I’ve been positively itching to write about this cake for a long time, but I kept forgetting to take pictures of the whole process. (I’ve made this cake several times.) When the chance arrived yesterday to make this cake for a client’s birthday, I made sure to take photos of the process. This is such an unusual cake that I felt its creation and assembly should be documented. A fudgy brownie base is covered with a thick layer of chocolate mousse, which is topped with a dark chocolate cake layer. The whole thing is iced in chocolate ganache.
Yes, the whole thing. See?
The brownie and cake layers are baked at the same time, which is one of the reasons I find this cake so odd. (Perhaps I’m odd for thinking this odd.) Another quirk about this recipe is its love of strange measurements: many of the ingredients are measured in eighths. It helped me immensely to know that 1/8 cup = 2 TBS. I was then able to figure out that 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 TBS. Intimidating measurements are made friendly!
I don’t know how many of you have been to the Longhorn restaurant chain, but for those of you who have yet to step foot there, that chain is known for its Chocolate Stampede Cake. It consists of 6 layers of chocolate, including chocolate cake, chocolate fudge, and chocolate mousse. It’s absolutely incredible. This cake, though named for the Longhorn Chocolate Stampede Cake, takes said Longhorn cake out back and smacks it around. Then it spanks it for good measure. And then it laughs at the Longhorn cake and seduces its wife. If you want to mimic the way the Longhorn cake is served, top this cake with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and serve with vanilla ice cream. Oh, yeah, baby.
As I always do with chocolate cake recipes, I used brewed espresso in place of water, because coffee intensifies the flavour of chocolate. I also used semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in place of just unsweetened chocolate for the brownie and cake layers, because I don’t much like dark chocolate. In addition, I used a combination of milk and semisweet chocolate instead of using only semisweet chocolate for the mousse and ganache. I’ve made this cake a good half dozen times, and the first time, I followed the recipe to the letter. I’ve come to prefer the less dark version of this cake, for sure. Instructions for both dark and lighter versions of this cake are included below.
I feel it is only fair to point out that this cake takes a bit of time to make and assemble. To break it into more manageable steps, make the brownie and cake layers one day, then assemble and ice the cake the next day. If necessary, you can ice the cake a day after assembly. Do not rush this recipe, because it takes patience and concentration. Keep the finished cake in the refrigerator and – this is important! – slice with a hot, dry knife, wiping the knife clean between slices. I learned the hard way that slicing with a cold knife will lead to collapsed, messy cake slices and heartache. One additional caveat: During the cake-making portion of this recipe, in the step in which room-temperature butter is added to the batter 1 TBS at a time, I’ve never been able to get the butter to fully incorporate into the batter. It beats into little pea-sized pieces, and refuses to incorporate any further. I have no idea if this is as it should be, or if I should beat the butter more. At any rate, the cake has always turned out to be moist and flavourful, so I have quit worrying about the butter issue, though I would have appreciated some advice about it when I first made this cake.
This gorgeous cake is oh so worth all the dirty dishes. I say this as someone who doesn’t have a dishwasher.
This makes two cakes I’ve made in as many days. Wowza!
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Chocolate Stampede Cake
For the brownie layer:
1/2 cup + 2 TBS cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (I used 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate and 1 oz. semisweet chocolate)
6 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 1/8 cups (1 cup + 2 TBS) sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake layer:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate and 1 oz. semisweet chocolate)
1/8 cup (2 TBS) Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup hot brewed espresso or strong coffee, OR 1/4 cup hot water
7/8 cup (3/4 cup + 2 TBS) sugar, divided
7/8 cup (3/4 cup + 2 TBS) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 TBS unsalted butter, soft
For the chocolate mousse:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used about half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate, with a small amount of bittersweet chocolate added)
2 cups heavy whipping cream, very cold
1 TBS sugar
For the ganache:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 TBS unsalted OR salted butter
18 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used about half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate, with a small amount of bittersweet chocolate added)
For the brownie layer:
Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with a round of parchment paper and spray the sides and paper with nonstick cooking spray. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325°F. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir with a fork to mix. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. When the chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove from heat and stir or whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring or whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture until completely homogenous.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Do not bake yet. Set aside, prepare the cake batter, and bake the two layers at the same time.
For the cake layer:
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup or small bowl.
Line the bottom of a 9″ round cake pan with a round of parchment paper. Spray the pan and paper with Baker’s Joy or similar, or grease and flour the pan and parchment paper. Combine the chocolate, cocoa, and hot coffee in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring with a rubber spatula, until chocolate is melted (mixture will be dull in sheen and very thick). Add 1/4 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until glossy and thickened, 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and yolk on medium-low speed until combined. Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 – 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add softened butter one TBS at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. (Note: Beating at medium speed, butter did not disappear into batter but instead was broken into pea-sized pieces.) Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Pour into prepared pan; smooth batter to edges of pan.
Bake the brownie and cake layers at the same time: the brownie for 25 – 30 minutes and the cake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack. Allow the brownie to cool completely in the pan. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto the wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Once the brownie layer has cooled, run a knife around the edges to separate it from the pan. Remove the sides of the springform but leave the brownie layer on the springform base. Form a ring of parchment paper around the brownie layer (this is far more irritating to do than it sounds, but it is necessary for the mousse layer to stay in place) and extending up the sides of the springform pan. Re-tighten the springform pan so that the parchment collar is fitted tightly to the sides.
For the chocolate mousse:
In a medium, heat-proof bowl, melt chocolate in microwave or in a 2 – 3 quart saucepan on stove. Set aside.
Place cream and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat.
Fold in about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate to lighten it. Gently fold the chocolate / cream mixture into the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain.
For the ganache:
Place butter and chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl. Separately, heat cream until boiling. Pour the boiling cream over the butter and chocolate; let stand 2 minutes. Whisk until completely incorporated and smooth. Chill 1 cup of ganache for 1 hour. Allow the remaining ganache to come to room temperature and to thicken. (This took about 2 hours for me.)
Spread the mousse evenly over the top of the brownie base. Smooth the top. Place the cooled cake round over the mousse, pressing down lightly (pressing heavily will cause mousse to spill out from between the layers). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Remove the springform ring and parchment collar from the assembled cake. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter (a cake lifter comes in handy here), removing the springform base and parchment paper round. Gently wipe away any mousse that is squeezing out of the sides. Use a spatula to smooth the room temperature ganache over the cake top and sides, covering evenly.
Place the chilled ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a shell tip and pipe a shell border around the base of the cake. Pipe rosettes around the top of the cake to indicate servings. Serve chilled and store cake leftovers in the refrigerator. Cut the cake with a hot, dry, sharp knife.
Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats