Yes, you are seeing that correctly…the filling is as thick as each cake layer! So amazing! – especially for the birthday girls…I’m not sure any of the adults got through a proper slice! For the past few years this has been our go-to birthday cake, but for this year’s special birthday, we had a ‘favorites’ birthday lunch/brunch so I came up with the requested birthday pie, and then I was given free rein on the cake. We all need to thank Yoga of Cooking for this recipe and idea, and if you ever need a really special cake for a really special someone(s), then oh my goodness, this is it! But please read the recipe carefully, the cake layers can for sure be made ahead and certain steps need to be given time to cool before proceeding – enjoy!
For the cake – for 3, 8-inch layers;
2 c. flour AND 1 t. salt
3/4 c. cocoa AND 1 1/2 t. baking powder
5 oz. good dark chocolate, chopped AND 1/2 c. strong coffee
10 T. (142 g) butter, softened AND 1 3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk – all room temperature
3/4 c. buttermilk, room temperature AND 2 t. vanilla
For the Filling – this makes a lot and we highly recommend that you use it all!
10 T. (142 g) butter AND 1 1/4 light brown sugar
1 can (354 mL/12 oz) evaporated milk AND 3 egg yolks
1/2 t. salt AND 1 t. vanilla
2 c. unsweetened coconut AND 1 1/2 c. chopped pecans
For the Chocolate Buttercream – this is the perfect amount;
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. cocoa AND 2 1/2 c. icing sugar
1 to 2 T. whole milk or cream AND 2 t. vanilla AND a pinch of salt
For the cakes – preheat the oven to 350, butter 3, 8-inch round cake pans, line each with a circle of parchment and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cocoa and baking powder and set aside, and in a small pot, stir together the chocolate and coffee on low heat, until the mix is just melted together and smooth – remove from the heat. Since you don’t want to add a hot mix to the cake batter, do this ahead a sufficient amount of time to allow the chocolate/coffee mix to be melted but as close to room temperature as possible.
Using your electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter alone for a few minutes until it’s well creamed and soft and then beat in the sugar, then the eggs – one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed – then lastly the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, then scrape in the chocolate mix and mix well. Take the time to carefully scrape down the whole bowl, then give the batter another quick beating to make sure all is well combined.
Use a kitchen scale to divide the batter equally between the 3 prepared cake pans and then bake for about 20 minutes until the centers bounce back to a light touch and a toothpick comes out of each clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the pans before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Wrap each well until you’re ready to build the cake – I made the cakes and froze my layers a few days ahead and they came out brilliantly.
For the filling – place the butter, brown sugar, evaporated milk and egg yolks in a large pot over low heat. Whisk quickly and continuously until the eggs are fully incorporated (if they cook on their own, the whole mix will get lumpy). Once the eggs are well combined, bring the filling to a boil, turn the heat off, whisk in the salt and vanilla and then fold in the coconut and pecans. The filling is easier to work with if it’s not too warm (or too cold!) – I made it ahead, and kept it covered in the fridge before giving it time to come to room temperature when I needed to put the cake together.
For the buttercream – using your electric mixer, beat the butter alone for a couple of minutes until soft and fluffy. Add in the cocoa and icing sugar and mix on low speed until it starts to come together, than add in a tablespoon of milk, the vanilla and salt and beat until smooth. If it’s too thick, add in another tablespoon of milk – altogether, you want to beat it (after scraping down the sides) for a good 5 minutes until the buttercream has lightened in color and become very fluffy.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE!
I think this is easiest to assemble when the layers are frozen, the filling is room temperature and the buttercream is freshly made. Pick a pretty serving platter, lay down a layer (if the layers are a bit domed, give them a trim as needed), add half of the filling, pressing down and pushing it to the edges so that you have an even layer, add another cake layer, the last of the filling and the final cake layer. Smooth on the buttercream and your amazing cake is ready to go!