Euro-So-Sweet Cake

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Euro-So-Sweet Cake
Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita Hello, hello from the land of pink buttercream! Earlier this month my sister Michele celebrated a birthday, and unlike many other years I was able to see her right afterwards and make her a birthday cake! We live a few hours apart, and while we've seen a lot of each other in the past few months, it wasn't always that way. We both have a love for European-style desserts, much to do with our heritage I'm sure, but she really much prefers the not-so-sweet, rich, custard-like baked goods and desserts over anything typically birthday cake-ish. So with this in mind, along with the soon-to-be whirlwind that is Valentine's Day, I wanted to create a layer cake that she would love (which she did!), and that tied together some of my favourite Valentine's dessert flavours and textures: red velvet cake, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, raspberries, and more. Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita So, first I should point out that this isn't the kind of cake that will slice ever-so-perfectly (not that that should ever count unless of course you're trying to take lovely food photos!), but I think we all know that these are usually the most irresistible ones. But even still, please forgive what might be a slightly disheveled looking inside. What I can tell you, though, is that this cake will transport you to the sweetest of Euro cafes, and is one of the most decadent and delightful cakes I have ever made! So here's what we've got going on from the bottom up: moist dark chocolate cake topped with coffee-and-Tia Maria-moistened lady fingers, Tiramisu filling (mascarpone, sugar, eggs, etc.) with a dusting of cocoa powder, super-moist red velvet cake, raspberry preserves, rich and creamy Belgian chocolate mousse, and then another round of the same chocolate/Tiramisu and red velvet layer all frosted in pink Italian meringue buttercream. Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita And while these components all look a dream inside the cake, the best part, of course, is that the flavours and textures work so incredibly well together. With every bite there is something slightly different and wonderful going on--subtle hints of coffee and booze nestled in creamy mascarpone, light-as-air chocolate mousse, tender cake, fruity preserves, and rich vanilla buttercream. If you don't over-soak the lady fingers, there is just enough moisture to turn them into a vanilla cake layer that never dries out, and the red velvet and chocolate cake layers keep their moisture even with this cake in the refrigerator when not being served (a must for a cake with things like mascarpone, heavy cream fillings, mousse, etc.). Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita You'll notice that for the first time on the blog I've used Italian meringue buttercream, as opposed to my beloved Swiss meringue buttercream. The real difference between the two variations is the techniques we use to make them--for Swiss we warm the egg whites and sugar before whipping them into meringue and then beating in softened butter to create our buttercream; for Italian we add a hot sugar syrup made on the stove top to the soft peak meringue, beat until thick and glossy and then beat in the butter. In terms of the prepared buttercream, the difference is marginal (although some swear that Italian is more stable), but I think if you are a meringue buttercream lover, it's most definitely worth trying both methods and see what you think. Because with Swiss you need to stand at the stove and gently whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly for quite some time until they are hot and the sugar dissolves, I often prefer the efficient Italian method. Of course no matter what variation you go with, the result is the perfectly fluffy, rich, decadent buttercream. Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita I topped the cake with a simple red sugar rose I had in my arsenal of sprinkles and sugar decorations, and then just added a tiny turquoise leaf. The classic border piping is super quick and gives the cake that sweet bakeshop feel we all love. And don't be alarmed at the seemingly endless ingredients and steps in the recipe--it really is deceiving. The fillings and cake layers are small batches, and the only really time-consuming step is the chocolate mousse, with about 20 minutes stove-side stirring. But, as you can imagine, it's worth it. What better way to profess your love than to say it with cake?

Euro-So-Sweet Cake

Moist and tender red velvet and chocolate cake layers filled with "Euro" inspired Tiramisu, chocolate mousse, raspberry preserves, and frosted with rich and decadent pink vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.

For the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2/3 cup 95 g all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup 135 g sugar
  • 1/4 cup 30 g dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup 60 ml buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup 60 ml hot coffee
  • 3 tablespoon 45 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Red Velvet Cake:

  • 1 cup 115 g cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup 35 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons 45 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons Red Velvet Emulsion (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml buttermilk, room temperature

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • 10 egg whites (room temperature)
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 2 2/3 cups 525 g sugar
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml water
  • 3 cups 680 g unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • AmeriColor soft gel paste in Soft Pink

For the Chocolate Mousse:

  • 2 eggs (separated, room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces 90 g dark chocolate, chopped or callets
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup 50 g sugar
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml heavy cream (35% cream)

For the Tiramisu Layers:

  • 1 cup 240 ml heavy cream (35% cream)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g sugar)
  • 2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the Italian meringue buttercream)
  • 1 275 g container Mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 18-20 Savoiardi lady finger cookies (the firm kind)
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml espresso or coffee
  • 1 tablespoon Tia Maria liqueur (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (for dusting)
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml raspberry preserves
  • 1 sugar rose for decorating (optional)

For the Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and a parchment round.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine egg, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  3. Bake until a toothpick comes out almost clean (a few crumbs), about 22 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then gently invert onto rack until completely cool.

