For a Sweet New Year

Honey is THE flavor of Rosh Hashana (the beginning of the Jewish year). It’s eaten to symbolize the hope for a sweet new year. So, naturally, honey cake is often served as a dessert for the holiday. However, I never really liked it very much. More often than not, it was dry and bland, and not even really very sweet.

Several years ago, I came across a recipe for a chocolate-honey cake and decided to give it a try. It was fantastic – very moist, and with tons of flavor. I’ve made it every year since.

This year I wanted to turn the cake into a show-stopping dessert that would serve lots of people, so I doubled the recipe and baked it in 3 8-inch round pans, and filled it and covered it with a lovely honey-vanilla buttercream. The combination of the cake and the buttercream was great, and even with all that honey it was not too sweet. I can’t wait to make it again next year!

May everybody have a wonderful year, full of all things sweet!

Triple-Layer Chocolate-Honey Cake with Honey-Vanilla Buttercream

Chocolate-Honey Cake

Note: This recipe is for an 8-inch 3-layer cake. If you would like to make a single-layer cake, cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9-inch square baking pan.

6 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/3 cups honey

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 1/3 cups milk or soy milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 3 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper.

2. Place the honey and chocolate into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Cook just until chocolate is melted, stirring often. (Or place into a microwave-safe bowl, and cook in the microwave for 45-60 seconds, stirring after 20 seconds.)

3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter or margarine with the sugar on high speed until creamy. Add the vanilla, eggs, and the chocolate-honey mixture.

5. Add half the flour mixture with half the milk. Mix. Add the remaining flour mixture and remaining milk. Beat just until it’s smooth.

6. Pour into the prepared pans (if you have a kitchen scale, weigh them to make sure they have the same amounts so you have even layers). Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pans come out clean. Make sure to check each pan because they may not all be done at the same time.

7. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then run a thin metal spatula around the edges and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack until cooled.

*Adapted from Susie Fishbein (Kosher by Design: Short on Time)

Honey-Vanilla Buttercream

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons honey

1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar and flour. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool (this takes at least 7 to 9 minutes of mixing). Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and honey and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl into the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

*Adapted from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (Baked: Explorations)


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