Chocolate Pretzel Cake


Nov 18

Chocolate Pretzel Cake – Dark chocolate cake layers baked on a pretzel crust with chocolate chip cheesecake filling and chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Pretzel Cake #cakebycourtney #chocolatecake #pretzelcake #cheesecake #chocolatebuttercream

Did You Know?

Many of you may not know that in addition to making cakes and raising my two children, I also freelance in television research. What does that mean exactly? I basically travel around the country moderating focus groups about new or existing television shows. I’ve been doing it for over 13 years now, and aside from not getting much sleep while on the road, I still really enjoy it!

Chocolate Lovers Cake

Anyway, while traveling for  a while back, I was thinking of new cake ideas, with the specific intention of coming up with something new to celebrate my wedding anniversary. Ryan and I both love my chocolate cake, so having that as the base of the cake was a no-brainer. I also wanted to do something completely new. I mean, we could eat my Chocolate Salted Caramel CakeChocolate Peanut Butter Cake, and the Tonight Show Cake over and over again, but I was in the mood for something new.

Chocolate Pretzel Cake #cakebycourtney #chocolatecake #pretzelcake #cheesecake #chocolatebuttercream

As I sat on the plane early one morning thinking about what I could do for our anniversary cake, the idea for this one just hit me like a bolt of lightening.

Chocolate Pretzel Cake

I’ve done a chocolate cake baked on a graham cracker crust and loved the crunchy texture it adds to the cake. So, to change things up a bit, I swapped out the graham crackers for pretzels and then added an adapted version of the Milk Bar Liquid Cheesecake for my chocolate chip cheesecake filling. I love this filling because it’s not as dense and rich as regular cheesecake. This cheesecake filling is creamy and smooth, and the tangy flavor pairs well with the sweet and salty combination already going on with the pretzels and chocolate. To top it all off, I used a light, silky chocolate buttercream, which you’ll find nearly impossible to not eat straight off a spoon.

Chocolate Pretzel Cake #cakebycourtney #chocolatecake #pretzelcake #cheesecake #chocolatebuttercream

Look at those layers! Make sure to take a bite with everything in it so you get the full experience of this cake.

Chocolate Pretzel Cake #cakebycourtney #chocolatecake #pretzelcake #cheesecake #chocolatebuttercream

And one quick note – make the cheesecake filling the day before and keep it refrigerated in an air-tight container so it’s ready to spread but sturdy enough to hold up the cake layers.

Piping Tutorial

Chocolate Pretzel Cake

Yield 1 3-layer, 8-inch cake

Dark chocolate cake layers baked on a pretzel crust with chocolate chip cheesecake filling and chocolate frosting.

Ingredients

For the Pretzel Crust

  • 3 cups finely blended pretzels (this is best done in a food processor or blender)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups, minus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water

For the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (adapted from Milk Bar)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, slightly cold
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 oz. good quality chocolate (I use semi-sweet or dark chocolate), chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

For the Pretzel Crust

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl combine the pretzel crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar. Stir until all the pretzel crumbs are damped by the melted butter.
  3. Divide evenly between the three pans and press down firmly with your hand or the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool while you make the chocolate cake batter.

For the Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
  3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, water and vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 15 ounces in each pan), over the cooked pretzel crusts and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
  6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

For the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 6x6-inch baking pan with plastic wrap (I know, it sounds crazy but it won't melt). Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the cream cheese on low speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the sugar and mix for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and salt until combined. In a slow and steady stream, whisk in the milk and then the egg until the mixture is homogenous.
  4. With the stand mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg mixture. Mix for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 30 seconds.
  5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firm and more set toward the rim of the baking pan but still a little loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is still jiggly all over, give it another 5 minutes and 5 more if it needs it. If it begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.
  6. Let cool to room temperature and transfer to a medium sized bowl. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the Chocolate Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for one minute. 
  2. Slowly add the melted chocolate, while the mixer is on medium-low speed. Once all the chocolate is added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer on medium-low speed again and mix for another 30 seconds.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar.
  4. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
  5. Slowly add the whipping cream and continue to beat for 2 more minutes, until light and fluffy.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, mix the frosting by hand, trying to push out any air bubbles.

Assembly

  1. Level the chocolate cakes as needed.
  2. Spread a little frosting on a cake board and place the first cake layer, pretzel side down, on the cake board. 
  3. Pipe a rim of frosting around the cake layer and fill with half of the chocolate chip cheesecake filling.
  4. Place the next cake layer, pretzel side down, on top of the filling and repeat step 2.
  5. Place the final cake layer, pretzel side down, on top of the second layer of filling and apply a thin crumb coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Continue frosting and decorating with the remaining chocolate buttercream. Best served right away or day of. If you're not serving day of, place the cake in an air-tight container and freeze it over night. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

8 thoughts on “Chocolate Pretzel Cake

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  1. Hello, recipe looks beautiful, actually looking into making it. The plastic wrap is ok to use for the cheesecake portion in the oven? Thanks

  2. The pretzels floated into the cake batter even after baking. I used three cups of pretzel crumbs. Did you mean to say theee cups of pretzels, crumbled? Please advise