Jun 19, 2012

Black Joe Cake with Salted Caramel Filling & Mocha Mascarpone Frosting

I'd like to give you two pieces of advice.

First, never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.  This is just doomsday for your diet.  You will purchase things that you'd never even think about on a contented tummy.

Caramel in jars, for example.

I was weak and hungry...I couldn't help it.  I mean look at that cute little jar with its pretty little lid.  And it's French, so it MUST be good, right?

Second piece of advice.  Never, ever take a fussy child into Carrefour.  This is like walking into the lion's den with a hot dog necklace.  You are just asking for it.  Once you are inside you will give your child ANYTHING to keep quiet.  Never in my life have I pulled something off the shelf in a grocery store and ate it.  Never.  That is until I had a one year old.  Lord, cookies go flying when we shop.  I never had the balls to do something like this.  But when he's screaming and pulling at my shirt for something, anything I just become desperate.  I grab the first thing that looks halfway edible and choke-hazard free and say 'here take it, please let me finish my discount shopping!'

So we're walking and screaming in Carrefour.  I'm hungry.  He's irritated.  I start grabbing at things that I don't need.  I am in a state of panic and just need inventory in my cart.  I'm tossing in needless items just to have some sort of accomplishment for the day...the caramel, some kind of sea-weed crackers (ick by the way) facial scrub (yes from Carrefour, I mean really?) I'm positive if you have kids you know what I'm talking about.

We finally reach the finish line (check-out) and the little man is all smiles for the girl at the counter.  Guess his blood sugar sorted itself out with the biscuits.  I have a thin line of sweat around my forehead and proceed to run over my toe with the cart.  Yeh, mission accomplished.

We get home and I'm starting at this jar of caramel feeling defeated.  The whole point of this blog was to make EVERYTHING from scratch.  I am equally irritated because I know how to make caramel!  Remember the Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Filling?!  I opened the jar to taste and wow, it's pretty darn good.  Also, there were only about 4 or 5 ingredients, no poly-dextrose-number 5 color-extract-dehydrated soybean phosphate.  Nope none of that weird stuff. 

Feeling a bit better about the caramel debacle I figured the best thing I can do is doctor up some frosting with it.  And add some fleur de sel, of course.  Because nothing goes better with caramel than salt.

This recipe is originally from Bon Appetit, although they didn't name the cake Black Joe...that's too urban for them I'd say.  They labeled it 'Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake'.  Well there was coffee in the cake ingredients, but for sure you can't taste it.  This is fine though, and intentional!  When adding coffee to any chocolate recipe, the coffee taste is usually hidden beneath the cocoa.  Coffee is added to accentuate the chocolate flavor and intensify it.

Traditional Black Joe Cake is any chocolate cake recipe that includes about a cup or so of black, strong coffee.  I'm not quite sure how coffee became labeled as 'Joe' but it doesn't matter.  You can call it a Purple Unicorn with Popcorn Farts and I'd still drink it.

Black Joe Cake with Salted Caramel Filling & Mocha Mascarpone Frosting
Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake
Serves 8 (or 10 skinny people)


For the cake:
2 cups cake flour (you can substitute all-purpose flour per the following: 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
2cups (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (to substitute, measure 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a measuring cup.  Add enough full-fat milk to measure one cup.  Stir and let sit for 5 minutes)
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water (not instant coffee!)

For the salted caramel filling:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/2 cup caramel
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

For the Mocha Mascarpone Frosting:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (not instant coffee!)
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
1 1/3 cups sugar
28 ounces chilled mascarpone cheese


Preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.  I use a sandwich baggie as a glove which makes clean up so much easier.   

Add about two tablespoons of flour to the greased pan to coat, tapping out any excess.  Repeat with second cake pan. 

Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.  I find the easiest way to do this is to place some waxed paper underneath the pan and trace with a marker.

Cut out your circle and place inside the bottom of the cake pan.  If you find that you've cut the circle too big (this happens to me ALL the time) fold in half, then fold again so your circle looks like this:

Then just trim around the top edge.  Folding into quarters like this makes things so much easier rather than sitting in the kitchen cutting around a circle...who has time for that?!

Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.  Never forget to sift your dry ingredients.  Sifting guarantees that no lumps will find their way into your bowl.  Sifting also adds air in between the particles which allows for a lighter, fluffier cake.

Be sure to whisk the dry ingredients after you've sifted.  This step ensures a thoroughly combined mixture. 

Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops.  I used a digital scale to ensure the pans were equal. 

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes.

Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment (don't ever forget this step...you'd see people chewing real funny when they're eating your cake if you leave that waxed paper in place). Place wire rack atop each cake; invert again so top side is up. Cool completely.

To prepare the Salted Caramel Filling:

Beat the butter and salt in the bowl of a stand-up mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add sugar.  ALWAYS sift your powdered sugar before adding to the bowl.  See all the lumps here?  These can make your frosting look pretty lump-o-licious so always take the time to do this very important step.  If the lumps are soft enough, just break them up with your fingers and push through the sieve.  If they're too hard, just toss in the trash.

Beat until just incorporated.  Turn off your mixer, scrape down the sides and add the caramel.

Turn on mixer and beat until light and fluffy.

To prepare the Mocha Mascarpone Frosting:

Sift cocoa powder into large bowl; add espresso powder.  Additionally ALWAYS sift your cocoa as well.

Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over cocoa mixture, whisking until cocoa is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Add mascarpone to chilled cocoa mixture. Using electric mixer, beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (do not over beat or mixture will curdle).

Using pastry brush, brush off crumbs from cakes. Place 1 cake layer, top side up on a cake platter. 

Typically I buy disposable cake boards which make the cake easier to move, especially if you will be frosting on a revolving cake stand and then moving to a cake saver.  This time around I forgot to buy one so instead I used the removable bottom from my tart pan.  Worked great, just doesn't look as pretty. 

Spoon the Salted Caramel Filling in dollops over top of cake (I used the entire bowl of the salted caramel, was A LOT but it was gooood). Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges.

Top with second cake layer, top side up, pressing to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill 10 minutes. Using offset spatula, spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, swirling decoratively.

Garnish with chocolate curls or sprinkles, or simply leave as is.  This cake is so good it doesn't need accessories!  I'd let the cake chill in the fridge for at least an hour prior to cutting so the frosting firms up.  This allows for a cleaner cut through the cake and removal.

Cake and Mocha Mascarpone Frosting recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

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