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The Batter Thickens: "Essence of Autumn" Chocolate Layer Cake

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Essence of Autumn" Chocolate Layer Cake

WE'VE MOVED! Now redirecting you to our new page.

(This is a dual post: Audrey's writing is on the left, Molly's is on the right in italics.)

My dad's birthday cake is always one of my favorites. Don't get me wrong, I love all birthday cakes, but my dad's almost always involves fall flavors like pumpkin or cinnamon. And I mean come on, you can't go wrong with pumpkin or cinnamon.

This year, my dad requested chocolate in his cake. I didn't argue. But I didn't know if that meant he didn't want pumpkin or cinnamon or what. I had no ideas. *Enter Molly* Molly came up with the brilliant idea behind this cake, and I executed it.

This cake was my brainchild, and Audrey's labor of love. If you ask me, it's fitting that a father's cake be executed by both of his baker daughters. It's kind of like a joint gift from us to him, like one of those homemade gifts you would make when you were little before you could afford to actually buy people stuff. Only better, because it's a culinary homemade gift...and not in the way that uncooked macaroni art is a culinary homemade gift. But like, in an actually tasty way. Like, crazy tasty. Like, you're welcome, dad. And world. (We're nothing if not humble.)

On top of being extremely delicious and wonderful, this cake was really fun to make. I have always wanted to make chocolate cake using mayonnaise because I've heard about it several times and read a book where they baked with it. It sounds weird, doesn't it? But trust me. It's not. It does not taste like mayonnaise. There is no hint of mayonnaise. All chocolate. Really moist, not-too-dense-not-too-light chocolate. AND by adding mayonnaise, there's no need for eggs in the batter, so you can eat as much batter as you want and not get salmonella. Although I didn't do that, I promise.

Also, if you eat too much batter you won't have enough left for the cake. And lemme just say: You want enough left over for the cake. The batter is good, sure...but the cake is 11x* better.

*denotes a scientific measurement

Doesn't that just look disgusting though? I promise you do not even THINK about that when you taste the final product. I was literally so distracted by how awesome the whole cake was that I didn't even stop to think that there was a cup and a half of mayonnaise.

The mayo made this cake so moist that I could tell it would be supermoist before I even tasted it. Before I TOUCHED it, even. I could tell just by looking at and smelling it. I kid you not.

"This cake smells really moist." - literal quote from me to Audrey

("Oook..." - literal quote from Audrey to me)

So for this recipe, you have to make the cheesecake the day before, but it's a super simple recipe. And really good. Like really good. I could just eat the cheesecake plain. I plan to, even, because we had to level the cheesecake to make it a normal sized layer, and Molly formed the leftover cheesecake bits into cheesecake balls. You just roll the cheesecake into balls, freeze them, and then dip them in chocolate. Yum.

And then I had to leave home to go back to school before we dipped them in chocolate, so I never got to taste the final product of the cheesecake ball :'(. But I guess I did get some consolation prize: eating the cake itself.
(In case you haven't notice, I have an affinity for close up shots. You get all the detail of the baked good and they have an interesting angle to them. That's just me. But I hope you like them too)

And the FROSTING. Cinnamon + chocolate = delicious. Marvelous. Fantastic. Way better than you might think. Although if you think it sounds amazing, it is. I was slightly skeptical. I don't know why. It was AWESOME. The cinnamon wasn't overpowering, and it complimented the chocolate of the frosting and cake.

I don't know why she was skeptical either. I had a vision...and that vision became a beautiful spicy-sweet reality.

All combined, everything complimented each other well, and it was a great birthday cake. My dad loved it, which is the only important thing, really. And I loved it. All my family loved it. You would probably love it too.

We were told that this is one of the best cakes we've ever made. And between you and me...we've made some pretty killer cakes in our day. So that's saying something.

- Molly

Chocolate, Pumpkin, and Cinnamon Layer Cake
Pumpkin Cheesecake
From I Wash, You Dry

3 x (8 oz packages) cream cheese, softened
1 (15 oz can) pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In your oven arrange a rack on the lowest shelf and the other in the middle.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degress F.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin, eggs and yolk, sour cream, sugar, and spices. Beat until combined and smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.
4. Add the flour and vanilla and mix until combined. Pour mixture into a springform pan, greased and the bottom lined with non-stick aluminum foil.
5. Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 2 more hours, then remove from oven and let come to room temperature completely before placing in fridge for 6-8 hours (overnight for best results).

Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake
From Baking Chic

6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp.vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350°F, grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Sift cocoa, flour, baking soda, salt and sugar into a medium bowl, mix well. Combine mayonnaise, vanilla and water in an electric mixer at low speed. Once smooth, slowly add in dry mixture until just incorporated (do not over beat). Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until done. Cool on wire racks and frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
From Joy the Baker

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream. Blend in cinnamon, to taste.

To assemble the cake, level both chocolate cakes. Place one cake on a plate and smooth on a thin layer of frosting. Place the cheesecake on top. (If cheesecake is too think for your taste, feel free to cut it in half horizontally.) If the layers don't match up you can use a knife to very carefully remove the sides of the cheesecake to fit. Smooth a thin layer of frosting on top of the cheesecake. Place the last cake layer on top of the cheesecake. Frost the cake. Keep refrigerated.


  1. "Pour mixture into the prepared crust." -- This instruction for the cheesecake layer, I didn't see anything about a prepared crust. Should there be one?

    1. Sorry, that was an instruction leftover from the original cheesecake recipe. I will see that it's taken out, thanks for mentioning it!