Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cake – fudgy chocolate cake lightly spiced with cinnamon paired with crunchy toffee bits and silky smooth chocolate buttercream frosting. A new layer cake recipe by our contributor, Tessa Huff.
Winter always sneaks up on me. On the lucky days where the sun in shining bright, I tend to forget just how crisp and cold the outside air is here in Canada. We’ve lived up here for five years now, and with Thanksgiving in October, I feel like the holiday season gets extended… and I love it.
Before we dive straight into peppermint and eggnog everything, I wanted to create this subtly spiced, decadent cake. I’ve been craving cozy and the combination of chocolate, cinnamon, and toffee crunch in this recipe is like a giant hug – like cuddle under your thickest quilt with a warm hot chocolate kind of comfort. The piped knit details bring it all together.
The chocolate buttermilk cake doesn’t have a lot of rise but is so fudgy and moist. My new favorite. I love the crunchy element in the form of toffee that interrupts the smooth, silky chocolate buttercream. Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream is underrated – every time I use it, I questions why I don’t smoother it on everything I bake. A bit of cinnamon sneaks into the different elements to add a bit of spice in each bite.
TIPS FOR PIPING SUCCESS:
DO: Have fun and get creative!
DON’T: Drink a ton of coffee ahead of time
DO: Score lines with the edge of your offset spatula for straighter piping
DON’T: Stress too much if it’s not perfect
DO: Kneel or sit down so that you are eye level with the cake while piping
DO: Practice with different piping tips and patterns on a piece of parchment before piping on the cake
Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cake
Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cake – fudgy chocolate cake lightly spiced with cinnamon paired with crunchy toffee bits and silky smooth chocolate buttercream frosting.
- Yield: One 8" Round Cake (3 layers)
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: Cake
For the Chocolate Cake:
- 1 ½ cup coffee (or water)
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Milk Chocolate Buttercream:
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled
For the Toffee Crunch:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Cinnamon Simple Syrup:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
Make the Chocolate Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round pans and set aside.
- Place the coffee, butter, and cocoa in a saucepan and melt over medium-low heat. Stir to combine and remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, stir together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the cocoa mixture and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Evenly distribute the cake batter into the prepared pans. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
Make the Milk Chocolate Buttercream:
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Gently whisk until combined.
- Place mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160F degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl back to the stand mixer.
- Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg mixture on high for 8 to 10 minutes until stiff, glossy peaks and the outside of the mixing bowl returns to room temperature.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, slowly add the butter (a couple tablespoons at a time) and mix until incorporated.
- Add vanilla. Whip on medium until silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add in the melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
Make the Toffee Crunch:
- Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment or a silicone mat and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil. Whisking constantly, continue to cook until golden (about 5 minutes).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt. Immediately pour the toffee mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and quickly spread into a think layer with an offset spatula before the toffee sets. Allow to cool and break into tiny pieces before using.
Make the Cinnamon Simple Syrup:
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce the heat down to a simmer and add in the cinnamon stick. Simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain out the cinnamon stick before using.
Assemble the Cake:
- Brush the cake layers with warm cinnamon syrup (gently reheat in the microwave, if needed).
- Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Dollop on ¾ cup of buttercream and spread with an offset spatula. Sprinkle on a generous amount of toffee bits (about 1/3 cup) and gently press into the buttercream. Add a small amount of buttercream on top (about ¼ cup) and spread to secure the toffee bits. Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat.
- Smoothly frost and decorate with the remaining frosting. Use star and round piping tips to create different patterns to mimic knit on the sides of the cake.
Tips for Piping Success:
- DO: Have fun and get creative!
- DON’T: Drink a ton of coffee ahead of time
- DO: Score lines with the edge of your offset spatula for straighter piping
- DON’T: Stress too much if it’s not perfect
- DO: Kneel or sit down so that you are eye level with the cake while piping
- DO: Practice with different piping tips and patterns on a piece of parchment before piping on the cake
What a beautiful cake!
Is there a reliable conversion chart to metric that you recommend? I bought some cups for American-style baking but each set holds different volumes. Weighing scales tend to be more reliable.
I too would like to know this!I have tried to use conversion charts before but some of the measurements are just not quite right. We don’t use cups at all in England – either ounces or grams.
I would love to make this as it sounds so yummy but don’t want to risk another ruined effort due to incorrect measurements. One cup of something can vary hugely when compared to sighing on a scale, which is much more accurate.
Thanks and for the fantastic recipes!
Heather Smoke says
Beautiful! I just love the cable knit piping!
Love all your recipes, will definitely try this one too! What piping tips do you use for the different designs?
Just gorgeous! Love the piping. I’m going to try to replicate for a birthday party next weekend. Look for your hashtag on my instagram @tortamore
Jean Greenfield says
What type (cocoa content/brand) of chocolate did you use in the buttercream?
Just sitting here, 36 weeks pregnant, absolutely *drooling* over this gorgeous and no doubt spectacularly delicious cake! When I no longer have the energy level of a sloth, this is going to be the first thing I bake! The toffee-chocolate combo and I go way back and I need some asap!
sorina petre says
G O R G E O U S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So delicate and I must confess – I like coffee 🙂
thank you a lot for sharing this recipe; when I will try, I will send a photo
I have a few questions about some of the ingredients.
1. Why use granulated sugar instead of powdered in the buttercream frosting?
2. Why use granulated sugar instead of brown sugar for the toffee?
3. Why not put any cinnamon in the cake batter itself?
4. If not planning to do any piping, is it okay to leave the egg whites out of the frosting? I assume they are for stiffness and volume
Carrie Sellman says
Hi Elaine – this recipe makes a Swiss meringue buttercream. This style of buttercream uses regular, granulated sugar (not powdered sugar). You start by making a meringue (egg whites and regular sugar whipped together until fluffy) and then blend in the butter to create creamy emulsion. So you will need to use both granulated sugar and the egg whites. Hope that clears things up for you! Oh, and there is cinnamon in the cake batter itself. 😉
Enjoy and happy holidays!
Denise Phillips says
Does this cake need to be refrigerated?
Carrie Sellman says
Yes, store in the refrigerator but serve at room temperature. Enjoy!
Well gee, Tessa should really teach everybody to just weigh the ingredients. It makes for a perfect cake every time. WHY NOT JUST GIVE THE AMOUNTS BY WEIGHT?????
Getting ready to make this in a day or two. What type of chocolate did you use in the buttercream?
Any idea why my cakes turned out like little domes? They didn’t really rise on the sides just in the middle and are pretty thin. Help! lol
Erin K says
This happens because the outside edges of the cake bake before they can rise; the middle takes more time so it can rise before it sets. You can get more-even layers by moving the heat away from the outside of the pan – and a neat contraption has already been made for this! You can buy these baking strips at Joann Fabrics (or anywhere Wilton is sold). Soak them in water, wrap tightly, and watch thermodynamics work! ~*SCIENCE*~
I am in love with this cake! Looks too pretty to eat!