Tender vanilla cake layers, chocolate chip ricotta filling and vanilla buttercream.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder,cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for two minutes on medium-high speed. The mixture should be light in color and texture.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg whites on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between addition. Once all the egg whites are added, continue mixing on medium-high speed for about two minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
Combine the sour cream and buttermilk. Set aside.
With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 cup of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat the additions, 1/3 cup flour mixture, 1/2 cup buttermilk and the final 1/3 cup flour mixture. Only mix until the flour mixture is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for another 20 to 30 seconds on low.
Pour about 18 ounces of cake batter into each of the three 8-inch cake pans or 13 ounces in each of the 6-inch pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Tip: spray your wire cooling racks with nonstick spray).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy and pale in color.
With the mixer on slow, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the heavy cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a couple minutes more.
Before using the buttercream, make sure to beat it by hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula to help push out the air pockets.
In a small metal bowl that’s been frozen for ten minutes, beat the cream on high speed, while gradually adding the EZ Gel, until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the drained ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and beat until well combined.
Fold in the heavy cream to the ricotta mixture.
Gently stir in the 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
Filling can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Place the first cake layer top side up, in the center of the cake board. Gently spread about 1 cup of the filling over the cake layer. Remember to get eye level with the cake to make sure you spread the filling evenly.
Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream. Evenly spread another 1 cup of the filling over the cake.
Place the final cake layer top side down on the filling.
Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. This is your crumb coat that helps to lock in your crumbs.
Once the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream.
To apply mini chocolate chips to the side of your cake, refer to the tutorial above.
*Two to three days before you plan to make your filling, place the ricotta in a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to drain as much liquid out as possible. If the ricotta hasn't drained much, spread it onto thick paper towels and then press down on the ricotta with more paper towels to soak up a little more of the liquid.