Andrea is a home baker who loves to perfect challenging cakes, breads, and the like. She is on a quest to find the perfect flavor combos.
A Grownup Chocolate Cake
The following chocolate cake recipe is for someone who wants something more mature and flavorful than the typical box cake. The secret to this cake is the ruby blossom tea, which gives it a distinct profile.
I used the ruby blossom tea from Oregon Tea Traders. The tea is a blend of hibiscus, cardamom, marshmallow root, and rose petals. There are similar teas you could use from other vendors. I would suggest a blend that has hibiscus and cardamom. I'm letting you know what I used, so you can get as close to my recipe as possible.
If you are in a bind and need something in a pinch, I recommend using my substitution for the tea, which is a combo of cardamom and rose extract (this is listed under the substitution section).
The chocolate buttercream has a fudge-like texture, and you could eat the buttercream by spoonfuls and just skip the cake. Hidden strawberries in the cake add a pop of flavor and decadence. The cake is delicate and fluffy. It's unlike any cake you've tasted, and people will think you've mastered the art of baking. Ginger and cinnamon shouldn't be skipped as they help bring all the flavors together.
I don't recommend this cake for a child's birthday. The flavors might be too strong or confusing to them. For kids, I recommend straightforward flavors and fewer ingredients. By all means, make this cake and let them sample it to see if they like it. I think the cake is more appropriate for an anniversary or graduation.
This cake isn't hard to make. It follows fairly standard steps. The hardest part is procuring the ruby blossom tea and grinding it down. Otherwise, this shouldn't be too hard to make. I give it two out of five stars on the difficulty scale. One star is for something a child could make or a cake box mix... the five stars rating is for a restaurant-worthy tiramisu.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 15 min
1 hour 55 min
Making the cake batter takes about 30 minutes. The cakes will bake for about 30-45 minutes depending on the baker's oven. Do check every five minutes on the cakes when you reach the 30-minute mark.
It will take about 10-15 minutes to make the frosting and anywhere from 20-30 minutes to assemble the cake depending on what tools you have.
I recommend making the cakes and letting them cool while you do something else, like watch TV or eat dinner. Then spend another segment of time focusing on the icing and assembling the cakes into one tempting dessert.
For the cake:
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ground ruby blossom tea mix
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
For the buttercream frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk, as needed
- 1 cup strawberries, chopped
- Flour: If you don't have cake flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour. Drop the extra 2 tablespoons of flour and just use two cups.
- Tea: As for the ruby blossom tea, you could also use two teaspoons of black cardamom and complement it with one teaspoon of rose extract. It won't be quite the same as the tea, but it will be similar and will still elevate the flavor of the finished cake. Add the cardamom when combining the dry ingredients. Add the rose extract right after you add the vanilla extract.
- Oil: You don't have to use coconut oil. You could use vegetable oil or something similar.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with cooking spray or buttering. Lightly add flour.
- Grind down the ruby blossom tea. I put mine in a Ninja processor. You want the tea to be tiny enough that when added to the batter you won't have odd chunks. It's okay if there are some slight flakey bits, but overall you'll have a powder. Be forewarned: when you open your food processor, the fragrance will be pretty strong.
- Begin boiling water, so it's ready to be added later.
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ruby blossom tea, ginger, and cinnamon to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the mixture until it is well combined. Use the paddle attachment.
- Add the wet ingredients one at a time. Add milk, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla to the dry flour mixture. Wait until an ingredient is fully incorporated before adding something new. Mix the ingredients on a medium speed. Once it has all been combined, STOP.
- On the lowest speed, add the boiling water to the cake batter. Once it has been combined, turn off the unit.
- Evenly distribute the cake batter into the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes. Check at 30 minutes to see if a toothpick will come out clean from the center. Test again every five minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The timing will vary depending on the oven. My cakes were done at 45 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for ten minutes. On a clean working surface, turn the pans over and remove the cakes. Let them cool completely before adding the buttercream.
- In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat together butter, cream cheese, and mascarpone. About 3 minutes.
- Add cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Use a shield guard, so the sugar doesn't fly out and get everywhere. Add milk to thin out the cream and make it easier for your mixer. I add milk after about 5 cups of powdered sugar. The frosting should be thick. It will thicken as it gets cold in the fridge. It will make a fudge-like consistency.
- Cover one cake with frosting. Add cut-up strawberries on top then add the second cake. Cover everything with the frosting.
The cakes might be delicate and might not come out of the pans with ease. It's okay if the cake comes out in sections. You can mash them together back into their circular shape. Frosting will cover any mistakes, so it's okay if your cake breaks. Just mash pieces back together and cover with frosting. It will meld together even more in the fridge.
You don't want to leave your cake out in the kitchen at room temperature. The frosting will melt.
Do not simply add the tea to your cake batter and expect the stand mixer to grind down the pieces. You will have disagreeable pieces in your cake if you do this!
If you don't want to add the tea as a powder, you could boil the tea for your one cup of boiled water. Boiling the tea has the advantage of making for a more smooth finish to the cake; however, it might warp the flavor of the tea.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence