Coffee is my favourite ingredient to play around with in desserts and I am huge sucker for any coffee based desserts. I had been searching for a layered coffee cake that truly elevated the coffee flavour instead of being shadowed by chocolate. When I couldn't find any such recipe, I decided to make one on my own. This cake is packed with coffee flavour. It has a chocolate sponge soaked in a coffee liqueur, coffee Italian meringue buttercream for frosting, a super soft bittersweet chocolate ganache and a shortbread crust to break the monotony of coffee and provide texture. Since the cake has many parts to it, you can make the shortbread crust, ganache and cake the day before. The sponge cake recipe has been adapted from the Chocolate chiffon sponge recipe by the Culinary Institute of America.

Ingredients

50 grams Sugar
100 grams Butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
150 Cake flour
65 grams Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
200 grams Heavy cream
150 Cake flour
60 Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 tablespoon Baking powder
53 grams Sugar
5 Egg yolks
72 grams Vegetable oil
131 Water, warm
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
60 grams Bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
5 Egg whites
1/8 Cream of tartar
120 grams Coffee liqueur
310 grams sugar
5 Egg whites
78 grams Water
462 grams Butter, cubed and softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon water, warm
1 teaspoon Coffee liqueur
1/4 cup Almonds, toasted and ground

Directions

Step 1
For the shortbread crust, using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth and pale in colour, about 2-3 minutes.

Step 2
Add the vanilla extract

Step 3
Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Mix on low speed till just combined. Do not over mix.

Step 4
On a lightly floured surface, roughly shape the dough together. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for minimum 3 hours before rolling. You can make the dough a day before as well and bake the crust next day.

Step 5
Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut an 8inch round. Transfer to a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Step 6
Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Step 7
For the ganache, bring the 100g of the heavy cream to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let it stand for 1 minute, then gently stir to blend. Keep stirring till all the chocolate pieces have melted. Strain and cool.

Step 8
Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before using.

Step 9
For the cake, preheat the oven at 350F. Butter one 8 inch cake pan and line it with a circular parchment paper.

Step 10
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Combine with 18 grams of the sugar in the mixer.

Step 11
Combine the yolks, oil, water, vanilla extract and chocolate.

Step 12
Using a whip attachment on medium speed, slowly add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Once a paste forms, scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue adding the liquid mixture until all is incorporated. Beat for additional 2 minutes on medium speed.

Step 13
Working quickly, in a clean bowl with clean whip attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 35 grams of sugar and the cream of tartar while continuing to whip. Whip until medium peaks form.

Step 14
Fold one third of the beaten egg white mixture with the cake mixture. Gently but thoroughly, fold in the rest of the beaten egg white mixture.

Step 15
Fill the pan with the mixture till not more than three fourth of the pan. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Step 16
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unfold to cool on a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Step 17
For the frosting, combine 78 grams of sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Step 18
Combine the remaining 232 grams sugar with water in a saucepan. Cook till the mixture reaches 240F. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

Step 19
Once the sugar syrup reaches 230F, start whipping the egg whites using a whip attachment on medium to high speed.

Step 20
Once the egg whites reach soft peaks, stream in the hot sugar syrup mixture and continue whipping till the meringue reaches room temperature.

Step 21
Once the meringue is cool, make the buttercream. Switch to the paddle attachment and gradually add the cubed butter one at a time on medium speed. Once the butter is added, the mixture may look curdled. Don't worry it will come together. Beat until smooth and light, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Step 22
Combine the coffee granules with hot water. Stir until all granules have dissolved. Add the vanilla extract, dissolved coffee and coffee liqueur to the buttercream and continue beating till incorporated.

Step 23
Make sure the shortbread crust is baked and cooled before the following steps.

Step 24
Take out the ganache from the fridge and let it come to room temp.

Step 25
For whip ganache, in the bowl of a stand mixer using a whip attachment, whip 100 grams of heavy cream and ganache till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Step 26
For assembly, slice two 1/2 inch layers from the cake.

Step 27
Place the shortbread crust on a cardboard cake round. Coat the top with whipped ganache

Step 28
Place one layer of cake on top. Moisten the cake layer with half of the coffee liqueur.

Step 29
Coat with the coffee Italian meringue buttercream. Top with the second layer of cake and moisten with coffee liqueur.

Step 30
Frost the cake using the remaining buttercream. Press the ground almonds onto the base of the cake.

Step 31
The cake can be stored at room temperature for upto 3 days. \nOnce refrigerated, bring out the cake 30 mins before serving to allow it to come to room temperature.