Vanilla Bean Chocolate Cake.

Here’s the big question.

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Are you a chocolate or vanilla person?

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

I just can’t decide. Annoyingly, as usual.

Which shouldn’t come as a shock to those of you that know me, an indecisive food lover, occasionally flashing my flakey dessert options.

The thing is, like most of desserts or indulgences, it totally depends on my mood. I love chocolate AND vanilla ice cream, but has my day been wonderful or terrible? If we’re being completely honest then most of you know that I will go for the seriously trashed up version (how many desserts can I shove inside a dessert?) but chocolate or vanilla as the base? That is the question.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

I’ve always been the same way with cake, but I’d say that nine times out of ten, a fudgy chocolate version wins. For instance, if my mom was making me a birthday cake? I’d probably ask for fudgy chocolate. I might also ask for “yellow” cake with chocolate fudge frosting but let’s not split hairs here.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

It’s no secret that baking cakes – actual layer cakes – is not my cup of tea due to extreme lack of patience in the cake cooling, crumb coating and frosting departments. But I was determined to make a cake for Eddie this past week after he had been traveling, because he loves COLD refrigerated cake and frosting. Absolutely loves it.

Even if he is desperately craving a piece of cake, he has to stick it in the fridge (or maybe the freezer, if the craving is so severe) before he eats it. Cold cake is the only way to go. With his side of diet Coke, of course. Why is that a thing?!

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

Plus, even if I don’t like BAKING cakes, I like EATING cakes. It’s a win-win either way –  but there might be a tantrum or two in the middle.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

Last summer I experienced the wonderful Rodelle vanilla products in this no churn ice cream (and subsequent peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard, thank you very much) and it has been the only vanilla bean paste I’ve been using ever since. I LOVE me some vanilla bean paste. Also, this reserve vanilla is pretty much the best thing that’s stashed in my kitchen right now, and I have fight Eddie every time he tries to put it in his oatmeal. I’m like – you don’t need this liquid gold in your OATMEAL.

So, this year, I’m partnering with Rodelle to bring you some out-of-this-world chocolate and vanilla recipes over the course of 2016. I’m already hungry.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

Sidenote, this is how messy the frosted cake looks before you smooth it out. It’s actually quite simple. Stick that frosting on and then smooth it out with an offset spatula. If you have perfectionist cake frosting tendencies, yours will even end up looking thirty times better.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

Bake to my favorite vanilla beans though – can you see the little flecks in the frosting?! Eeep. That makes me ridiculously happy.

Not only is the cake inside super chocolately and laced with vanilla bean – it’s covered in three buttercream frostings. It’s slightly high maintenance, but not as bad as you may think. If I can do it, you can totally do it. TRUST ME.

We have vanilla bean frosting – a chocolate cocoa frosting – and then a richer, fudgy dark chocolate frosting. Your valentine deserves it!

Even if your valentine is yourself.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

Two frostings in the center, quick mini chocolate curls on top, lots of delicious feelings baked inside: it’s one little rich slice of love.

chocolate vanilla bean cake I howsweeteats.com

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

vanilla bean and cocoa frosting

chocolate fudge frosting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and oil together until combined, mixing on medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the milk, vanilla extract and paste. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the dry ingredients, and once they are all added, increase the speed to medium-high. Beat the cake batter for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the hot coffee into the batter and stir by hand to incorporate it - it will seem a bit thin and water, but stir and fold the batter until it is combined. Pour the cake batter evenly into both pans. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center is set. Let the cake cool almost completely (I wait about 25 minutes) before gently turning it out on parchment paper. This cake is super moist and soft, so be careful!

I like to wrap the cakes in plastic wrap once cool and refrigerate or freeze so they are easier to frost. I freeze them overnight. Then I make the frosting the next morning and go from there. To frost, remove the cakes and place a layer of the chocolate fudge frosting on one of the cakes. Top it with a big spoonful of the cocoa frosting and even it out with a spatula or spoon. Place the other cake layer on top.

For the multiple frostings on the outside, I start at the bottom and using a knife, place big scoops of the frosting onto the bottom of the cake, all around. I then do the same with the cocoa frosting. Finally, I do the same with the vanilla, place it on top and down the top edge. It looks messy! (See photo above.) Using an offset spatula or knife, start dragging it around the cake so all of the frosting smoothes out at once. I do this multiple times, using multiple spatulas (or just washing the one I have) until it looks smooth enough to my liking. It's supposed to look messy and like the colors are run together.

If desired, finish it off by topping with some chocolate curls. To do this, I simply stick a chocolate bar in the freezer for an hour or so, then use a vegetable peeler to "peel" some curls.

vanilla bean and cocoa frosting

Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed until creamy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the sugar. Beat until the sugar is incorporated and add vanilla paste and extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Beat the frosting on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy and creamy. If the frosting seems too thick, beat in the tablespoon of milk for 1 to 2 minutes until combined. Once you have your vanilla frosting, remove half of it and place in a bowl.

Add the cocoa to the remaining frosting and beat until combined, scraping down the sides.

chocolate fudge frosting

Melt the butter and chopped chocolate together in the microwave - I do 30 seconds on medium power (once or twice), stirring each time, until melted. Place the chocolate in the bowl of your electric mixer. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and the cocoa and mix on low speed. Stream in the milk and add the remaining powdered sugar, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat the frosting on medium speed until it comes together - it might take a few minutes until it is creamy and frosting-like. Beat in the vanilla, continuing to scrap down the sides and bottom of the mixer. If the frosting appears too thin, add in a bit more powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time. If it's too thick, add in a bit of milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

[cake slightly adapted from allrecipes]

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My heart is in that bite.

[this post is brought to you by Rodelle, who I’m partnering with in 2016 to make all sorts of delicious dessert! as always, I only work with products that I 100% love and use in my own kitchen. thank you for your support!]