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With all the extra time on my hands lately because of COVID-19, a cake seemed like a great idea.
Is cake ever a bad idea? Probably not.
It happens to be my birthday week, and like many states, we’re currently under a stay-at-home order. I had planned to be in sunny Phoenix, but instead I’m in the less-sunny and slightly cooler Midwest. So, almost the same thing. 😉 All the restaurants are closed here so if I wanted a fancy dessert this week, I had to make it myself.
In all honesty, I’m an introvert so I don’t really mind being quarantined. But if I’m going to be quarantined, being quarantined with cake is definitely the way to go! 😊
I’m the first to admit cakes aren’t my strong suit. I find cupcakes to be so much easier, because getting that smooth frosting is so tricky with layer cakes! Cupcakes are more forgiving, but even with a bench scraper, I struggle to get smooth frosting on my cakes.
As you can see, I did the best I could – ha!
You totally could make this recipe into cupcakes instead, and I definitely plan to someday! You’ll use the same amount of both the batter and frosting; just use a lined muffin pan instead of cake pans and pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes using whatever method you wish. You can also fill the cupcakes with ganache before frosting them, and use potato chips for garnish in any way you like.
As always (and probably until the day I die), I use adapted versions of Georgetown Cupcake’s cake and frosting recipes from the cookbook The Cupcake Diaries because I think they’re the absolute best. If you don’t have vanilla beans, you can omit them – no problem.
I also wanted to try making a drip cake here (mainly to disguise my less-than-stellar cake decorating skills!). Of course, if you’re better at frosting smooth cakes than I am, yours will look better! But no matter your skill level, this turns out to be a pretty impressive cake.
For the ganache, you just need two ingredients:
- Chocolate chips
- Heavy cream
I used milk chocolate chips because milk chocolate-covered potato chips are my favorite. You could also use semisweet here.
I also pressed crushed potato chips along the bottom of this cake, added a few more decorative swirls of frosting on top, and finished the cake off with the stars of the show: chocolate-covered potato chips. The chips are my favorite part and you can find the recipe here!
I forgot to save extra frosting for the very top, so I did have to whip up a little extra at the end. I will fully admit that this frosting is high-maintenance because you have to melt the chocolate first, then let it cool a bit and slowly incorporate it into the frosting. You have to time it right so the chocolate neither hardens nor melts the butter in your buttercream, but it’s not too tricky – just make sure the chocolate is melted but not hot. The worst-case scenario here is that you’ll have tiny chunks of chocolate in your frosting. (You can probably spot a few in these photos!)
It’s so worth the effort, though. This is one of my all-time favorite frosting flavors!
Just give yourself plenty of time! My cakes always turn out better when I’m not in a hurry, which is why now seemed like the perfect time to make one.
You can also make this cake over the course of a few days, which is what I did. I baked, cooled and frosted the cake the first day. The next day, I made a second smaller batch of frosting, made my chocolate-covered chips, and decorated the cake. Take it at your own pace!
What are you baking and eating during all this stay-at-home time?
Don’t mind me, I’ll just be stuck at home with a fork in this cake! 😊
CHOCOLATE-COVERED POTATO CHIP CAKE Yield: 12 servings VANILLA BEAN CAKE: 2 1/2 cups flour 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 8 Tbsp butter, at room temperature 1 3/4 cups sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 2 1/4 tsp. vanilla seeds from 1 vanilla bean 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature MILK CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM: 2 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (about a bag and a half) 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature 5 cups powdered sugar 12 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature 5 tsp. vanilla MILK CHOCOLATE GANACHE: 1 cup milk chocolate chips 1/2 cup heavy cream Crushed potato chips, for garnish Chocolate-covered potato chips, for garnish INSTRUCTIONS: FOR CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, dust lightly with flour, and cover with circles of parchment paper. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla and vanilla bean seeds to milk. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat with stand mixer until well combined. Add 1/3 of the milk and mix thoroughly. Repeat with remaining ingredients, scraping bowl as needed. Divide batter among prepared pans and bake cakes for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool pans completely on a wire rack. FOR FROSTING: Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt on high for 60 seconds; stir and continue melting at 15-second increments until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Once chocolate has cooled, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, slowly mix butter with powdered sugar, gradually adding the sugar until the frosting is smooth. Add all remaining ingredients and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. The frosting will visibly lighten and become very fluffy. FOR GANACHE: Place chocolate chips in a bowl. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, heat cream for 1 minute. Pour cream over chocolate chips. Wait a few minutes until chocolate chips begin to melt, then stir ganache until smooth. Let cool about 10 minutes. Pour into a squeeze bottle (if using), or alternatively use a spoon for the ganache. TO ASSEMBLE: Carefully invert the first cake onto a cake stand or serving platter of your choice. Spread a layer of prepared frosting over the first layer and carefully top with the second cake. Spread another layer of frosting on top, then place the third cake on top. Use remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, reserving a small amount for a garnish. Use a bench scraper or offset spatula to smooth the frosting as best you can on the top and sides of the cake. Using your hands, gently press crushed potato chips along the bottom of the frosted cake, all the way around. Using a squeeze bottle or carefully using a spoon, slowly pour ganache over the side of the cake, moving all the way around. Pour remaining ganache on top of the cake and gently smooth it to cover the cake without forcing more over the edges. Pipe additional frosting on top of ganache with a star tip, if desired. Garnish with chocolate-covered potato chips.