Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Book Giveaway!

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

Hello, my friends!

So there’s a series of words I never imagined using in the same sentence: chocolate, beet, cake, meringue, and Barbie! But yes. Oh yes. Now it just seems perfectly natural–necessary even–to combine them all.

As a child of the 70s, I’m no stranger to doll cakes, but I have never had the joy of making one, particularly one of this magnitude. That was until I came across the recipe in a new baking book I absolutely adore: Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman. What a visual delight! I’ve always been a meringue enthusiast, but I have to say that these girls have taken meringues, and all things meringue, to an entirely new level.

Meringue Girls Cookbook

So if the cover doesn’t have you giddy, the recipes and images throughout the book are sure to. And while the cover of a cookbook can sometimes be a little misleading, in this case the entire book lives up to the awesome package: it’s filled to the brim with unique, vibrant, and easy to follow meringue recipes and useful techniques for foolproof meringue (we’ve all had our fair share of meringue mishaps, no?). As you probably know, I’m a meringue enthusiast, but even for those of you who haven’t ventured too far down meringue lane, I have a feeling this book will inspire you more than you might expect.

The “Meringue Girls” take us through the basics first–making the perfect batch of meringue every time, countless flavouring ideas (think Hot Cross Bun, Manuka Honey, Lavender, and more), and super-awesome colouring techniques, like “striping,” as I did here with the Barbie Cake meringue “kisses,” as they call them. They then delight us through different chapters of unexpected and irresistible meringue recipes, such as the cutest rainbow cake in the universe–the Meringue Rainbow Cake, the decadent Ferrero Rocher Meringue Tower, the unbelievably tempting Honeycomb, Chocolate, Salted Peanut Meringues (um, hello!), and so much more. Can you tell I’m totally smitten with this book?

Meringue via Sweetapolita

So I went for it. I embarked upon the intriguing Chocolate and Beet Barbie Cake. I mean, how could I not? The colours, the quirkiness, the nostalgia, oh my! Sure, it did seem like a bit of an undertaking but, well, I’ve been known to frolic with such recipes before, right? And I love a challenge. But in the end, it was more joy than challenge. I had so much fun creating this cake–for obvious reasons–but I think the best part about it was that it was like nothing I’ve ever done, or seen, before. I love that. I had to give it a whirl! (And as a mom of two little girly cakelets, I’d never be forgiven if I didn’t choose this recipe to start.)

Meringues via Sweetapolita

So this Barbie and meringue extravaganza is essentially two layers of a very rich chocolate and beet cake–one baked in a regular flat round cake pan, and the other “layer” baked in a rounded bowl (you could also use a contour cake pan if you have it), and then filled and frosted with a luscious whipped cream and cream cheese icing, and then decorated with a rainbow of stripy meringue kisses that literally melt in your mouth–one of the reasons I can’t get enough baked meringue of any kind. Oh, and of course we can’t forget that Barbie is perched upon this delightful “skirt” for everyone to admire. So fun!

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

See, even Barbie says “ta-da!” She’s impressed with the fanciful candy-coloured skirt I made her. (That was only after she forgave me for, um, cutting off her legs . . . ouch!). I was searching for more of a retro Barbie, but I was pleased with her blue and purple bodice so I went for her, even though she’s more of a circa 1999 variety. It was, however, sometime around the moment I was styling her hair for this cake that I realized that I am officially never allowed to complain about my job. Let’s just say no two days are the same.

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

Needless to say, the cake was so visually pleasing and incredibly decadent. I absolutely love the whipped cream and cream cheese icing–light as air, but with a rich and creamy texture and tang that only cream cheese brings. It paired nicely with the intensity of the chocolate cake and sweetness of the meringues. This is one of those cakes that pleases adults just as much as kids, I’m sure, which makes it a perfect party cake for anyone. ♥

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I’m thrilled to giveaway 3 copies of this gorgeous and unique book, Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make, courtesy of the folks at Chronicle Books!

