Favorite Recipes of Maverick Swaniel Harrienger

{August 7, 2014}   Devil’s Food Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream (New York Times)



10 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (more for greasing pans)

.67 c unsweetened cocoa (more for pans)

.75 c whole milk

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

.5 teaspoons baking powder

.5 teaspoon kosher salt (more as needed)

1.75 c granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


5 large egg whites

1 c granulated sugar

Large pinch kosher salt

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter

1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Fudge Frosting

1.5 c granulated sugar

1 c heavy cream

Pinch kosher salt

6 ounces coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate

8 tablespoons diced unsalted butter

2 teaspoon vanilla



  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 3 8″ round baking pans, line bottoms of each with parchment paper round, and grease paper.  Use little bit of cocoa powder to coat insides of pans, rotating so cocoa powder reaches up sides of pans.  Then tap out excess.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and .67 c boiling water.  Whisk in milk.  In bowl #2, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In large mixing bowl with paddle, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.  Beat in vanilla.  With mixer running on low speed, beat in .33 dry, followed by .5 cocoa mix.  Add remaining portions, alternating between 2 mixtures.  Beat until smooth.
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.  Bake 30-40 m.  Cool cakes in pans on wire rack 10 m.  Turn out onto rack to cool completely.  (Peel off parchment paper if it’s sticking to the cakes.)


  1. Fill medium pot halfway with water and bring to simmer.  In heatproof pot fitting over the pot, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt.  Cook 5 m, whisking constantly.
  2. Using electric mixer, whip 5 m.  Beat in butter, little bit at a time, until frosting is smooth and spreadable.  Beat in vanilla bean seeds and black pepper.
  3. Using serrated knife, slice each cake in half horizontally.  Place one bottom layer on large platter or cake stand.  Top evenly with layer of frosting.  Repeat, alternating between cake and cream.  End with cake layer.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate while prepping the fudge frosting.


  1. In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, heavy cream and salt.  Simmer 5 m, stirring occasionally.  Scrape into bowl.  Stir in chocolate, butter, and vanilla until smooth.  Set over larger bowl filled with ice.  Use hand mixer/immersion blender with whisk to whip 5 m.  Spread frosting over top and sides of cake.

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