Gooey Milk Chocolate, Coffee and Toffee Butter Cake

Anyone that grew up in Philadelphia will remember this butter cake. This recipe reminds me of being 8 years old. My mom would take me to a German bakery on the complete opposite side of town for this gooey Philadelphia German butter cake. We'd have to take a number and wait our turn to sample heaven. The woman at the bakery was very generous with the sticky, moist and delicious little square samples of cake. I'll never forget just how happy it made me feel. My version is amped up by combining coffee, toffee and cherries. It still reminds me of being that kid again.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 4 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 3 hr 30 min
  • Cook: 35 min
  • Yield: One 9- by 13-inch cake; serves 12 - 16
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For the brioche:

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 ounce dry active yeast (4 envelopes)

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

For the topping:

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (this is a must)

2 cups superfine sugar

2 teaspoons finely ground espresso beans

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1/4 cup half-and-half, at room temperature

1/2 cup toffee pieces

1/2 cup dried cherries


  1. Make the brioche: In a heatproof bowl, combine the eggs with 1/4 cup water and whisk together. Set the bowl over a small pot of simmering water and whisk the eggs until they reach 110 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat, sprinkle the yeast over the warm eggs, and whisk well. Set aside until the yeast is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Sift together the bread flour, sugar, and salt. Place in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Pour in the egg/yeast mixture. Increase to medium speed and mix for 5 minutes. The dough will be a bit heavy; don't worry! Add the butter on low speed, piece by piece. When all the butter is in the bowl, increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 to 5 minutes. The dough will be very soft. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic, and set in a warm area for 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, punch down the dough and set a timer for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total of 2 hours, punching down the dough 4 times. Make the topping before the final punch.
  2. Make the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and espresso on high speed until light, about 3 minutes. Sift together the flour, salt, and cinnamon and add this to the bowl. Mix for 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla bean paste. Mix well for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and mix just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Punch down the dough for the final time. Press it into a well-buttered 9- by13-inch baking pan, pressing the dough about 1 inch up the sides of the pan. With the tines of a fork, poke the dough all over. Evenly distribute the toffee and cherries over the dough. Dump the topping over the toffee and cherries and spread it evenly. Let proof in a warm spot for 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (or for a convection oven, 350 degrees F). Bake the cake for 30 minutes. The topping will be light brown and crusty. Do not over bake. The cake must rest for 1 hour; the topping needs to set up while it cools. This cake is best served the same day, or the next morning for breakfast.