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Butter and flour 3 eight inch cake pans. I highly recommend using cake strips for a more even bake.
Sift together the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together.
Add the wet ingredients the dry ingredients.
Whisk to combine then mix on low for about a minute.
Distribute batter evenly to the three pans and bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350F (176C) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I recommend rotating the pans halfway through the bake.
Allow time to cool for 10 minutes then invert onto wire racks to cool fully.
In a small bowl combine the semi-sweet chocolate with 2 tbs of cream then microwave for 40 secs on half power. Stir to combine then set aside.
Whip the butter for about 2 minutes using a paddle attachment (in a stand-up mixer).
Add the ¼ cup of cocoa powder, and the salt then mix to combine.
Scrape the bowl down and beat in the confectioner’s sugar slowly.
Beat in the cream. You may add the optional vanilla and espresso at this step.
Mix until you have a nice, even consistency.
Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate ganache.
Pipe chocolate buttercream between each layer.
Pipe the buttercream on the outside of the cake. Smooth with a bench scraper and offset spatula.
Add a smooth coat of chocolate buttercream to the surface of the cake.
Use an 869 tip to pipe dollops on top.
Press cocoa nibs to the bottom of the cake (or the entire side, if desired).