This post is updated to include a Peanut Butter version of the original Mocha buttercream. You’ll find the variation at the end of the post.
This may be the most delicious buttercream I’ve ever made. I wish I could take all of the credit for it, but it is from Carol Bloom’s The Essential Baker. As many of you know I have been baking through the book for the past month or so. On Memorial Day I went to a party and offered to bring dessert. As you can imagine I rarely go anywhere without bringing desserts and/or bread. It is what I love to do and people rarely complain. I decided to make something chocolaty and my husband begged me to make the carrot cake again.
I made the Devil’s Food Cake from The Essential Baker, which was good, but in my humble opinion too sweet and not intensely chocolate enough for me. It does have a nice texture and my boys devoured it, as did all of the other guests at the party. But, I think in the end I’ll stick to my version of Devil’s Food. The mocha buttercream on the other hand was out of this world. Usually there are those in the crowd who don’t care for buttercream and end up scooping the cake out from under it, leaving a shell of frosting on the plate. Every plate was scraped clean and people were asking how I possibly decorated the cake with chocolate mousse.
It is made with whole eggs instead of just egg whites which gives it a lusciously smooth and creamy feel. The coffee and bittersweet chocolate are a perfect match for all of the sugar in the whipped Italian meringue that is the base. This recipe is decidedly more work than a simple Swiss meringue buttercream, but it is so worth it. I think this is my favorite recipe in the book so far. Over all I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a great cookbook and an essential addition to any bakers shelf!
Mocha Buttercream from The Essential Baker by Carol Bloom
Makes enough to cover and fill a 9-inch cake
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pound (2 cups, 4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped, melted over a double boiler and cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon water
In a small sauce pan fitted with a Candy Thermometer, bring the 1 1/4 cups sugar, water and cream of tartar to a boil over medium-high heat. If any of the sugar crystals get onto the side of the pan, be sure to wipe them down with a wet clean pastry brush. The sugar needs to cook until it hits 242° F on the thermometer. This takes several minutes. While that is boiling,
Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on medium speed until they are thick, pale in color and hold a ribbon when the beater is lifted. Once the sugar syrup has reached its temperature of 242° F,
then slowly pour it into the bowl of whipped egg yolks while the beater is going on slow. Be sure to pour it along the bowl so that the hot syrup doesn’t hit the beater and splatter! Allow the eggs and sugar mixture to beat on medium high speed until the eggs have cooled, about 8 minutes.
Add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time.
The buttercream will go through a stage that looks soupy and curdled, but continue to add all of the butter and it will come together.
The finished buttercream will be smooth and silky.
For Mocha Buttercream:
Add a tablespoon of water to the espresso powder and dissolve.
Add the melted and cooled chocolate to the buttercream.
Mix to combine and decorate your cake. The buttercream will freeze if you have any left, wrapped really well in plastic. Just allow it to come bake to room temperature and whisk it on low speed to smooth it out.
For Peanut Butter Buttercream:
Instead of using the coffee and melted chocolate, use 1 cup smooth peanut butter. It should be a commercial brand like Skippy or Jif, because they are emulsified and have the consistency that you want. Natural fresh ground peanut butter is awesome, but it is heavy and will make the buttercream too greasy and may even separate if you use too much.