White chocolate layer cake with hazelnut espresso buttercream is a cake worthy of a celebration!
Hey, guess what? IBK turned two last week! On Friday to be precise.
I’ve been blogging for two whole years! WHAT? Two whole years of eating way more sugar than I really should, all in the name of recipe testing. Two years of baking cakes and cookies and pies on an almost daily basis. Two years of obsessively keeping my fridge stocked with butter. (OK that last one isn’t any different than my life before blogging. I need my buttah!)
I’m totally not complaining.
Really, I feel like I’ve only been blogging for the last six-ish months because for the first year and a half I was too embarrassed to pin my content on Pinterest/share on FB/tell anyone I even had a blog.
Then six months ago I (sort of) gave up on my need for posts to be perfect. And now I’m not (as) embarrassed.
That is the greatest gift blogging has given me: the knowledge that something doesn’t have to be exactly the way I want it before I can be happy.
The second greatest gift is the amazing community of bloggers (don’t gag—it’s true!) I have the pleasure of calling my friends. I love you guys so much! Reading your posts and hearing your feedback on mine brings me more joy than I can express.
Two WHOLE YEARS of IBK calls for a cake. A delicious white chocolate layer cake, amiright?
I actually wanted to make a chocolate and peanut butter cake, similar to last year’s IBK birthday cake, but it just never turned out right.
My perfectionism is on the mend but clearly not yet cured. I’ll bring you that cake at some point but for now you’ll have to settle for a white chocolate layer cake with hazelnut espresso buttercream.
Oh yeah, and a dark chocolate espresso ganache drip. Can’t forget that! But if you wanted to simplify your cake, or if you have a cocoa allergy, just don’t do the drip. Or make it a white chocolate ganache drip! That would be delicious too; I used dark because I like the color contrast.
The buttercream on this cake has given me a whole new love for hazelnuts. You know they’re delicious combined with chocolate (Nutella is my kryptonite) but did you know that with a little coffee flavor they’re even better? It’s true. The bitterness from the espresso powder combined with the sweetness from the Frangelico and the crunch of the hazelnuts is mind-bogglingly good.
Then you add the sweet white chocolate cake layers and you just never even want to stop eating.
I currently have five pieces of leftover cake sitting in my freezer. I’m truly afraid of what’s going to happen when my 2 o’clock sugar craving hits me this afternoon. . .send help! And have a fabulous day!
- 6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 (16- to 18-ounce) box white cake mix
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons Frangelico
- 4 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 to 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 to 3 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped toasted hazelnuts + additional hazelnuts for decorating (if desired)
- 4.5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream*
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, spray the paper with cooking spray, and set pans aside.
- Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed with an electric mixer until just combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat to combine. Turn mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake 28 to 32 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Beat butter on medium speed until very smooth. Add the Frangelico, espresso powder, and salt and beat 1 minute more. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Beat in 1 tablespoon of milk to combine. Turn mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes, until very light and fluffy. If frosting is too thick, add additional milk or cream. If it’s too thin add additional powdered sugar.
- Transfer about 1 cup of the frosting to a small mixing bowl and fold in the chopped hazelnuts. This will be your filling.
- If your cake layers have domed, use a serrated knife to trim them so they’re even. Place one of the layers on a cake stand and spread the filling into an even layer over the top. Top with remaining cake layer. Apply a thin coat of frosting to the outside of the cake, then refrigerate to set, about 30 minutes. (This is your crumb coat and will prevent cake crumbs from getting in the frosting on the final layer.)
- Spread remaining frosting over the crumb coat.
- Refrigerate cake for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan set over medium heat and warm the cream until it just begins to steam. Stir in the espresso powder, then pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer the ganache to a reusable plastic piping bag and snip off the tip (or a large zip-top plastic bag and snip off one of the corners, or a plastic squeeze bottle).
- Take cake out of the fridge and gently squeeze a circle of ganache around the top edge of the cake, applying a little extra pressure at certain points to create drips. Carefully spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cake. Top with chopped hazelnuts, if desired. Refrigerate to set the ganache, then slice the cake and serve.
*This was exactly the right amount of heavy cream for my ganache drip—I used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate. Depending on the brand of chocolate you use, you made need a little more or less heavy cream; you want the ganache to be thin enough to drip nicely down the cake but not so thin that it runs. If you use milk or white chocolate, you’ll most likely need heavy cream.
Cake layers adapted from McCormick.com