Caramel Cappuccino Cake – espresso cake paired with caramel buttercream frosting, topped with whole coffee beans and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

A new layer cake recipe by our contributor, Tessa Huff.
As we approach fall, yet are still experiencing warm summer temperatures, August calls for something just plain delicious. Being in between seasons, I didn’t want to make a recipe using the last of the summer produce that might be gone any day now nor did I want to jump the gun into fall baking (there will be PLENTY of that coming up soon). Instead, I wanted to focus on a cake with exceptional flavor. Something not too gimmicky. A cake that can be enjoyed all year round.

Enter this Caramel Cappuccino Cake. The flavor profile isn’t too flashy with too unique of ingredients or anything. It’s familiar but not boring. It’s neither trendy nor basic. It’s not outwardly coffee-flavored either, just moist and tasty with hints of espresso. The type of cake you could possibly eat on any day of the week or for any special occasion. Plus, caramel. Nobody has ever said “No” to caramel buttercream, right?

The espresso and brown sugar are really what elevates this simple butter cake into something spectacular. The coffee soak keeps it extra moist and adds just a bit more coffee flavor to the velvety cake.[post_ads_2] Using a Swiss meringue buttercream base, I find it easier to add more caramel sauce than you could to an American buttercream before it gets too cloyingly sweet. And in my opinion, the more caramel the better, so this option was a clear choice. You can use this recipe for caramel sauce, or your own favorite (store-bough or homemade).

For the decoration, I used a buttercream spiral to mimic that of a cup of swirly coffee. I kept some of the buttercream plain vanilla in order to give a bit of contrast to the piped dollops of frosting – think dollops of foamy cappuccino! I topped each with a whole coffee bean, but I bet a chocolate-covered bean would be even better. Lastly, a pinch of cocoa powder to finish it off. You could also use a sprinkling of cinnamon – yumm! In either case, a little goes a long way, so be mindful of your “sprinkling” since once it’s on, it doesn’t come off.

a layer cake recipe by Tessa Huff

For the Cappuccino Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup strong, hot coffee

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder.   Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and brown sugar and increase the speed to medium-high. Continue mixing until the butter and sugars are creamed together. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  4. With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla followed by the eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. In alternating batches, add in half of the dry ingredients, followed by the whole milk, then the remaining dry – mixing on low in between. Mix until the batter is just combined then scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the hot coffee and mix until smooth.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the three pans. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 24 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

For the Coffee Soak:
½ cup water
½ cup granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon instant espresso powder

Combine all of the ingredients together in a saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a slight boil. Lower the heat and simmer on low for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until use.

For the Caramel Buttercream:
6 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, cubed, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup caramel sauce, or to taste

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Gently whisk until combined.
  2. Place mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler.  Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl back to the stand mixer.
  3. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg mixture on high for 8 to 10 minutes until stiff, glossy peaks and the outside of the mixing bowl returns to room temperature.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on low, slowly add cubed butter and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add vanilla extract and whip on medium  until silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Reserve 1 cup of the vanilla buttercream and set aside. To the remaining buttercream, add the caramel sauce and beat the frosting on medium speed until silky smooth.

For the Assembly:
reserved vanilla buttercream
whole coffee beans
cocoa powder

  1. After the cakes have cooled, trim the tops as needed until level. Generously brush the cakes with the coffee soak.
  2. Place the bottom cake layer on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on about 1 cup of caramel buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
  3. Use the remaining caramel buttercream to frost the entire cake. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip with the reserved vanilla buttercream. Pipe dollops of frosting around the top edge of the cake. Top with coffee beans and a few pinches of cocoa powder.

Courtesy: The Cake Blog


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