For the Red Velvet Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and a parchment round.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl or on top of parchment paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, oil and red velvet emulsion on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 7 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the egg, mixing until it is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and whisk by hand until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with small offset palette knife. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Try not to over-bake.
  6. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then gently invert onto rack until completely cool.

For the Chocolate Mousse:

  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the egg yolks, milk, and salt ,stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and is close to boiling, about 20 minutes (patience required!). Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Stir in the alcohol and extract until combined. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a medium bowl to cool.
  2. Whip the egg whites on the low speed until they become frothy. Increase speed to medium and gradually add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 more minute. Fold the meringue into the cooled chocolate mixture.
  3. Whip the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form, about 40 seconds. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/meringue mixture until combined. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

For the Tiramisu Layers:

  1. Whip the heavy cream until stiff and chill. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese, the extracts and the salt, and and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Fold in the whip cream until combined. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  1. Wipe the inside of the stainless bowl and whisk attachment of your mixer clean with lemon juice or vinegar, fit onto the mixer and add the egg whites and cream of tartar.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together 2 1/4 cups (450 g) of the sugar and the water. Stop stirring. Brush down the sides of the saucepan with a damp pastry brush. Clip on a candy thermometer and leave the mixture to bubble uninterrupted. When the sugar syrup reaches about 170°F, start to to whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed (let the syrup continue to cook) until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium and gradually add the remaining (75 g) sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high speed and whip eggs whites to soft peaks, about 1 minute. Keep the mixer going, and when the sugar syrup reaches 240°F, promptly remove the saucepan from the heat and pour in a thin, steady stream into the meringue mixture and continue to whip the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy. When the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm, switch to the paddle attachment and, with the mixer on the lowest speed, add the cubes of butter one at a time.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to whip until all of the butter is incorporated and the buttercream is thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.

Assemble the Euro-So-Sweet Cake:

  1. On an 8-inch round cake board (or larger cake plate), put a small dollop of frosting. Use a long, sharp serrated knife to cut each cake layer in half horizontally. You will now have two thin red velvet layers and two thin chocolate cake layers.
  2. Place your first chocolate cake layer face-up on the board (or plate) on a cake turntable, and cover with a layer of lady fingers smooth-side down, breaking some if necessary to fit over entire layer.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the coffee and Tia Maria liqueur. Use a pastry brush to moisten each lady finger (just the tops) with the coffee mixture. Spread about 1 cup of the Tiramisu filling on top and dust with a layer of cocoa powder. Place one of the red velvet cake layers face-up on top and spread the raspberry preserves over the layer. Spread about 1 cup of chocolate mousse over the preserves.
  4. Place your remaining chocolate cake layer atop the mousse and repeat the Tiramisu layer (lady fingers, coffee brush, filling, cocoa powder). Carefully place the final red velvet cake layer on top, face-down. Gently adjust the cake so that it is straight and lined up properly. *Cake 911: If you find there are any spots where the fillings are oozing, fill those areas with some of the buttercream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Add a few drops of the pink gel paste to the Italian Meringue Buttercream and stir well to blend colour and remove air bubbles. Frost the entire outside of the cake with the pink buttercream until you have a smooth layer, sealing in all crumbs. Refrigerate until the frosting firms up, about 30 minutes. Repeat with another layer of pink buttercream, working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill cake for at least 15 minutes. To create the piped borders, fit a medium pastry bag with a coupler and icing tip #22 and pipe a shell-style border along the top and bottom of the cake. Add a sugar rose, if desired.
  6. Keep refrigerated (this cake will stay moist) for up to 2 days, but serve at a cool room temperature.

Chocolate Mousse recipe adapted from wilton.com; Tiramisu filling adapted from GIOIA Savoiardi Lady Finger package.

Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • For the chocolate cake I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder (extra brute).
  • For the red velvet cake, I use LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion with its concentrated colour/flavour all in one, it’s worth it (to me), but you can substitute the emulsion with 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract plus 1 teaspoon red soft gel paste colour (AmeriColor Super Red works well).
  • For the chocolate mousse I use Callebaut Dark Callets 53.8 %, which is a versatile dark (but not intensely dark) chocolate perfect for anything from frosting to bark.
  • For the Italian meringue buttercream I use Americolor Soft Pink--a bright pink that can hold up once frosted.
  • To create the little rose leaf, I simply tinted a small amount of gum paste (you can use fondant) with AmeriColor Turquoise gel paste and cut out a little leaf.
  • For make ahead, you can prepare the Italian meringue buttercream up to a week ahead (keep refrigerated until the night before you need it, and thaw on counter, whipping for a few moments to bring back to smooth consistency), the cake layers up to 2 days ahead (kept wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature), and the chocolate mousse the night before.
See you soon with another dose of decadence!

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  • Rosie Alyea
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