Makes two 8-inch cakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts (plus more for finishing the cake)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
In another large bowl whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs and orange zest. Add this to the dry ingredients then mix well to combine. Stir in the walnuts.
Divide among the two prepared cake pans and bake for 50 - 60 minutes. Or until the middle springs back when gently pressed.
Let the cake cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely on a wire rack.
While the cakes cool prepare the frosting and mousse.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium low until creamy and well mixed, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and a pinch of salt then mix on low until combined. Increase the speed to medium then beat for an addition 5 minutes. Set aside.
Milk Chocolate Mousse
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
5 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream, cold
Bring a small pot of water to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Combine the coffee and chocolate in a medium metal bowl that can sit atop the pot of water without touching the water. Place the bowl on the pot and heat until the chocolate is melted, stirring often. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and set aside to cool until no longer warm to the touch.
While the chocolate cools, whip the cream until soft peaks.
Gently fold in about half of the whipped cream into the chocolate. When just combined fold in the remaining whipped cream. Chill until ready to assemble the cake.
Salted Maple Caramel
1 cup maple syrup
Add the maple syrup to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then reduce to 3/4 cup over low heat, about 5 - 7 minutes.
Keep a close eye on it as it can boil over. Let cool to room temperature.
To assemble the cake:
Once the cakes are completely cooled it’s time to assemble!
Using a piping bag (or if you’re fresh out as I was use a ziplock with a small cut in one corner) pipe a ridge or dam around the top edge of one of the cake layers. Fill the frosting fencing with the chocolate mousse (you may not need all the mousse, consider that the cake baker’s bonus). Top with the remaining cake layer. Then frost the entire cake.
Refrigerate until firm.
Just before serving add 1 cup or so of toasted walnuts to the top of the cake then pour the maple caramel over the top of the walnuts. Sprinkle with flake salt then serve right away.