Brown Butter Vanilla Cake with Dark Chocolate Buttercream Icing

22 May


I saw this recipe in Food and Wine (Feb ’12) and it looked good and had wonderful photos attached. It also called for whole vanilla beans (split and seeds scraped) and my gurrrrl, Beth, brought me some whole vanilla beans from her travels to Indonesia or Bali or some place “over there” like that.



Whip it…..whip it good

Vanilla seed scrapings and sugar!

I decided to make it a month or so ago, and while it’s a smidge more laborious than some other vanilla cakes, it’s totally worth it! The cake was soooooooooooooooooooo moist and delicious and buttery.

Golden cakes

(Here is the recipe for the cake part. The Dark Chocolate Buttercream frosting recipe follows.)

Brown Butter Layer Cake


  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (12 ounces), plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2  ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 2  ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 and 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and ¼ cups milk, at room temperature

1)     Preheat oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch pans (I used 8 inch) and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

2)     In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter begins to set around the edge, about 8 minutes.

3)     Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.

4)     Remove the bowl from the ice water bath and scrape up the hardened butter. Transfer the butter to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolkds followed by the whole eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary.

5)     Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, rotating the ans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a tootpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes and then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.

Now for the Chocolate Buttercream…….

Ingredients for Buttercream

Egg whites, salt, and sugar mixture

Egg whites, salt, and sugar mixture

This Rich Chocolate Buttercream tastes delicious! It’s not too dark and it’s so light and fluffy.

Melted chocolate

Beating in melted chocolate

Frosted cake!

Let me just have a piece

Rich Chocolate Buttercream


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (9 ounces), cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1) In a blender or food processor, pulse the sugar until powdery. Transfer the sugar to a medium heatproof bowl and whisk in the egg whites and salt. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, 5 minutes.

2) Transfer the warm egg-white mixture to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and beat at medium-high speed until stiff and glossy, about 8 minutes. Beat in the butter a few pieces at a time, making sure it is fully incorporated before adding more. The buttercream should be light and fluffy; if it appears runny at any time, transfer the bowl to the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then return it to the mixer and continue.

3) Beat in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and beat with a wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles. Then spread frosting on cake.

Layering the cake:

Invert one of the cakes so that it sits upside-down on a platter. Spread the filling/icing over the top of the cake in a thin layer and put the other cake right side-up on top of the cake. Put in the fridge (if necessary) to set for 5 minutes.  Finish icing the rest of the cake starting with sides first and then top. Refrigerate the cake until frosting is firm – 15 minutes.

Doesnt this look amazing?????




2 Responses to “Brown Butter Vanilla Cake with Dark Chocolate Buttercream Icing”

  1. Bethie May 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    This looks amazing!! And you know what? What I will be delivering to you from Germany, one of the items will be amazing with this!! More goodies in July! I want this now! Hahaha,

    • lmullane May 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      Wooohoooooo!!!!!!! german goodies! maybe i’ll make something like this for our weekend!

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