Chocolate Crunch Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting by Maida Heatter
I am making a cake today, one of my favorite things to do. My opportunities to make one are few and far between these days, unfortunately.
I belong to a Knitting Club (Stitch ‘N Bitch, very appropriately named, I must say!) and it’s the Birthday of one of the women in the group. Of course I volunteered to make a cake! I knew exactly what I wanted to bring after I was told that chocolate is her favorite flavor.
It’s been over 10 years since I first made this cake and it’s an absolute winner, from the Queen of Desserts herself, Maida Heatter. So, while looking for the recipe on-line, I also found a wealth of information on Maida Heatter herself. Below is a 2 part interview by LA Weekly Blogs that is most enjoyable! In it Maida Heatter mentions her Palm Beach Brownies: well I have made those too and will share my adventure (totally decadent, even the burnt edges are good!) in the future!
I also realized I have 2 of her books, that I got from my sister: cant’ wait to make a few recipes out of these!
I am posting a link to the recipe because I pretty much follow it to the letter, with just a few tweaks here and there, on procedure.
But I am sharing pictures of my progress and a notes.
Ingredient and procedure notes:
1. For the chocolate in the cake and in the frosting I use Ghirardelli. I highly recommend this. I have to confess: I made 2 of these cakes today because I was not pleased with the frosting. It tasted off, like I burnt it but it may have just been the chocolate, I don’t know. Because of this, I recommend Ghirardelli and use my procedure for melting the chocolate with the heavy cream mixture, to ensure that the frosting is not burnt. Chocolate burns so easily it’s ridiculous. You may not even know it until you taste it!
2. I do not use unsalted butter in the cake or frosting. I cannot tell the difference. I use salted butter in everything, even if the recipe calls for unsalted. And I don’t adjust the salt in the recipe either: I use whatever they say. I looked up this contradiction on-line: it’s about 50/50 of people who can tell the difference and people who cannot. Do whatever you feel is best.
3. For the cake’s chocolate: combine chopped chocolate and hot water in a glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove. Stir, stir, stir with a whisk. It should almost be melted. Then put back in microwave for another 10 seconds. Stir, stir, stir with a whisk. It should be completely melted by now.
4. Sift the dry ingredients rather than whisking them. Cake flour tends to be lumpy. So put the cake flour, baking soda and salt in a strainer over a bowl and stir with a spoon until sifted through.
5. Bake cake layers for 20 – 25 minutes (for my oven anyway). 35 minutes was way too long for me.
6. To make the icing: put chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Simmer heavy cream ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Let it come up to JUST a simmer and pour this mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute or two. Whisk to combine. Then put chocolate mixture over bowl of ice. Beat with beaters (not a whisk) for 6 minutes. Perfect icing!!
7. I could not find Heath Bars or Skor candy (I have since scored some Skor at CVS: haha! next time) so I use Heath Toffee Bits for the crunch in the middle. You can use all Toffee Bits or mix half Toffee Bits with 1/8 inch diced Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate, which is what I did this time. The crunch in the middle is the surprising part, so it’s an important step.
8. Chocolate curls: my first attempt on my first cake of today was a shredding disaster! Not enough info in this recipe. It is not particularly easy either: patience is key!! So, make sure the chocolate is at room temperature. I have under counter lighting and put the unwrapped chocolate there while I was making the cake, etc. Experiment with the vegetable peelers that you have: I had two and one worked better than the other. Using steady pressure and holding the chocolate with a paper towel folded 2-3 times, run the peeler along the edge of the chocolate bar like it says in the recipe, EXCEPT carefully take each curl when completed and set aside or put on cake. They break easily. Mine were really big curls and I got a lot of ooh’s and aah’s at my Stitch N Bitch. So take the time to make them.
fold wax paper in half, trace outline of bottom of pan, cut 2 circles at once:
spray pans with canola oil:
insert wax paper circles and spray pans again:
one tablespoon of flour in each pan:
rotate pan to cover with flour & dump out excess:
chocolate and water mixture for the cake:
sift the dry ingredients instead of whisking:
batter in pans and ready to go in oven:
cooling for 5 minutes:
cakes removed from pan, wax paper off, completely cool after about 30 minutes:
for frosting, put chopped chocolate in medium bowl:
pour just simmered heavy cream mixture over chocolate, let sit for a minute or two:
chocolate and heavy cream mixture over bowl of ice:
what the frosting should look like after 6 minutes of beating:
1/2 toffee bits and 1/2 milk chocolate bits:
one layer, bottom side up, placed on an upside down paper plate:
1-1/2 cups of frosting and starting to put toffee/chocolate bits on:
completed middle layer:
second cake on top (bottom to bottom) & a somewhat thin layer of frosting over all:
put rest of frosting on top, concentrating it along the edge of the cake :
bring frosting down & spreading on edge of cake (this is a picture of my first cake, the picture/procedure was better):
chocolate curls on top:
this is a slice of the cake taken at Stitch N Bitch by the initiator of the club and my friend, Marie (that’s Olivia (or Ollie), their boxer mix in the background. What a cutie!):