Choco Mocha Crunch Cake
With Mocha Frosting and Honeycomb Candy
1 cup granulated sugar [200 g]
1/4 cup corn syrup [60 mL]
2 tbsp honey [42 g or 30 mL]
1/2 cup water [120 mL]
2 tsp baking soda [10 g]
For cake layers:
2 1/4 cups cake flour [254 g]
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder [50 g]
2 tsp baking soda [10 g]
1/2 cup sugar [100 g]
1 tsp salt [6 g]
8 egg yolks [160 g]
1/2 cup canola oil [120 mL]
3/4 cup hot coffee [175 mL]
2 tsp vanilla extract [10 mL]
8 egg whites [240 g]
1 tsp cream of tartar [3.4 g]
3/4 cup sugar [150 g]
Mocha Swiss Buttercream:
5 egg whites (at room temperature) [150 g]
2 cups unsalted butter [454 g]
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar [300 g]
1 tsp salt [5.7 g]
1 tbsp vanilla extract [15 mL]
1/2 cup dark chocolate [88 g]
3 tbsp instant coffee [18 g] (substitute with 1 tbsp instant espresso powder)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips [88 g]
1/4 cup heavy cream [60 mL]
extra dark chocolate for chocolate shavings - grated or chopped
Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. Make sure it covers all surfaces of the pan, otherwise candy will stick to the pan.
In a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, add 1 cup granulated sugar and give it a shake so it lays flat in the pan. Add 1/4 cup of corn syrup, 2 tbsp of honey, and 1/2 cup of water, so all of the sugar has been moistened, but do not stir. Turn the heat to very high, and watch closely as the sugar starts to dissolve and the ingredients start to meld together. Heat has to be high, otherwise the temperature will not rise properly. Do not worry about sugar burning.
Once the mixture begins to boil, attach your candy thermometer. Do not stir. Cook the mixture to 300 F (150 C), which should take about 5–10 minutes depending on the strength of your stove heat, then remove the pan from the heat. Have 2 tsp baking soda ready so you can add it in immediately after the sugar mixture hits 300 F (150 C).
Make sure the saucepan is right next to the parchment paper-lined 8x8 pan. Then add in 2 tsp of baking soda, whisk for about 5 seconds, then immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment paper-lined pan. Do not over-stir or you'll end up deflating your candy and they won't have any holes.
Let your honeycomb candy cool for 1 hour until hardened, then lift the honeycomb out of the pan with parchment paper, and break into pieces with a knife.
Immediately store any uneaten honeycomb in an airtight container, otherwise it will absorb moisture from the air and soften. Set them aside.
(Note: Honeycomb will keep for 1 week at room temperature in an airtight container)
Preheat the oven to 340 F (170 C). Separate 8 eggs into yolks and whites, and let them come to room temperature - about 30 min. Line two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper. If you have cake strips, soak them in water and place around each pan. Prepare hot coffee as usually would for drinking, and mix 3/4 cup of hot coffee with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Mix well and let it cool.
In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/4 cups cake flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1 tsp of salt. Add in the 8 room temperature egg yolks, 1/2 cup of canola or vegetable oil, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, and the prepared coffee/chocolate mixture.
Beat with an electric mixer or by hand just until smooth and well blended.
In a separate bowl, beat the 8 room temperature egg whites and 1 tsp cream of tartar on high speed until frothy. Very slowly add in 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and beat until glossy stiff peaks are formed. Gradually and very gently fold in this meringue into cake mixture until very well combined. Divide the batter equally into the two prepared round cake pans.
Bake in your preheated oven at 340 F (170 C) for about 35 to 45 minutes or till cake springs back when touched lightly at the center and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Immediately invert the round cake pans onto wire racks. After 2 minutes, it should be easy to lift off the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Let your cakes cool completely to room temperature on the wire racks.
When they are cooled completely (about 3 hours), cut the cakes horizontally to make 4 cake layers.
Mocha Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup of dark chocolate and 3 tbsp of instant coffee powder (substitute with 1 tbsp instant espresso powder). Let this cool to room temperature.
Whisk together 5 room temperature egg whites, 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, and 1 tsp of salt in a heatproof bowl like glass or stainless steel.
Set up a double boiler and heat the egg white mixture in a low-heat water bath while continuing to whisk, till the sugar is dissolved. It is done when it feels sticky to touch, and you hardly feel the grains of sugar anymore. It needs to reach 160 F (70 C).
Take it off the water bath. Using an electric mixer, beat this mixture until glossy and stiff peaks form. Let it cool down completely to room temperature.
When it has cooled to room temperature, continue beating and slowly add in 2 cups of room temperature unsalted butter a little at a time - the butter should be pre-sliced into 1 to 2 tbsp size cubes.
When the butter is fully mixed in, add 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and the prepared chocolate/coffee mixture, and mix until smooth.
Warm 1/4 cup of heavy cream, either in a stove or microwave.
Add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips in a bowl, pour the warm cream over it. Let it sit for a few minutes then whisk together. If there’s a few bits of unmelted chocolate, just microwave it for 10 seconds and whisk again.
Assembling the Cake:
Spread mocha frosting between chocolate cake layers and over top and sides. Sprinkle small pieces of the honeycomb candy in between each layer.
Dip the back of a spatula into the chocolate sauce. Then using the back of the spatula, make strokes of chocolate into the mocha frosting to create a brush-like pattern, starting at the bottom of the cake, with an upward diagonal stroke. Two levels of strokes up the sides of the cake. And then around the top outer circumference of the cake top (1 inch in).
Then with the bigger chunks/cubes of honeycomb, create a big mound of honeycomb candy at the top of the cake
Finally, take some of the leftover dark chocolate and either chop it into small bits or grate it. Then sprinkle it to create a circle at the top of the cake, about 1 inch from the edge. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!