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Recipe

Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows

Scott Phillips

Servings: sixteen.

All the rich flavor of hot chocolate—in cake form. Homemade marshmallows piled on top seal the deal.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 4-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the frosting

  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 oz. (2 cups) natural unsweetened cocoa powder; more for decorating
  • 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For the marshmallows

  • Three 1/4-oz. envelopes unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar; more as needed

Nutritional Information

      Calories (kcal) : 1080
      Fat Calories (kcal): 420
      Fat (g): 47
      Saturated Fat (g): 23
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4.5
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17
      Cholesterol (mg): 130
      Sodium (mg): 350
      Carbohydrates (g): 161
      Fiber (g): 8
      Protein (g): 14

Preparation

Make the cake

  • Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment, then dust with flour and knock out the excess.

    In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the butter, oil, chopped chocolate, and 1 cup water. Heat over medium heat until melted.

    In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until combined.
    Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.

    Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Make the frosting

  • In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, butter, and vanilla bean and seeds and stir until the butter is melted. Remove the vanilla bean and whisk in the chopped chocolate until melted. Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, syrup, and salt until smooth—be sure the cocoa powder dissolves completely. Pour into a 9×13-inch pan and freeze until firm, about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Make the marshmallows

  • Pour 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment.

    Clip a candy thermometer to a 3-quart saucepan; don’t let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. In the saucepan, boil the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water over medium heat without stirring until it reaches 234°F to 235°F, about 10 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin in a slow, thin stream.

    Add the vanilla, carefully increase the speed to high, and beat until the mixture has thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes (the bottom of the bowl should be just warm to the touch). Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Sift 1 Tbs. of the confectioners’ sugar into the bottom of the pan, then pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and sift another 1 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar on top. Let sit at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours.

Assemble the cake

  • Remove the frosting from the freezer or refrigerator. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to soften. Change to a whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

    Put a cake layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with 1-1/2 cups of the frosting, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula to the cake’s edge. Repeat with another cake layer and 1-1/2 cups frosting. Top with the last cake layer.

    Put 1-1/2 cups of the frosting in a small bowl. With an offset spatula, spread this frosting in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting firms enough to seal in the crumbs, 20 to 30 minutes.

    Spread the remaining frosting in a smooth layer over the top and sides of the cake. If necessary, you can rewhip the remaining frosting to loosen and lighten it. Remove the waxed paper strips.

    Use the foil overhang to lift the marshmallow from the pan. Using a knife that has been dipped in cold water, cut along the edge of the marshmallow to release it from the foil. Transfer to a cutting board and remove the foil. Put the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the marshmallow into cubes of different sizes, from 1/4 to 3/4 inch (you will need to continue to dip the knife in cold water as you cut the marshmallows). The marshmallows will be very sticky—dip the cut edges in the confectioners’ sugar to make them easier to handle. As you work, toss a few cubes at a time in the sugar to coat, then shake in a strainer to remove the excess. Mound the marshmallows on top of the cake (you’ll need only a third to half of them). Sift some cocoa powder over the marshmallows.

Make Ahead Tips

You can bake, cool, wrap, and store the cake layers at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month. You can refrigerate the frosting for up to 3 days. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours (return to room temperature before serving). Wrapped well, leftover marshmallows keep at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Reviews

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Reviews

  • brozy_a | 10/17/2017

    Hands-down my favorite chocolate cake. Rich, moist, and intensely chocolatey. Every time I have this, it reminds me of Mrs. Trunchbull's cake. I have been too lazy, thus far, to make the marshmallows. I will someday, but the cake is perfect even without them.

    It is worth the time and it's worth using the best ingredients you have. (I prefer to use Callebaut cocoa and chocolate, around 65%.) This is a recipe that has turned me off of trying new chocolate cake recipes, and I can't wait to make it again.

  • AlaskanWolf | 01/03/2017

    Ive made this several times for birthday cakes. It is important to use dark cocoa powder in the cake it makes a big difference taste-wise. Ive used both and much preferred the dark cocoa powder. The frosting is best part of this recipe. Ive never quite had a chocolate frosting like this one. The lyle's syrup makes a subtle flavor in the frosting. This is time consuming, I planned two days ahead, especially to let the frosting set. The frosting is very very good, but it does make alot of it! this is my go-to birthday cake recipe for very special people!

  • laurielovestocook | 07/30/2016

    I really don't love to bake but when I do I want it to not only taste great but I want it to be beautiful! This is a beautiful, tasty cake! I made it for a birthday at work and they raved about it! It did seem a bit dense when I tasted it (couldn't eat a piece..I don't like chocolate) I have read through the reviews and I am going to make the changes that Roxanne_Rieske recommended. Although time consuming as mentioned, it is SO worth making the frosting and the homemade marshmallows! Making it again this weekend!!

  • hjmuller | 12/12/2015

    This cake is very good, albeit extremely rich and chocolaty. As an American living in Finland, I had to alter the directions slightly to make the recipe work without the called-for equipment and ingredients: a) substitute equal amount glucose syrup for corn syrup in marshmallow recipe; b) substitute Dutched cocoa for natural in icing recipe; c) substitute the Finnish dairy product AB piim for buttermilk; and d) substitute equal amount Dutched cocoa for natural in the cake recipe. Add 1 tsp. red wine vinegar and 1 tsp. baking powder to cake batter to compensate for altered pH level. I dried my marshmallows about 24 hours before slicing--a metal bench scraper worked well for this for me. Since I didn't have a working candy thermometer, I cooked the marshmallow sugar syrup to soft-ball stage. Finally, since there is no way you can fit 3 cake layers at the same time into a tiny 50-cm European oven, I had to bake the layers in stages. Not a good idea, but it worked out okay. Thank you!

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