I’m often asked if I bake cakes, since I make so many cupcakes. My answer is usually: “Unless it’s a sheet cake or a Bundt cake, no.” I can’t decorate a regular cake to save my life. I’ve really only had one cake turn out well-enough that I was proud of it. Otherwise, I stick to cupcakes. They’re little, and with a piping bag and fun tips, it’s easy to make them look pretty. Cakes, on the other hand, are the bane of my existence. Except for this Mocha Torte with Baileys Buttercream.
I was looking for inspiration while watching “The Avengers” on Sunday (in preparation for finally seeing “Thor 2,” which we missed seeing in the theater), and popped out to go pick up some Baileys (I used the last of it when I made my Green Velvet Cupcakes), as well as garbage bags. I originally thought I would make some Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting, but that would’ve required another trip to the grocery store for powdered sugar. Instead, I decided I’d make some Swiss Meringue Buttercream, since I have plenty of granulated sugar on-hand. Plus, I thought it would pair a little better with the Mocha Torte.
It took everything in my power not to dig in right away, much as I wanted to. I let it sit for a couple hours, just to let the flavors meld a bit–Cake is usually better the next day anyway. I made us wait.
2 C unsalted butter (4 sticks), room temperature and cut into cubes
5 egg whites
1 1/2 C sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. coffee extract
3-4 Tbsp. Baileys Irish Cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high for about 4 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until fully combined. Add in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.
Drop the speed to low, and begin adding in the flour mixture and coffee alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Be careful not to overmix.
Divide the batter evenly between the two baking pans, using a kitchen scalefor accuracy.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking time. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes on wire racks, then invert and remove baking pans. Cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, combine the egg whites and the sugar in the cleaned bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a double-boiler, and whisk for 5-7 minutes, or until the egg whites are foamy and the sugar has dissolved (check by dabbing a bit between your fingers--If it's smooth and tacky, it's ready. If it's at all grainy, cook and check again after another minute). Remove, and place on the mixer.
With the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high until they're glossy and with stiff peaks, and until the mixing bowl is cool to the touch. This can take 10 minutes, if not longer.
Once the mixture is cooled, begin adding the butter on medium-low, a tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter is added, add in the coffee extract and 3-4 Tbsp. of the Baileys. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat the buttercream for 2-3 more minutes, until smooth.
Slice each cake layer in half. Place a layer on a plate, and spread about 3/4 C of the buttercream over the top of the layer. Place another layer on top, and repeat with the remaining two layers and buttercream. Once all the layers are assembled, frost the tops and sides of the cake.
For best flavor, allow the cake to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.
While I am super-proud of this cake, I am also realistic enough to know it needs work. Like evenly-sized layers. And I have a bad tendency to over-think/over-work things…I spent waay more time trying to get the frosting smooth and perfect than was necessary. To the point that I took over 30 minutes to get it where I wanted it, and then spent another 15 messing it all up. Ah, well. It’s edible, and that’s all that matters!