I am a BIG fan of DESSERT. A GINORMOUS FAN, YOU GUYS. More specifically… desserts made of CHOCOLATE. And I rarely deviate from this preference. However, I would make a daily exception for this cake. Because: COFFEE. BUTTERCREAM.

I made this cake for a friend’s 40th birthday party a few weeks ago. They asked for a plain vanilla cake with vanilla frosting but I ignored them and made this one instead. It was a calculated risk, but it paid off in spades.

The cake layers are ridiculously not dry, damp, dewy, humid, irriguous, rainy… {anything but THAT M WORD that no one wants me to use}. Nutty browned butter just adds that special something that drop kicks this cake right over the top. Trust me.

The icing is this perfect blend of butter, powdered sugar and strong coffee and I could not ask for a more perfect ANYthing. 

First let’s talk about brown butter. No, it’s not a specialty butter that you have to buy at a fancy market. It’s super simple to make (although maybe a tad bit messy if you don’t take the proper precautions) and really really versatile. It makes this cake over-the-top yummy but is also SO good in cookies {BLESS}, poured over pancakes {HELP} or poured over ravioli or gnocchi {I’M SO SORRY}.

Brown butter is simply butter that is heated until the milk solids begin to brown. There are methods floating around on the web using the microwave that are supposedly faster + easier but I found it to be really messy as the butter pops wildly while being heated in that manner. Even when you heat it with a weighted lid in place, that butter will find a way out and you will spend more time than you would like (and probably a few cuss words) trying to clean out your microwave afterwards. So let’s just NOT, ok?

What you need to do is take a stick of unsalted butter and place it in a cold saucepan. Put it over medium heat and allow the butter to melt and start to cook, swirling the pan around every minute or so. The butter will foam up and then settle back down. When the butter turns a golden brown color, it’s done… don’t allow it to burn or it will taste burned. DUH. When it has reached the desired color, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before using in the cake. {I let mine teeter right on the edge of brown and burned… because I like to tempt fate and dishes pushed to the edge ALWAYS taste better}

Here are all the nitty gritty details:

THIS CAKE! I love it so much. SO MUCH. I do hope you’ll make it soon.

All photos: Matthew Ray