Here’s the recipe for this whimsical cake!

Chocolate and Beet Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Giveaway

Ingredients

  • For the Meringue Girls Mixture (for the meringue kisses):
  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar
  • 150 g egg whites (from about 5 eggs)
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 2/3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 3/4 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) good-quality dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb cooked and peeled beets
  • 6 eggs
  • For the Icing:
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups (400 g) cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Barbie doll (clothes and legs removed)
  • Barbie accessories

Instructions

  1. For the meringue (for the meringue kisses):
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, pour in the sugar, and put the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the sugar are just beginning to melt. Heating the sugar will help it dissolve in the egg whites more quickly and help create a glossy, stable mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, make sure the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer are free from grease. Pour the egg whites into the bowl. Whisk on low speed at first, allowing small bubbles to form, then increase the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites form stiff peaks and the bowl can be tipped upside down without the whites falling out. Stop whisking just before the whites take on a cotton-woolly appearance; if they do, they have been over whisked, and the egg protein has lost some of its elasticity.
  5. By now, the sugar should be ready to take out of the oven.
  6. With the whites stiff and while whisking again at high speed, add one big tablespoonful of hot sugar after another to the bowl ensuring that the whites come back up to stiff peaks after each addition. Don't worry about small clumps of sugar, but avoid adding large chunks of caramelized sugar from the edges of the baking sheet.
  7. Once you have added the sugar, continue to whisk on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers, and if you can still feel gritty sugar, keeping whisking at high speed until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture is smooth, and the bowl is a bit cooler to the touch. The meringue will continue to thicken up during this stage. You know it is ready to use when it forms a nice smooth, shiny peak on the tip of your upturned finger.
  8. To make striped mini meringue kisses:
  9. Divide the meringue mixture into six portions. Form each portion into mini striped kisses in the color of your choice. (It's fine to pipe more than one color onto a single baking sheet.) Turn a large disposable piping bag with a 3/4 inch opening, or a reusable one, inside out. Invert the bag over a jug or bottle so that it holds itself up. Using natural food coloring and a clean paintbrush, paint wide stripes from the tip of your piping bag to halfway down (about five stripes). Roll the bag so the painted side is inside, folding the edges over to make a sturdy vessel.
  10. Carefully spoon your meringue mixture into the piping bag, rolling the sides up. you need to pack the meringue in tightly, ensure there are no air bubbles. Pinch the top of the bag closed, gently pushing the mixture in.
  11. If using a disposable piping bag, with sharp scissors, but the tip of the bag so that the opening measures 3/4 inch in diameter.
  12. To the get the meringue mixture flowing, twist the top of the piping bag to push the meringue to the bottom. Pipe small dollops onto the four corners of your baking sheets (if you are using a full batch of Meringue Girls Mixture, you will need a couple of baking sheets). Line the baking sheets with parchment paper; the meringue dollops with act as a glue and stick the paper to the sheets.
  13. Piping the mini meringue kisses:
  14. Hold the piping bag vertically with both hands, securing the twisted top with your dominant hand and placing your other hand halfway down the bag. Use the top hand to apply pressure and the lower hand to control the flow of the meringue. Squeeze the bag to form a kiss with a 1-inch base, and then lift the bag up while releasing some pressure so that the meringue forms a peak at the top. Space the kisses about 3/4 inch apart.
  15. Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Slide the baking sheets into the oven Bake for 20 minutes, or until they can be lifted off the parchment paper with their bases intact. Let cool completely on the baking sheets. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, the kisses will keep for up to 2 weeks.
  16. To make the cake:
  17. Turn up the oven temperature to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and the line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease an 8-inch ovenproof bowl (about 10 inches deep) and line it with parchment paper.
  18. Sift the flour, superfine sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a large bowl. Cut the beets into large chunks and add to a blender along with the eggs and oil. Puree until smooth. Pour the beet mixture into the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
  19. Pour one-half of the batter into the prepared springform pan and the remaining batter into the prepared bowl. Bake the cakes for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cakes out of the pan and bowl onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment and let cool completely.
  20. To make the icing:
  21. In a large bowl, whip the cream to stiff peaks, then add the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and stiff.
  22. Bling out your Barbie however you'd like--goth or glam, it's up to you.
  23. Set the flat cake layer (the one baked in the springform pan) on a cake platter. Spread with about 1 cup of icing in an even layer. Set the bowl-shaped cake on top, tapered-end up. Using a knife, trim the stacked cake to form a nice hoop-skirt shape.
  24. With a long, slender knife (such as a bread knife), cut a 2-inch deep hole in the center of the cake and insert Barbie to just below her waist. Spread the remaining icing over the cake, taking care to work around Barbie.
  25. Carefully place meringue kisses on the cake, arranging on color at a time in a row around Barbie, starting at her waist and working down. Press the kisses lightly into the icing so that they stick and form a beautiful, colorful meringue-kiss skirt.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

