Chocolate Vanilla Amaretto Layer Cake

Since I've been cooking but not clicking a lot these days, my blog activities have evidently taken a backseat. The no-clicking spree is precipitated by my defunct laptop which ensures that it does not cooperate with me in things like transferring and editing pictures, writing a blog post yada yada yada. So time and again I find myself scrolling through my draft, checking whether I have anything worthy of a post. This time I bumped into this Chocolate Vanilla Amaretto Layer Cake. This one I had made back in July, on Teesta's (my maternal grandmother) 83rd birthday (you can read about her and check last year's birthday cake here). I stayed up an entire night making these three layers and the ganache, knowing fully well she wouldn't be able to even touch a morsel of it. But birthdays are celebration time, and nothing screams celebration as loud and clear as a cake does, the more towering the better! Personally, I find it pretty daunting (read: time consuming) to go past 3 layers and that is where I call it quits. For this one, I chose to alternate flavours of chocolate and vanilla and infuse them with a generous dose of amaretto (almond liqueur). A richly amaretto-flavoured chocolate ganache did a brilliant job in binding the layers together and the chocolate shavings on top added a welcome crunch to the smooth texture of the cake. This cake, let me warn you, is so heavy that it can suffice as a meal in itself! So if you plan to have it as dessert, go easy on the main courses and save some of your appetite for the last.

Serves: 12

For the 2 chocolate cakes:
Caster Sugar: 1.75 cups
Flour: 1.75 cups
Baking powder: 3 tsp
Baking soda: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Cocoa: 3/4th cup
Eggs: 4
Buttermilk: 1 cup (if you don't have buttermilk take 1 cup milk, add 1.5 tsp of vinegar and let it stand for 5-7 minutes. That will be your buttermilk substitute.)
Olive/Vegetable oil: 1/2 cup
Amaretto/ almond essence: 1.5 tbsp (if you don't have amaretto you can use 2 tsp of vanilla essence in its place)
Water, boiling: 3/4 cup

For the vanilla cake:
Flour: 1.25 cup
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Eggs: 3
Baking powder: 1.5 tsp
Baking soda: 1.2 tsp
Olive/Vegetable oil: 50 ml
Amaretto/almond essence: 1.5 tbsp (if you don't have amaretto you can use 2 tsp of vanilla essence in its place)
Buttermilk: 1/2 cup
Salt: a pinch

For the ganache:
Heavy dairy cream: 250 ml
Dark chocolate, roughly chopped: 350 gm
Amaretto: 2 tbsp (optional, substitute vanilla essence instead)

Dark chocolate shavings, for garnish
White chocolate shavings, for garnish


For the chocolate cakes:
1. Heat oven to 180º C. Line two round spring form cake pans with parchment paper and butter the sides. Set aside.

2. In large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and soda and stir together with sugar, cocoa, and salt. You can also tip everything in the bowl of a blender and give a brief whiz.

3. Add the eggs — one at a time — and then the buttermilk, oil and amaretto one by one. Keep blending after each addition. Now take the mixture out into a big bowl and gently add the boiling water, stirring continuously. Mix until well combined.

4. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted at the centre comes out clean. In some cases it might take a tad longer than 35 minutes, so check well before you take your cake out of the oven and bake for 2-3 minutes more if required.

5. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes or so before unmoulding. Let cool completely before you layer and frost your cakes.

For the vanilla cake:
1. Preheat oven to 180º Celsius and line a round cake tin with baking parchment. Butter the base and sides thoroughly.

2. In a bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder and soda and set aside.

3 In a mixer or with hand blender, blend sugar and oil until pale. Add eggs one by one and amaretto and continue mixing till smooth.

4. Put away the blender and add flour gradually folding it into the batter a little bit at a time until just combined. Add the milk bit by bit to loosen the consistency. It should be of ribbon-like consistency - not too tight and thick neither very liquidy.

5. Pour the batter inside the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes till a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to rest on wire rack for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding it.

For the dark chocolate ganache: 
1. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate pieces to it. Let it stand for a minute and then whisk till the mixture is smooth. Add amaretto and whisk again. Let it cool for sometime and keep stirring frequently while you're waiting for that.

For assembly:
1. Take the lesser attractive chocolate cake as the base cake, lather a decent amount of ganache on it and spread well. Place the vanilla cake on top of it. Spread some ganache on it as well like with the first cake. Now place the third cake (which is the second chocolate cake) on the vanilla cake. Your layering is complete. Now, with the remaining ganache, cover the surface of the cake on top and work your way through the sides. Use a rubber/silicon spatula for this. The cake should be frosted generously with the ganache both at the top and the sides. You can keep your frosting a bit rugged and messy, or make it smooth and silky like a pro!

2. Pile on the dark and white chocolate shavings at the centre of the cake.

3. Cut it into thin (yes, thin!) triangles and serve. Trust me, you need to work up an appetite before you have this (and run straight to the gym after!)
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  1. Hi Pritha,

    I cook whenever I get time off from work, and desserts are a favourite. I must say this recipe was amazing. Something out of this world. So grateful you share them all here. Just a couple of quick queries:

    1. Where in Calcutta can I buy buttermilk?
    2. Where can I buy Amaretto liquer? And Amaretti biscuits?

    Please do keep up the good work.




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