It’s official. This dessert has overrun my Lemon London Fog Cake as my prettiest creation so far.
Shiny caramelized cake shards, whipped dark chocolate buttercream, seven even layers of light and airy sponge cake.
I couldn’t stop taking pictures!
Despite its stunning presentation, this cake isn’t much harder to make than any of my other creations. Each layer is baked separately, but as long as you have a nice rotation of pans, you can fit two or three in your oven at once. Each layer only needs 4-6 minutes to bake, so I baked my cake in 20 minutes. The thin layers also cool quickly.
Probably the thing that seemed to take the longest was getting the chocolate ganache to cool to the right temperature to whip it in with the butter to make the frosting. I used half 60% chocolate chips and half 99% chocolate for a nice deep dark chocolate frosting. It’s still sweet, but not overly so, and the chocolate flavor really shines through.
The original recipe calls for a chocolate frosting with raw egg whites in it. Not only was I out of eggs (the cake itself needs ten!), but I wasn’t thrilled about raw eggs in my frosting. So, I make the dark chocolate buttercream instead and would absolutely do it again.
I added a bit of lemon zest and almond to the cake itself, and it has a nice subtle fruity and floral taste that I think complements the chocolate nicely. I was worried about it being too heavy on the frosting, but the layers and the thin layers of frosting blend beautifully to make a nice soft cake with a definite (but not overpowering) chocolate flavor. I really can’t say how much I loved the effect of all the thin layers. Not only was it visually appealing, but it was really fun to eat! The stickiness of the sponge helped to hold each bite together. I imagine if you tried to fill it with too much frosting or jam it might be a little slippery, but I didn’t have any problems. (In fact next time I’m considering filling the layers with lemon curd and then making a lemon buttercream for the outside– YUM!)
The stunning top is another layer of sponge cake with a simple sugar-and-water caramel poured over top, then cut into twelve triangles. This provides a thin layer of crunch while the cake itself stays soft. I absolutely love both the look, the texture, and the taste, and am already plotting how to incorporate the technique into other cakes! (You could also use cookie cutters if you wanted specific shapes.)
I followed this recipe for the sponge and made eight 8in round layers. I made some in my 8in cake pans, and spread some on parchment paper circles. Both turned out well. Nothing was completely even but they were all close enough, and I only had to slightly trim one to make it look even when frosted. I did add the zest of one lemon to the batter when I folded in the egg whites, plus 1/2 tsp almond extract.
For the frosting I also went with Smitten Kitchen– Whipped Bittersweet Frosting. The only thing I added was a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to help bring out the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend this frosting– but make sure your chocolate ganache is truly cooled to at least room temperature before adding it to the butter. I didn’t have any trouble, but I could see how it might be tricky.
I piped small stars on top of the cake in twelve places and then rested the caramel shards on top, leaving a small open circle in the middle where they overlapped. I loved the way this looked, though it does mean you have to take one off to cut a slice. Laying it directly on top might make it easier to actually eat with the cake, but you can decide.
Although you’d think this would be an incredibly rich cake, the light sponge keeps it feeling not so heavy, and a medium piece was perfect for me with a cup of tea. I hope you make it next time you need to create something pretty, or even just because!