, and whisk together till they are combined. Set these dry ingredients aside.
Take a large mixing bowl, add in 1/3 cup (2 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips), and microwave for 1 minute in 30 second increments, whisking in between.
To this same large mixing bowl with the melted chocolate, add in 1/2 cup of black cocoa powder, 1/3 cup of hot brewed coffee, 1 tbsp of vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Whisk them together till they are combined. Then slowly mix in the 3/4 cup room temperature buttermilk while whisking, and 2 tsp of white vinegar, and continue to whisk till everything is combined. Set this aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in the 6 tbsp of room temperature butter, and with a paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until the butter is soft, about 2 minutes. While continuing to beat, slowly add in 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar, and beat for 5 minutes, until it looks fluffy. Then with the beater still on medium-high, add in the 3 large room temperature eggs, 1 egg at a time, waiting till the previous egg is completely combined before adding in the next one.
Turn your stand mixer on to medium-low speed, and alternate between adding the dry ingredients (flour mixture) and the wet ingredients (chocolate mixture), one third at a time, till everything has been added to the stand mixer bowl and the mixture is well combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Then do a final mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds to ensure everything is mixed.
Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared cake pans, and smooth the top as much as possible.
Bake the cakes in the preheated oven at 350 F (175 C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes rest on metal racks to cool for about 5 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto the metal racks, left off the pans, and peel off the parchment paper the cakes were baked with. Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature. When they reach room temperature, flip the cakes onto a flat surface (e.g. chopping board) and place them in the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour (these cakes are extremely crumbly, so freezing the 2 layers will help make assembly easier).
Cream Cheese Frosting:
When the browned butter has firmed up, take the bowl of your stand mixer and add in the firm browned butter and 16 ounces (2 bars) of cream cheese. Attach the paddle attachment, and beat this on medium speed till the browned butter and cream cheese are incorporated and look fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Turn off the mixer, add in 4 cups powdered sugar, and then gradually increase the speed to medium high, being careful not to mix it too fast so that the powdered sugar doesn't fly everywhere.
When all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add in 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp of table salt. Continue mixing until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Let this cream cheese frosting rest at room temperature till you're ready to use it. On a very hot day, you might have to keep it in the fridge to firm up if it gets too runny.
Assembling the Cake:
Place a cake board on a revolving cake stand. Place the first frozen layer of black velvet cake in the center of the cake board.
Then spread a thin layer of the cream cheese frosting mixture on top, creating an even and flat layer as much as possible, about half an 1/4" thick of frosting.
Place the second layer of frozen black velvet cake on top.
Cover the sides of the cake with a thin layer of the cream cheese frosting, and then the same thing with the top of the cake. This thin crumb coat should catch any crumbs. Place this cake in the fridge for 1 hour for the crumb coat to firm up. You can store the unused cream cheese frosting out at room temperature, or in the fridge if it gets too runny.
When the crumb coat has hardened, apply a final layer of the cream cheese frosting around the sides of the cake, as well as the top. Be sure to save about 2 cups of frosting for decorations later.
If you have an icing comb, you can create a pattern on the outside surface of the frosting at this point. I'm just using the icing cake to create a pattern around the sides of the cake. Clean up excess frosting at the base as needed. I'm also using an offset spatula to create a simple spiral pattern on top of the cake. I place the tip of an offset spatula at the center of the cake, then with the spatula at an angle so that only the tip of it is touching the cake, turn the revolving stand while dragging the spatula towards the outer edge to create a spiral pattern. Place this assembled cake in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour for the cream cheese frosting to firm up.
Take the approximately 2 cups of remaining cream cheese frosting and add in black cocoa powder 1 tbsp at a time, until it reaches your desired color. I usually end up adding 3 tbsp of black cocoa powder. Mix this in until it's fully combined, and you have dark chocolate frosting. Attach a large open star tip to your piping bag (I use a #4B tip), and transfer the dark chocolate frosting into the bag.
Create a pattern around the outer circumference of the top surface by making little teardrops all around the cake.
Refrigerate till you're ready to serve. Enjoy!