Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with cooking spray, lining pans with cut-to-size parchment on bottom, and then spraying the parchment. Set aside.
In a large bowl add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and (optional) espresso powder. Whisk to combine or, using your paddle attachment on stand mixer, mix until combined.
Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture. Mix on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly add boiling water to the cake batter. Once the water is mixed in, increase to high speed and mix for 1 minute.
Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool completely.
In a medium saucepan whisk together flour and half and half. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until very thick and the consistency of pudding. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool completely. Mixture will become very thick.
In a mixing bowl, beat together 1 cup softened butter and granulated sugar until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cooled flour/milk mixture to butter/sugar mixture. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Beating the filling for a long time makes is fluffier and removes any potential graininess from the sugar. It should be the consistency of whipped cream.
Place the chocolate chips into a heat proof bowl. Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble around the edges and simmer gently.The heavy cream may be heated in the microwave as well, but I find the stove top method more reliable. If the cream boils or overheats, it could burn the chocolate, which causes the mixture to separate.
Slowly add the hot cream to the chocolate chip bowl. Let the cream sit for 2-3 minutes so the chocolate softens. Stir until completely smooth. Stir in salt, if making salted chocolate ganache.
At this point the mixture will be runny, so it needs time to cool and thicken. Let the ganache sit for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, before pouring over the assembled cake.
Place the bottom layer cake, top down, on a cake platter or serving plate. Tuck strips of parchment or wax paper under the cake edges to "catch" drips and excess ganache.
Top the bottom layer with all the cream filling. Use an offset spatula to smooth to edges.
Place second cake layer, top down, onto filling. Press down gently so the filling pushes all the way to edge. Use an offset spatula to smooth sides.
Refrigerate cake for at least 30 minutes while ganache is prepared and cooled.
For a perfectly smooth frosting finish, pour a thin layer of ganache on top of the cake, reserving at least half. Smooth the ganache over the top and down the sides. Use offset spatula to pull the ganache around the cake sides. It doesn't matter if the cake isn't completely covered at this point.
Refrigerate the cake for 5 minutes for the ganache to harden and solidify. Repeat process with another layer of ganache, making sure top and sides are covered completely.
If desired, sprinkle additional sea salt or fleur de sel on top of cake. Gently remove wax paper strips. Refrigerate for 10 minutes for ganache to set completely before cutting and serving.
If not serving within 6 hours, refrigerate cake. However, the filling will solidify upon refrigeration and loses its light, fluffy texture.For maximum tastiness, remember to set the cake out at least 5-6 hours to come to room temperature before serving!
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Important Tips for Making Layered Ding Dong Cake
Line bottom of cake pans with parchment so layers release easily.
Assemble the cake layers with filling and refrigerate to set. During this time prepare and cool ganache.
Placing the cake layers top down makes the cake layers even and smooth on top.
Allow time for ganache to cool and thicken for 20-30 minutes before pouring over cake.
To make "salted" chocolate ganache add 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or fleur de sel to the hot mixture and stir.
For a perfectly smooth frosting finish pour ganache on in two layers, refrigerating for 5 minutes in between.
If the ganache becomes too thick between frosting layers, heat on very low heat until pourable again.
Does Ding Dong Cake Have to Be Refrigerated?
Since the filling has butter in it, ding dong cake should be refrigerated if you aren't planning on serving it within 6 hours. The cake does not need to be covered (unless you have a cake dome). Just pop the whole cake in the refrigerator. However, this is very important to remember! The filling will solidify upon refrigeration and lose its light, fluffy, and heavenly texture.For maximum tastiness, remember to set the cake out at least 5-6 hours to come to room temperature before serving!
Ding Dong Cake with Cake Mix
Simplify ding dong cake recipe by using a cake mix instead. Use your preferred store bought chocolate cake mix or devil's food layer cake.Mix together the cake mix according to the package directions. Pour into two 9 inch prepared pans that are greased and lined with parchment paper cut to size on the bottom.Bake according the time and temperature listed for layer cake. Once a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Turn cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling. Chocolate Cake adapted from Add a Pinch