Friday, July 17, 2009

Like Caffeine - and Booze - for Chocolate

Some guys will do anything for love - buy flowers for their gal, massage their feet, even clean the bathroom (thanks, Andrew!). Expressions of devotion and celebrations of commitment are so sweet to me, especially in this day and age when it seems like every other couple is knocking on a hard-ass divorce lawyer's door A dear friend of mine whom I've written about before, Stan, graciously trusted me to make him a cake for his 27th wedding anniversary after the success of the Chocolate Guinness Cake I made for the autism charity auction, and I was more than happy to oblige. Having talked with one of his (adult, as opposed to former student!) friends I continued to be touched by Stan's selflessness and generosity towards his friends as well as anyone in need, and I hope that he knows what trusting me to make his gift really meant to me. Even if I hadn't been paid a single red cent for the ingredients and labour that went into this beauty, I still would have done it happily - just knowing the level of faith he put in my unproven abilities as a cake decorator made every aspect of the experience more than worth it!

Stan left the design, decoration and general particulars of the cake up to my discretion when he asked me to bake for him... the only thing he requested was for the cake to be something along the lines of "Kahlua Fudge". Deb (his wife) is my kind of gal! Browsing around the internet was bearing little promise, since all the documented recipes I found started with a boxed cake mix. I don't think so! So in the end I did what any self-respecting caker would - I wrote my own. And I'll be damned if I wasn't giddy at the results! The buttermilk cake - that I opted to bake in a 9" springform and slice into layers rather than bake separately - was divinely tender and fine-crumbed, but held up to a light soaking in it's namesake liqueur overnight. Moisture was never an issue with this recipe either, as can happen with other alcohol-based recipes, since I used a mixture of butter and oil, along with the buttermilk and a good dose of melted chocolate, took care of that! The rich flavour of the Kahlua and espresso is more than prominent too - both elements are featured in "cooked" and "raw" states between the filling and frosting!

Unbeknownst to me at the time, when I was decorating the (beautifully iced, if I may say so myself) cake, I used one of Deb's favourite indulgences of all time - the chocolate covered espresso bean. Yup, I ringed the entire base of the cake in the sweet and bitter snacks! Definitely not a cake you want to eat right before bed, in any case!

As far as I know the cake was thoroughly enjoyed by the two of them - the look of gratitude on Stan's face when he saw the finished product was golden and I really didn't want to charge him for the cake after all he'd done for me both in and out of school! Being his generous self though, he insisted - and I can't wait to see him again come September!

There is one word of caution with this recipe - it makes a lot of batter. The 9" springform really wasn't big enough - not only was it almost overflowing while it baked (tense moments there!) but it also filled 4 cupcake cups. Additionally, the cake is so moist and fine that cupcakes just don't work, they fell apart when I tried unmoulding them. Consider it a bonus!

Stans Kahlua Cake
Serves 16
200 g flour
50 g buckwheat flour (optional, sub 50 g cake flour if not using)
30 g mesquite flour (optional, sub 30 g buckwheat flour if not using)
5 g baking soda
10 g baking powder
3 g salt
115 g butter, at room temperature
100 g granulated sugar
220 g brown sugar
125 mL canola oil
80 g dark cocoa powder
10 mL Kahlua flavouring (optional, add 15 g of instant espresso powder if not using)
5 mL vanilla
3 eggs
175 g semisweet chocolate, chopped
90 mL buttermilk
125 mL cold brewed espresso
90 mL Kahlua liqueur

225 g icing sugar
14 g dark cocoa powder
55 g shortening
60 g cream cheese, soft
1 tsp instant espresso powder
25 mL Kahlua
Pinch salt

530 g prepared vanilla buttercream frosting
Melted chocolate ganache and chocolate covered coffee beans, for decoration.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a 10" springform pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground espresso (if using), set
  3. In a mixer or large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy.
  4. Combine oil, cocoa and flavouring(s), whisking to form a paste, then scrape into the creamed mixture and beat well.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the buttermilk, coffee and Kahlua.
  7. Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, beat them in alternately with the coffee mixture.
  8. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven, then place the cake on the middle rack.
  9. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until it tests done. Let cool completely in the pan.
--For Filling--
  1. Beat the sugar, cocoa powder, shortening and cream cheese, until smooth.
  2. Add the espresso powder, Kahlua, salt, and vanilla and beat at highest speed 10-12 minutes.

--Assembly / Finishing--

  1. Slice the cake into 3 layers, levelling the top if domed.
  2. Spread the filling evenly on the bottom layer, top with the final layer.
  3. Crumb coat the cake, chill it 2-3 hours then apply the final frosting layer.
  4. Drizzle with ganache and decorate with the coffee beans.
  5. Chill at least 6 hours, but bring to room temperature before serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 585.3
Total Fat: 28.3 g
Cholesterol: 61.6 mg
Sodium: 163.2 mg
Total Carbs: 80.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.5 g
Protein: 5.0 g

Want to convert the measurements? Try this handy calculator.

I discussed the Mesquite and Buckwheat flours here, and Golda's Kitchen was my source for the Kahlua extract.


  1. Damn, that looks fabulous! Do you have any clue what I'd do for a piece right now? It has all of my favorite elements, too.

  2. Wow....just wow. I want some of that cake!!

  3. The cake looks amazing! You are quite a baker! The attention to detail is meticulous - great job!

  4. You are so nice & that cake just turned out beautiful!

  5. uhhh.....Kahlua is my indulgence. I make some mudslide cupcakes but this, oh this. Give me some now!


Thanks for the feedback!