Remember the brave Matilda character Bruce Bogtrotter who, under evil Miss Trunchbull’s orders, eats an entire chocolate cake in front of his peers? Well, it’s National Chocolate Cake Day, and we’re dedicating this one to him. To honor our love for the cocoa confection (and Bruce’s heroism), we’re baking the unbelievable 10 Layer Chocolate Cake from Zac Young, the executive pastry chef of the renowned David Burke Group (and mastermind behind Piecaken). Young’s latest behemoth baked good boasts five layers of dark chocolate buttermilk cake, five layers of malted chocolate-caramel butter cream, and a topping of chocolate ganache, gold leaf, and chocolate-dusted chocolate shards. Did we mention chocolate? There’s chocolate.
The decadent treat is currently being offered at David Burke at Bloomingdales in New York for $12 a slice (whole cakes available upon request). If you’re feeling up to the challenge, try recreating the masterpiece in your kitchen. “This towering chocolate cake is a delicious stunner,” says Young. “It’s perfect for a dinner party, a gift, or eating your feelings.”
10 Layer Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate-Caramel Buttercream
Serves 8 to 12
For the Cake
1 cup best quality cocoa powder ($13; valrhona-chocolate.com)
2 cups warm water
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
For the Caramel Sauce (for the Malted Chocolate-Caramel Buttercream)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp salt
For the Buttercream (for the Malted Chocolate-Caramel Buttercream)
8 whole egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
2 lbs (8 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup malt powder
1/2 cup best quality cocoa powder
For the Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp corn syrup or honey
8 oz best quality dark chocolate ($40; valrhona-chocolate.com)
Gold leaf ($24; almagourmet.com)
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. You will need to bake 5 thin layers of cake. If you have five 8-inch cake pans, great! If not, you can bake them in batches. Line the 8-inch pans with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan, spraying the sides and bottom with nonstick spray before lining.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the warm water with the cocoa powder until smooth. In a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl by hand), beat the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs on medium speed until combined. Turn the machine to lowest speed and add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until just incorporated, but do not over mix! Stream in the cocoa power and water mixture and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Stir in the buttermilk; the batter will be very liquid. Divide the batter into 5 equal portions (about 1 ¼ cup each). Pour the portioned batter in the prepared tin. Bake at 325°F for 12-18 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and baked through. Once slightly cooled, remove the cake from the pan. Repeat until you have five layers, spraying and lining the tin with parchment before you fill with batter. Let cool while you make the buttercream.
3. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add enough water to make a “wet sand” consistency, about 1¼ to ½ cup. Cook the sugar until it is dark amber and almost smoking, then turn off the heat. Carefully add the cream—it will bubble and spatter, so stand back! Once the caramel has calmed down, add the salt and whisk smooth. Transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool.
4. Find a pot that will fit the bottom of the bowl of a KitchenAid, fill it with three inches of water, and bring to a simmer. Place the egg whites and the sugar in the mixer bowl and place over the simmering pot of water. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm, about 4 minutes. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium high until cool (about 8-10 minutes). Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and gradually add to the mixer. Mix until the butter has incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the room temperature caramel sauce, malt powder, and cocoa powder, and whisk until combined.
5. To assemble: Flip the first layer of cake onto an 8-inch cardboard cake board. Top with a thin layer of frosting. Repeat until all the cake layers are used and you have five layers of cake and five layers of frosting. Coat the sides of the cake with frosting and comb with a cake comb, if desired. Set in refrigerator or freezer while you make the ganache.
6. To finish: Spread the ganache evenly over the top of the chilled cake. Let the ganache dribble down the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until the ganache sets, about 10 minutes. Decorate with chocolate shavings, gold leaf, sprinkles or chopped nuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature.