Chocolate Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

There’s no story behind this one – I needed a dessert for a holiday get together and while tearing through the Cooking Light from November, I saw a Chocolate-Orange Layer Cake.  I’m not a fan of that combination, and having seen a dessert with brown sugar buttercream on a restaurant menu recently, I decided to combine the two.  The cake is definitely bittersweet, and the buttercream has a pleasing, unexpected taste.  Hard to describe.  On Martha’s website, she pairs it with an apple cake, which I think would be fantastic.

Chocolate Cake
from Cooking Light, November 2010
yield 16 servings

1 cup boiling water
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
cooking spray
1 3/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
7.4 ounces cake flour (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine 1 cup boiling water and 2/3 cup cocoa in a bowl, stirring until smooth.  Add 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate and stir until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.  Coat 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper.  Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust each pan with 1 teaspoon flour.  Prepare the cake according to the Creaming Method outlined in this post.  Add the sour cream after the egg whites.  Use the cocoa mixture as a liquid to alternate with flour.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks.  Invert cake layers onto racks; cool completely.  Discard wax paper.

Brown Sugar Buttercream
from Martha Stewart Living
yield 4 cups

4 large egg whites
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into chunks

In a double boiler, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt.  Cook, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.  Transfer to the clean bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium speed with the whisk attachment about 15 minutes – until fluffy and cooled.  Raise the speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form.  Reduce speed to medium-low and add butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time until fully incorporated.  If the mixture looks separated after all of the butter has been incorporated, reduce speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, then on low for 3 minutes.

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