I’m a sucker for layer cakes.  They are extremely time consuming but I love them because they’re reserved for very special occasions.  Dorie Greenspan’s Baking – From My Home to Yours has been my go-to book for celebration cakes ever since I asked my husband to buy it for me on our honeymoon in Canada in 2009.  And so here is another and it’s just as lovely as her Devil’s Food White-out Cake (I can’t believe I didn’t blog about this cake – it was so good!), her Perfect Party Cake (which really is perfect) and her recipe entitled Bill’s Big Carrot Cake (which is absolutely amazing).  This one is called Black-and-White-Chocolate CakeIt’s a buttermilk cake interspersed with layers of dark chocolate pastry cream and white chocolate whipped cream.  It’s faultless.

Another great thing about the recipe is more often than not when you make cakes you’re left with loads of cholesterol-laden egg yolks.  But with this cake, you’re left with 5 beautiful egg whites.  Some would whip up a healthy omelette the next morning.. but I’m secretly hoping to make some macarons.

I made this cake last night in the wee hours of the morning for my husband’s birthday today (just because he’s the best husband in the world – happy birthday my love!).  The decorations on top were completely impromptu (& very 80s – blame it on my mother’s influence!) as this morning my son specially requested some strawberries for his fruit salad and I was blending blueberries into my 5 month-old daughter’s homemade apple & banana puree.

The recipe says that it makes 10 servings but 6 of us ate about one-third of it, so it’s realistically enough for 18.


For the cake
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp / 140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the dark chocolate cream
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
7 ounces (200 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temperature

For the white chocolate whipped cream
6 ounces (170 g) premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream


Getting ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.  Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper.  Put the pans on a baking sheet. black and white chocolate cake 1280-1

To make the cake

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.  Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin & end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter.  Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point.  When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centres will come out clean.  Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.


To make the dark chocolate cream
Bring the milk to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the eggs yolks with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended.  Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle – then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream.  Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil.  Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky.  Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days.  Or, if you want to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with the cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.


To make the white chocolate whipped cream
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water.  Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly.  Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil.

When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan.  Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute.  Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth.  Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature – it can’t be the least bit warm when you add it to the whipped cream.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks.  Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks.  Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

To assemble the cake
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them.  Slice each layer horizontally in half.  Place one layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.

Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smoothe them.  With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely.  Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer.  Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream.  (You’ll have some dark chocolate cream left over – use it as a dip for madeleines or sables.)  Top with a final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and tops with the remaining white chocolate whipped cream.  If you’d like to decorate the top with chocolate shavings or curls, do it now.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Remove the cake from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving.  Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut it.  Though the cake is particularly good with coffee or tea, it also goes well with a sweet or sparkling dessert wine.

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