Kahlua Kicker Cake Layers:
This is a slightly-modified/simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!!
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
½ c Irish Cream coffee creamer
2 T instant espresso powder (make sure you use powder and not granules – large granules might not dissolve)
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
Kicker Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
¼ c Irish Cream Coffee Creamer
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with creamer until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add salt and beat until well combined.
This step is optional, but I wanted a little bit more kick in between the cake layers, so I took about ¾ c of frosting from the mixer bowl and stirred in ¼ c of instant espresso powder – make sure you use a fine powder that will dissolve into the frosting and note large granules. Unless you *want* them to crunch in your cake. I guess I added chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans to mine so….do what you want!
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8 or 10” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
- 1 c chocolate-covered espresso beans (I chopped about ¾ c of mine and used the rest to decorate the top of the cake)
- 10-15 red and yellow candy melts (Optional; I added some chopped candy melts to give a bit more color to the inside of the cake)
- 1 empty Dutch Bros coffee cup – I used a medium-size cup – and a lid and straw if you’d like
- Large piping bag & tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others!
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. These cake layers bake fairly flat though, so I don’t think I bothered to level them for this cake. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Pipe a circle of frosting around the outer edge, and spread the coffee filling in the center, being careful to keep the filling from spreading over the top of the frosting rim.
Sprinkle a few chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans /candy melts over the filling, and add your next cake layer on top. Repeat the process with the next layer(s) and add your last cake layer on top. I put mine on upside-down to make shaping the frosting on top of the cake easier.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the *freezer* to set the frosting. Usually the fridge is sufficient, but I prefer a frozen cake to set my drips.
White Chocolate Ganache (for drip)
1/2 cup heavy cream (77 grams)
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (175 grams)
1 squirt each red, yellow, blue, and brown gel food coloring (I used Americolor gel color - this set has all the above colors plus several more)
For the coffee drip:
- extra 1/2 Tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 Tablespoon instant espresso granules
Okay! Now that all the pieces are ready, it’s time to decorate your cake! My cake was pretty well set after about 20 minutes in the freezer, which was what I wanted to make sure that the drips would set and the coffee cup would stay put. ALSO –make sure your ganache is in the 90-95 degree range – it should be liquid and just slightly above room temperature. Too cold and they won’t make the drips, too warm and they might melt your frosting!
Mark eight sections on the top of your cake – I used a large knife; you can use whatever’s large and straight and close-by. With the red, yellow, and blue ganache in turn, pipe a border of ganache around the top of the two of the sections and fill it in, allowing some ganache to drip down the side of the cake. Leave two sections (next to each other) empty. Just behind those empty sections, press the coffee cup upside down into the top of the cake at an angle, leaving a bit of room to drizzle the brown ganache underneath. Drizzle brown ganache under the rim of the cup with a small container or spoon, allowing it to run away from the cup and drizzle down the side of the cake. It should set fairly quickly if your cake is frozen.
I decorated around the top of the cake around the cup with swirls of frosting to resemble whipped cream, and just left the cake base alone this time. I’ve added leftover filling, more frosting, and more chocolate-covered espresso beans to the base of the cake before though. Your option!
Refrigerate until ready to eat - and enjoy!