Presenting the Churro Cake
This is serious business. Leslie and Courtney, the ladies behind the epic popup restaurant, Large Marge, are Momofuku Milk alums, so they do NOT play when it comes to cake. Also, after I harassed them for months, they’ve generously agreed to share their cake recipe with all of us. Leslie came on my YouTube channel, so if you want to see the whole process, check out the video there.
Here’s the thing: this is a pastry chef style cake, meaning, there are components and details that a home baker wouldn’t usually bother with. So if you want to do this fast and dirty, skip the churro crunchies and maybe even the decorative churros on top…but it just adds another dimension to the whole thing, so if you can, do it for real. MAKE A CHURRO CAKE.
Another tip Leslie told me was that this cake is perfect to prep ahead of time. So if you want serve this cake on Saturday, you could easily start your prep on Wednesday so all you have to do is assemble it the day of. The Pralinella and frosting last for a few days in the fridge, the cinnamon sugar lasts forever, and even the churros and cake can be frozen (though the churros benefit from a quick resuscitation in the oven).
This cake is truly magical. It makes people happy, it captures the imagination, and it tastes amazing. Thank you so much, Large Marge ladies, for bringing it into our world. Enjoy!
What you'll need to put it together (recipes below)
- Three 6” Cinnamon Brown Butter Cakes
- 1/2 Pint Pralinella
- Mexican Chocolate Frosting
- Churro Snaps
Lightly coat every layer of brown butter cake with the cinnamon sugar. Place the bottom layer on a plate, and spread a generous layer pralinella (about 1/2 inch thick) over it. Sprinkle with half of the churro crunches, and lightly press the crunches down into the pralinella.
Next, spread a thick layer of the Mexican Chocolate frosting over the crunchies, and add another layer of cake. Repeat until you’re left with the top layer. Top with Mexican chocolate frosting and freshly fried churro toppers. Enjoy!
Ingredients (Cinnamon Brown Butter Cake)
Note: Yields three 6” cake
- 1/2 cup brown butter, room temp
Note: Leslie re-hardens the melted brown butter in the fridge, then whips it for the recipe
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 2 yolks
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup milk
Grease and line three 6” cake pans and preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and whisk them all together. Set the bowl aside.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the brown butter, sugar and brown sugar until they are light and fluffy. Slowly stream in the eggs, yolks, oil and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until the wet ingredients have fully emulsified, stopping to scrape down sides from time to time.
Add the milk and dry ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, scraping down sides between each addition. Mix on low until the final dry ingredient addition is fully incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the three 6” cake pans and bake them at 350F for 20-25 mins or until they just start to get golden brown around the edges.
Remove the cakes from their pans and let them cool completely before them using to assemble the CHURRO CAAAAAAAAKE. Alternately — store the cakes in the freezer, well wrapped for up to a month until ready to use.
- 2 cups pecans
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Ingredients (White Chocolate)
- 1 1/2 cups valrhona white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1 ¼ teapsoon white (shiro) miso
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 300F. Throw the first 4 ingredients into a medium-sized bowl, and toss thoroughly.
Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes. Halfway through the baking process, pull out the sheet and stir everything around. You’re looking for the nuts to turn dark without being burnt. The darker the nut, the better the flavor: mahogany is the color you want.
Remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes, then grind them in a food processor until they break down into butter – this takes several minutes.
You should have about 1 cup of Praline butter. Put this amount in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Directions (White Chocolate)
Combine 1 cup of white chocolate with the rest of the ingredients—except the heavy cream—in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula.
Once the chocolate melts, turn the heat up to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, to caramelize the white chocolate. Once the mixture becomes a shade darker than shiro miso, remove it from the heat and slowly whisk in the heavy cream and unmelted white chocolate. If it seizes or doesn’t fully homogenize, then put it back on the stove top and heat it on low, whisking constantly.
While the chocolate mixture is still warm, marry it with the pecan butter and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.
Ingredients (Mexican Chocolate Frosting)
- 6 ounces european style butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted, then cooled
- 2 1/2 ounces white chocolate, melted, then cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on high speed until it’s light, fluffy and totally smooth with no lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during this process and quadruple check there aren’t any lumps of butter before you move on to the next step.
Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time and mix on low until combined and all the powdered sugar is incorporated into the frosting.
Add the vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix until combined. Scrape down sides and give the frosting another go-round in the mixer on medium speed.
Stream in both of the melted chocolates with the mixer on low and continue mixing until they are both fully combined and no streaks remain.
Use the frosting immediately to assemble the churro cake, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week (or one month in the freezer). If storing, return the frosting to room temp and loosen it in the stand mixer before using.
Ingredients (Churro Snaps)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 ounces european style butter (1/2 stick)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 4 cups canola oil
Mix the first cinnamon and sugar measurement together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Add the milk, butter, sugar and salt to a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat.
Dump the flour into the milk and stir it vigorously without stopping with a sturdy wooden spoon for one minute to cook the flour. The batter will be really thick and you’ll use some muscles stirring it.
Transfer the mixture to stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and let it cool for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer on medium speed and add the eggs one at a time. Let each egg fully incorporate before adding the next one.
Meanwhile, pour four cups of oil into a 1.5 quart saucepan and heat it to 350F
Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a star-tip (we like using a medium closed tip) and pipe the batter into the oil, cutting it with scissors every 2 inches so perfect churros drop into the oil. Fry all of the batter 6 at a time until they are deep golden brown.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the churros from the oil and put them onto a paper towel-lined pan. Let them cool for a minute, then toss them into the bowl with the cinnamon sugar and coat them.
You are going to use some of these churros to decorate the finished cake and the rest to make the churro crunchies that go inside the cake. To do this, take some of the churros and break them up in to pieces about the size of grapes. You will need 2 cups-worth of broken up churro bits.
Set the remaining churros aside to decorate the cake.
In a medium bowl, toss the broken up churros with ⅓ cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture, reserving the leftover mixture to coat the sides of the assembled cake.
Spread the churro bits onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, until they are crunchy, deep golden brown and caramelized.
Let the snaps cool completely before using them to assemble the churro cake.
For more from food enthusiast and cookbook author Claire Thomas go to The Kitchy Kitchen.