Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows

serves 16

For the Cake

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter

13 1/2 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup canola oil

4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder

3 cups granulated sugar

2 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder

3 extra large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Frosting

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 vanilla bean; split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

2 cups granulated sugar

6 ounces (2 cups) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Vanilla Marshmallows 

(You will only need half a batch of marshmallows for the top of the cake.  You can make half the batch in an 8x8-inch pan or make the whole batch and store the leftovers for another use.  For the cake garnish, cut the marshmallows into different sizes from 1/4 to 3/4 inch square.)

Cocoa Powder for dusting

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick baking spray. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the butter, oil, chopped chocolate, and water over medium heat until melted.  Whisk in the espresso powder.

In a large bowl, whisk together 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.  Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.  Cool on the rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the racks, remove parchment and cool completely.  (Cakes can be made one day ahead wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, or freeze for up to one month).

For the Frosting

In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, butter, vanilla bean, and seeds.  Stir until the butter is melted.  Remove the vanilla bean and whisk in the chopped chocolate.  Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, syrup, espresso powder, and salt; making sure the cocoa powder is dissolved.  Strain the frosting through a fine-mesh sieve set over a 9x13-inch pan.  Freeze until firm, about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight. (Frosting can be refrigerated for up to three days)

Assemble the Cake

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

On a flat serving platter or cake stand (edges lined with strips of waxed or parchment paper to keep it clean while icing), place one cake layer.  Using an off-set spatula, spread 1 1/2 cups of frosting evenly to the edges.  Repeat with another cake layer and another 1 1/2 cups frosting.  Top with the last cake layer. Spread a thin layer (or crumb coat) of frosting over the top and sides of the cake; refrigerate until the frosting is firm enough to seal in the crumbs, about 30 minutes.  Spread the remaining frosting in a smooth layer over the entire cake.  Carefully remove the paper strips to make a clean bottom edge.

Mound the marshmallow on top of the cake and dust the top of the marshmallow with cocoa powder. Enjoy! 

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