I played soccer for about 12 years. I had a chief motivator to join the team, as well. I started because, as I explained to my parents, in my speech impediment-addled voiced, I wanted “dethewts,” which every other person would translate to mean: DESSERTS. A year younger than my brother, I would attend his games and during the post-game celebration, would slyly and gracefully slink over to the sideline, give sweet eyes to the mom handing out the Little Debbie rewards, and would, from time to time, find one in my hand, and subsequently in my belly. The key to a 100% success rate, I decided, was to don a uniform of my own and join the team.
12 years of soccer equates in my life the same way 8 years of French classes does… it doesn’t. One would assume that proficiency would be high in both areas after years of exposure, but, you would be chiefly and flat out, wrong. As a goalkeeper, my job was to defend our nets, and we practiced daily with a drill called power-finesse, in which each player struck two balls… one from a further distance – the power shot, if you will, and then would charge the net and end with a finesse touch. Both balls usually scored on me (insert own joke here), but I was a better defender of the power ball. I had no feel for finesse. Ever. To this day.
So it should have come to no surprise when I set about to bake a birthday cake for my mom that I would exhibit similar patterns – mastery of the power skills (stirring, mixing, combining, folding), and zero handle of the finesse: icing the cake. But what this lil treat lacks in beauty, it sure makes up for in personality (don’t they all?)
As I was standing in line at Trader Joe’s mentally going through my menagerie of celebratory desserts with which to honor my wonderful mother, I was struck with three flavors: chocolate. espresso. Biscoff. Together. In one cake. So I did a bit of search engineering (do we ever call it that? should we?) and tweaked and combined recipes to yield this sweet, flavor concentrated confectionary. Then I realized that whilst I was in possession of a sleeve of Biscoff cookies, I was without cookie butter, which was needed for the buttercream. So. Thanks to the power of said search engines, I was able to create my own. And delicious it was.
Chocolate Espresso Cake + Biscoff Buttercream
For the cake (adapted from this recipe):
3 oz. semisweet chocolate bar
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate bar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
2 tablespoons espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 9-inch round or square baking pans (I only had one, so I baked it all in one then sliced in half… not ideal, but it does get the job done). Melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop. Cool to room temperature. Beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla extract for 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate and beat for an additional minute. Add flour, baking soda and salt, alternating with buttermilk. Pour into pan and bake 33-38 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks. Remove from pan and cool completely.
For the buttercream:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup cookie butter (Trader Joe’s Speculoos spread, Biscoff spread or DIY cookie butter, below)
1 T. vanilla
3 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 T. unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular milk)
Combine all ingredients except milk. Mix thoroughly until combined. Gradually add milk until desired consistency.
For cookie butter (recipe found here):
1 sleeve Biscoff cookies
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 can full fat coconut milk
2 T. butter flavored Crisco, melted
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
In a food processor, blend together cookies and brown sugar until result is fine crumbs. Add coconut milk until combined. Mix in melted shortening, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Arrange first tier of cake on a cake plate, add generous layer of Biscoff buttercream (I also added some of the straight cookie butter for added depth and richness). Top with second cake layer and front generously. Decorate with full Biscoff cookies.