This cake represent for me the idea of having fun in the kitchen. I come up with this design thinking of everything that can means, actually smells of Christmas: candy cane, gingerman cookies, chocolate, mint, cinnamon... And actually, my main idea was to recreate a sort of carousel, using instead of little horses... gingermen cookies!
This cake is whimsical, fun, sweet. This is my homage to Christmas!
1 cup dark cocoa powder plus more for dusting
¾ cup hot strong coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
¾ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
Place rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using a rubber spatula, mix the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 4 cups in each pan). Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. To assemble, using a serrated knife, level the top surface of each cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the remaining layer, bottom side up. Cover the outside of cake with the remaining frosting.
Ultimate Chocolate frosting
3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup dark cocoa powder
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Whip the butter until smooth and fluffy; stir in, gradually, sugar and cocoa. Flavor with the butter, milk, and vanilla; stir until smooth and free of lumps.
Note: both the recipe for the cake and for the frosting are Martha Stewart's.