This dessert is a long overdue post. A really fantastic, fun recipe that is apparently Christina Tosi’s favorite cake in the Milk Bar cookbook. Hence, you can imagine how nervous I was to make it! Like a samurai assistant forging a sword for his master (except this sword is edible). Yet it turned out to be as great as I could have imagined.
As the name entails, the base of this recipe is a chocolate chip cake yet of course as with any Milk Bar recipe there’s always a twist. This one includes a passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbs, and coffee frosting. It all comes together to create an incredibly unique cake. One that I am glad to have checked off my Milk Bar Exam list!
To me, the most exotic part of this cake was the passion fruit curd. Which was easier to say than make, primarily due to the passion fruit purée. So the search for passion fruit purée turned into a field trip to Harlem where I finally found it at the third Latin grocery store. Passion fruit purée (or technically pulp) success! If you can find it at a grocery store, stock up because purchasing it on Amazon can get pre-tty pricey.
I’ve gotten so used to making these Momofuku Milk Bar cakes so I don’t find the assembly as daunting as I used to. But it still helps to be organized and do as much prep ahead of time as possible. Pretty much everything besides the coffee frosting can be made the day before. Here’s a more step-by-step breakdown of the whole process:
The final product is quite a show piece! Truly something to make for a birthday or because it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving and you need a little Cyber Monday oomph. The flavor combination seems bizarre at first, even I was apprehensive. But I dare you to try this cake out and not like it. I found that it was even better a couple days afterwards, when all the components of the cake really get to meld together into one delicious treat!
chocolate chip layer cake
makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake; 5 to 6 inches tall; serves 6 to 8
- 1 recipe Chocolate Chip Cake
- ⅓ cup (60g) passion fruit puree
- 1 recipe Passion Fruit Curd
- ½ recipe Chocolate Crumb
- 1 recipe Coffee Frosting
- ¼ cup (40g) mini chocolate chips
(1) Put a piece of parchment or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
– layer 1, the bottom –
(2) Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a Silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
(3) Put the cake scraps inside the ring and use the back of your hand to temp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
(4) Dunk a pastry brush in the passion fruit puree and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the puree.
(5) Use the back of a spoon to spread half of the passion fruit curd in an even layer over the cake.
(6) Sprinkle half of the chocolate crumbs evenly over the passion fruit curd. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
(7) Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the coffee frosting as evenly as possible over the chocolate crumbs.
– layer 2, the middle –
(8) With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall—high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top).
– layer 3, the top –
(9) Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the mini chocolate chips.
(10) Transfer the sheet pan to the freeze and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
(11) At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).
(12) Slice the cake into wedges and serve.
Chocolate Chip Cake
makes 1 quarter sheet pan cake
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (60g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup (110g) buttermilk
- ½ cup (75g) grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon (12g) vanilla extract
- 1½ cups (185g) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
- Pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)
- ¾ cup (150g) mini chocolate chips
(1) Heat the oven to 350°F.
(2) Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
(3) On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. Don’t rush the process. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for the liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
(4) On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you’re scraping, mix for another 45 seconds.
(5) Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Give the bottom of your sheet pan a tamp on the counter tip to even out the layer. Sprinkles the chocolate chips evenly over the cake batter.
(6) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edges of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.
(7) Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
Passion Fruit Curd
makes about 360g (1½ cups)
- ½ cup (100g) passion fruit puree
- ⅓ cup (65g) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 gelatin sheet [used ½ teaspoon powdered gelatin]
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks, 170g) butter, very cold
- ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
(1) Put the passion fruit puree and sugar in a blender and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the eggs and blend on low until you have a bright-orange-yellow mixture. Transfer the contents of the blender to a medium pot or saucepan. Clean the blender canister.
(2) Bloom the gelatin.
(3) Heat the passion fruit mixture over low heat, whisking regularly. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken; keep a close eye on it. Once it boils, remove it from the stove and transfer it to the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt and blend until the mixture is thick, shiny, and super-smooth.
(4) Transfer the mixture to a heatproof container, and put in the fridge until the curd has cooled completely, at least 30 minutes. The curd can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; do not freeze.
makes about 350g (2½ cups)
- ⅔ cup (105g) flour
- 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
- 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted
(1) Heat the oven to 300°F.
(2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed.
(3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
(4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
(5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
makes about 200g (1 cup)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (40g) confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup (55g) milk
- ¾ teaspoon (1.5g) instant coffee powder
- ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt
(1) Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow.
(2) Meanwhile, make a quick coffee milk: whisk together the milk, instant coffee, and salt in a small bowl.
(3) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, gradually stream in the coffee milk. You are essentially forcing liquid into fat, so be patient. The butter mixture will clump up and separate upon contact with the coffee milk. Do not stream more coffee milk into the butter mixture until the previous addition is fully incorporated; keep the mixer on and remain patient. The result will be a wildly fluffy coffee frosting, pale brown and super-shiny. Use immediately.