Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Sweet Mocha Buttercream on a Fine Cake

I've been doing very little baking, well, little if you are me. It was a good idea while I was getting my digestion processes back on track. It would probably still be a good idea for my waistline, but the urge to bake is very strong now that I have a dedicated place to do it.

On Sunday I baked a half recipe of a very fine coffee flavored butter cake. I baked it in a loaf tin, which meant that for Sunday evening dessert Sweetie and I could have a slice of cake. It was moist and delicious and I think Sweetie would have loved to finish it off. I knew that I wanted to try it with Mocha Buttercream, so we restrained ourselves so that there would be cake to frost once the frosting was made. He assured me that it was better un-frosted. That might have been because I used a bit of bourbon to dissolve the espresso powder I used in the cake, plus I used strong cold coffee instead of water in the recipe, so there were some interesting flavors going on.

On Monday I made a half recipe of Mocha Buttercream, using some more espresso dissolved in bourbon, plus a nice rich cocoa powder for the chocolate part. I love this recipe, even though it is a bit more work than a butter and confectioners sugar buttercream. You start by whisking egg whites and sugar over simmering water. After 3-4 minutes the mixture has gotten white and very much like soft marshmallow cream. You transfer the mixture to a stand mixer and whisk it with the mixer until cool, about 5 minutes or so. Then you add small blobs of soft butter while the machine whisks. It takes a little while for the butter to be absorbed, but that also thickens up the mixture. Then you add the chocolate-coffee-bourbon mixture and beat it until it becomes the perfect, thick, creamy buttercream. I used an offset spatula to frost a layer in the middle of the split cake, then a layer on top. Switching to a pastry bag with star tip, I put rosettes all over the sides and as decoration on the top. It goes more quickly than you might imagine as long as you don't insist on the rosettes being perfect. Since the buttercream goes on pretty soft, I always follow up with letting the cake sit in the fridge for a while before serving.

Sweetie had to admit, the cake was even better with this decadent frosting.  He isn't usually a cake loving person, bu this one may have changed his mind.

Cake With Bourbon and Coffee Flavor 
based on a cake in The Southern Cake Book

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter a 9"x5" loaf pan. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a stand mixer, until mixture is fluffy. Gradually add egg whites, on-third at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix together the bourbon and espresso powder, letting the espresso powder dissolve. Then add the brewed coffee and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the coffee mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top with a spatula and rap the pan against the counter top twice, sharply, to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30-35 minutes, turning the loaf pan half way around about half way through the baking time. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean when cake is done. Remove to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes, then run a knife around the pan to loosen the cake and turn the cake out, cooling cake right side up.

When completely cool, split cake in half horizontally, then fill and frost with Mocha Buttercream (recipe below). Serves 5-6.

Mocha Bourbon Buttercream

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons espresso powder
4 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon best quality cocoa

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water (but don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot, about 3 minutes.

2. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddles and beat in the softened butter a few small pieces at a time, and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth, about 6 – 10 minutes. While the buttercream is becoming smooth, dissolve the espresso powder in the bourbon in a small bowl, then stir in the cocoa until mixture is smooth. Once the buttercream is smooth, add the espresso-cocoa mixture, a little at a time and beat until everything is smooth again. It may take 5-10 minutes of beating.

3. Put half the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Use an offset spatula to fill and frost the top of the cake, then pipe rosettes of buttercream on the sides of the cake and decorate as you like. Any leftover buttercream can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.


  1. Bourbon buttercream!? Wow. WOW. It does indeed sound decadent. We're baking more now, because May seems to be the month of guests - and to have a nice kitchen to do it in would indeed make me want to bake more!

  2. My dear ... that would appear to win over just about any body and every one!