Rich Dark Chocolate Tea Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

There are so many cakes and other chocolate bakes that use coffee, and I’m sure they taste great, but the fact that I don’t drink coffee should not keep me from experiencing these desserts, so I decided to take a famous cake, and experiment with using herbal tea instead, the results were incredible!  This is my take on Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) Beatty’s Chocolate Cake.  This cake has awesome reviews and it looks and sounds so good, I just had to eat it!  Instead of coffee, I steeped 2 bags of Zhena’s Gyspy chocolate chai tea and poured that into my batter hoping it would impart some cool flavor, and it DID!  If you have no hang-ups with coffee, you can use that, or even just hot water, but I loved the undertones of chai and red tea that came through with my brew! The frosting calls for instant coffee powder, so there again, I used some creative tricks and came up with a very rich and super chocolatey frosting by dissolving special dark cocoa powder instead.  I don’t know what Ina’s frosting tastes like, but mine was super rich deluxe and so so SO delicious!

For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot Chocolate Chai Tea with 2 bags (or other tea you like, or coffee)

For the Frosting:
7 ounces high quality semi-sweet chocolate (Ina recommends Callebaut, but I use Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon special dark or other dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water
2 cups (possibly a bit more) confectioners sugar

  1. Take out your butter for the frosting if you’re making the same day so it will be room temp.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and parchment line on bottom 2 8 inch cake pans.  I had only 9 inch, which worked great, I just watched for doneness and they were done at closer to 32 minutes than 40.  Always check for doneness, not bake times.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined.
  3. Get your hot tea steeping so it’s rich with flavor while you do these next steps.  In another bowl combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  With mixer still on low, add your hot tea and mix until just combined but be sure to take a spatula around the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients or you’ll get an uneven batter that’s too thin or too thick.
  4. Pour batter into your prepared pans as evenly as you can and bake around 30-40 minutes (depending on size of your pan) until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. For the frosting, chop up the chocolate and melt it either using a heat proof bowl over simmering water, or my preferred method, in a pyrex in the microwave on defrost so it never gets too hot.  Do this first and set it aside so it has time to cool because you don’t want to put hot chocolate into your butter or your frosting can get a bit sloppy.  Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and the vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.  Turn the mixer to low, gradually add half the confectioners sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.  Dissolve the dark cocoa powder into the water creating a thick paste.  On low speed, add the chocolate and the cocoa paste to the butter mixture then add the rest of the confectioners sugar adding more if needed to get a workable texture.  2 cups was about right for me, and the frosting was just beautiful to work with and so shiny and pretty.
  6. Place 1 layer cake flat side up on a flat plate or cake pedestal.  With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting then put the second layer on top, rounded side up and spread frosting evenly on the top and carefully over the sides of the cake making sure to touch your spatula only to the frosting and never to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake 

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