This cake takes me back.
One of my favourite pre-career jobs was working at a coffee shop in a kind of transitional area of downtown Vancouver. Not quite nice, not quite terrible. Our customers were a mix of vagrants, office workers, people who were just sort of around, and bands in town for shows. I was your typical barista, young and full of ennui, and rattled off customer's orders while counting down the hours to post-work drinks or my resentment of the skytrain ride home to the 'burbs. Youth.
Coffee shops here are painfully and pleasantly common, but our chain crafted uniquely fantastic hot chocolates, made with real chocolate blended into steamed milk. They came in three flavours: dark, milk or white chocolate.
Inevitably, every time a hot chocolate was ordered, it went down something like this:
"So, do you want that to be dark, milk, or white chocolate?"
"Oh, uh, dark milk."
"That's not a thing."
"Dark milk. There's a comma. It's either/or"
"Oh, dark then, I guess."
I could have reworded it, sure, but this small, constant misunderstanding brought me a lot of joy. I like to think it snapped people out of autopilot and made them listen a little closer. This is probably not true.
If I could time travel, I'd go back to those moments. I could groundhog day that job.
So, let's reminisce together: How do you want your cake?
Dark, milk, white, please and thank you. Layered and blended into an orchestra of cocoa.
Triple Chocolate Cake
For the dark chocolate cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 black cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
For milk chocolate and white chocolate icing
1 cup butter, room temperature
4-6 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder (adjust to taste)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1-2 tablespoons cream or milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
For the ganache
8 oz semi sweet, chopped
1 cup cream
Make the ganache
Simmer the cream, then remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and leave it in the pot for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the butter and let chill until it holds shape but is still pourable.
Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line two 8-inch baking pans. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet and beat together until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure everything is mixed together -- about 3-5 minutes.
Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (watch carefully). When ready, a cake tester inserted in the middle will come out clean. Allow to cool on wire racks before removing from the pans. Once cool, carefully and evenly slice each cake in half. You can use a long, sharp knife, or dental floss, for the best results. You will now have four thin layers!
Make the icings
The icings are pretty straightforward, because you can make both at the same time. Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add the icing sugar, 1-2 cups at a time, until desired texture is reached. Add the cream/milk if you go too far with the icing sugar, or want a smoother consistency.
Divide the icing into two.
Take one half and whip in the cocoa powder until well combined. Set aside and cover.
Melt the white chocolate, either over a double boiler, or in the microwave on half-power. I like to add a teaspoon or two of butter to help keep things smooth (do NOT add water -- it will seize). Once it's nearly melted, just give it a quick stir until it's smooth. Gradually whip the melted white chocolate into the other half of the buttercream. Cover until ready to use.
Voila! Two icings from the same batch. Cheers for lazy baking.
Assemble the cake
Now comes the fun part, because we're close to eating. Take a blog of icing and place it on your cake place. This will hold the cake in place. Add one layer of the cake. Spoon the white chocolate icing (not too much, it really adds up since the cake layers are so thin) and carefully spread it evenly around the layer. Add another cake layer and repeat until they're all stacked up, iced, and delicious.
Now take the chocolate icing and ice the outside of the cake. To get a smooth finish, I recommend a crumb coat (which Martha Stewart does an awesome job of showing off here). I like to finish this layer with a smoothing with a hot knife.
Now the fun part: carefully pour the ganache over the top of the cake, coaxing it over the sides to do that delicious drip thing. Let it set and settle for a few moments before sprinkling with the triple chocolate chips.
Slice and serve!