Ho Ho Cake
Makes approximately 14 servings
Recipe Notes: This cake is very moist, so be careful when removing it from the cake pans. You can substitute a variety of toppings for the toasted almonds—crushed candy cane, fresh berries, chocolate curls, etc.
For the Devil’s Food Cake: (adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2008)
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups ice water
For the Buttercream: (adapted from Food Chronicles buttercream recipe)
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
scant 1/2 cup hot/boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sliced almonds
For the Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9.5 inch cake pans. Dust with granulated sugar.
2. Make the cake batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium size bowl. Using a mixer, beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yolk. Add the cocoa and beat well until well blended. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternatively with the ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mix and beating until just blended and smooth after each addition. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
3. Bake the cakes: Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pans on cooling racks for 15 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the cooling racks and cool completely.
4. Make the buttercream: Put the confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. With the electric mixer running on its slowest speed, slowly add in the hot/boiling water. Then add the vanilla and salt and mix well. Add the butter and continue mixing on slow for about 20 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-slow and mix for another 20 seconds. Then turn the mixer to medium-high and let the buttercream mix for 15 minutes.
5. Begin assembling the cake: Place one cake layer on a platter, bottom side up. Spoon a little less than half of the buttercream over the cake, spread evenly to the edges. Top with a second cake layer, bottom side up. Spoon the same amount of buttercream over the cake layer, spreading it evenly to the edges. Top with the third cake layer, bottom side down. Chill the cake for about 30 minutes before adding the chocolate ganache.
6. Make the toasted almonds: In a medium pan, dry toast the sliced almonds over medium-high heat until slightly golden. Transfer to a cool plate to prevent the nuts from continuing to cook.
7. Make the chocolate ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium-size bowl. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the cream to a strong simmer. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate chips, and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Then slowly stir, or whisk, the chocolate and cream together until it is smooth and glossy. Let the ganache rest for 10 minutes before using it to glaze the top of the cake. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top of the cake. Let the cake chill briefly before serving.
8. Finish assembling the cake: Spoon half of the ganache on the middle of the top layer of cake. With the back of a spoon, slowly spread the ganache over the top of the cake. Spoon the rest of the ganache onto the middle of the top layer of cake. Use the spoon to gently spread the ganache so that it begins to spread over the sides of the cake and down the sides. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds.