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CHOCOLATE AND PISTACHIO NAKED LAYER CAKE

Yield: 8 SERVINGS

Prep time: 2 HR

Cook time: 20 MIN

Total time: 18 HR

With lovely layers of moist chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, crunchy chocolate crumble and a luxurious pistachio buttercream, this chocolate pistachio naked cake is a three-layer masterpiece!

 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE:

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour

½ cup (60g) Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

¾ cup full fat buttermilk

⅓ cup light olive oil or grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CRUMB:

⅔ cup (105g) flour

1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch

½ cup (100g) sugar

½ cup (65g) good quality Dutch-process cocoa powder

4g kosher salt (1 teaspoon)

6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

½ cup chopped pistachios, for garnish

FOR THE PISTACHIO BUTTERCREAM:

½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup (40g) powdered sugar, sifted

¾ cup (230g) pistachio paste or pistachio butter

pinch salt

¼ teaspoon pistachio extract (optional)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

3 ounces (86g) dark chocolate (60-70%), finely chopped

⅓ cup (76ml) heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

 

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350ºF (181ºC). Line the bottom of a (9-by-12-inch) quarter sheet pan with parchment; lightly butter bottom and sides.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until evenly incorporated.

In a small bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour into bowl with dry ingredients and mix until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached but no raw batter.

Place pan on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Once cooled, the cake can be tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 week.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE CRUMB:

Preheat the oven to 300ºF (150ºC).

Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whisk on low speed until well mixed.

Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. Let cool completely. The crumbs will harden further as they cool. (Make ahead: store in an airtight container for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer)

 

TO MAKE THE PISTACHIO BUTTERCREAM:

Cream butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add pistachio paste, salt and pistachio extract and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it just starts to steam and barely bubble around the edges (do not let it boil).

Pour hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds, then start gently whisking, working in concentric circles starting in the center until smooth and glossy.

Add butter, one cube at a time, gently whisking until smooth before adding the next.

 

ASSEMBLY:

Invert the cake onto a fresh piece of parchment paper; peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Use a 6-inch cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake, cutting them out from opposite corners of the rectangle, getting as close to the edges as possible. These are your top 2 cake layers.

Cut out two almost half-circles (as large as you can) from the remaining scraps of cake. These, along with any leftover scraps, will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.

Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan on top of a round of parchment paper (you can also use a 6-inch cake pan or springform pan with a removable bottom). Line the inside of the cake ring with 1 strip of acetate.

Piece together the two half circles and additional cake scraps as needed to form a flat even layer in the bottom of the cake ring, using the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together.

Use the back of a spoon to spread half of the ganache in an even layer over the cake.

Sprinkle one-third of the chocolate crumbs and a few chopped pistachios evenly over the ganache, pressing them lightly into the ganache so they stick.

 

Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the pistachio buttercream as evenly as possible over the crumbs. Spread to the edges using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.

Set a second cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat layers of ganache, crumbs, and buttercream.

Gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. (Depending on the width of your acetate, you may need to do this before adding the second layer instead).

Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate crumbs and more chopped pistachios, if desired.

Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator and chill for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. You can also cover and freeze the assembled cake for up to 2 weeks (if frozen, put it in the refrigerator to thaw the night before you want to serve it).

At least 1 hour before you want to serve the cake, place the cake on a platter or cake stand. Gently remove the cake from the cake ring and carefully peel off the acetate. Let sit at cool room temperature for about an hour before slicing and serving. The finished cake can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

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