April 15, 2015
This recipe combines a moist, rich layer cake with a tangy chocolate cheesecake to make a super fancy, super delicious holiday masterpiece.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch springform pans (I use Wilton’s Cake Release) and also place a greased parchment round in the bottom of each. Mix cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl until well blended and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each, and continue mixing until combined. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until combined. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake these for 35-45 minutes or until center of cake is almost set (the cake will puff up and brown on top, but don’t worry. You’re looking for a slight wiggle in the center, but not so much that it seems like the batter is liquid inside). Let the cheesecake cool. When almost completely cool, place it in refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours.
While your cheesecakes are baking, you can mix up your cakes to stick in the oven, too. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans (I use Wilton’s Cake Release) and also place a greased parchment round in the bottom of each. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. While whisking or beating on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. While still whisking or beating on low, add the coffee and stir until just combined. Give it a last turn with a spatula to make sure all the ingredients are combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper, cooling completely, and then wrapping and freezing them until your cheesecakes are done chilling (I freeze cake layers to make them easier to handle when I frost them, but you then need to make sure you frost early enough for them to thaw before serving.)
Make frosting and assemble: In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and warm water. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the melted chocolate and the cocoa mixture (I kind of alternate adding a bit of each as I stir; otherwise, the frosting will harden instead of staying smooth and awesome. It still tastes good, but it’s a little sad). Let this sit for exactly 30 minutes before you use it.
Assemble the cake by placing a layer of chocolate cake on a pedestal with its flat side up and topping with frosting. Place a cheesecake layer on and top it with frosting. Continue with the last layer of cake and cheesecake. Frost the top and sides with a thick, even layer of frosting. Top with a melted chocolate drizzle if desired.