    • For my meringue colours, I used AmeriColor gel paste colours in Lemon Yellow, Teal, Soft Pink, Regal Purple, and Sky Blue. The recipe does call for “natural” food colouring, which I didn’t have, but you can certainly use those if you do. Because we use quite a bit to stripe the meringues, it would definitely be a great idea, but of course not crucial. You can make the meringues up to 2 weeks ahead, which is really helpful with a cake like this.
    • For the 8-inch flat cake layer, I used a standard 8 x 2-inch round cake pan, and it worked well!
    • Try to find a Barbie with plastic bodice, since having any article of clothing around the icing could get icky.
    • Have fun with this–it is like reliving childhood, but stylish and quirky. ♥

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Good luck & enjoy! 

Related posts:

Best-Ever Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere!

I was looking through some older posts the other day, and I came across these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting. And while I’ve never been fixated on Nutella desserts, I had almost forgotten how much I loved the way the sweet and hazelnutty flavour and creamy texture of Nutella added a much-welcome addition to these otherwise classic (but awesome) chocolate cupcakes.  So this week I decided to make a super-simple, quick and easy cake version of those cupcakes, embracing quality dark chocolate, extra dark cocoa powder and, of course, Nutella.

Simply put, the frosting is magical. Like unicorn and rainbows magical.

I have this thing about chocolate frosting. I kind of need it to be airy and satiny, as opposed to super-fudgy and dense–I think it pairs so well with a deep, dark moist chocolate cake, such as this one. This frosting is a take on that same Nutella Cloud Frosting I had used on the cupcakes, but I decided to add much more Nutella and a generous amount of sour cream to balance out the sweet. Rather than using the mixer, I just popped everything into my food processor and gave it a 60-second spin or so. The result was the creamiest and richest sweet chocolate frosting I’ve ever tasted.

In addition to the Nutella, we add a good dose of extra dark premium melted chocolate (I used a 70%) to help keep some of the intense chocolate flavour. The Nutella lends to the satiny texture, but because it is already quite sweet, the overall quality of this frosting is on the sweet side, but with a dark decadence. If you can’t get Nutella, or if you find you prefer a deeper flavour with minimal sweetness, you could even skip the Nutella and add a handful of ground hazelnuts. Of course the texture would change to a more rustic one, but the taste would be notably more sophisticated.

But Nutella seems to bring a nostalgic element for some, and if this cake is going anywhere near a little cakelet’s belly, I think Nutella is the way to go, because kids go, well, nuts for this stuff.

And because this cake, as simple as it is, is a celebration of chocolate, I opted for a medley of pure chocolate sprinkles as the finishing touch. It adds an interesting visual and delightful chocolaty crunch to each slice. For the piped border, I went with an unfussy shell-style border, but extended each one for a few extra seconds to create a more elongated shell look. Nothing fancy, but quick, easy and pretty. Because this frosting pipes like a dream, it makes for the perfect frosting border.

So this photo just goes to show that not all cakes look picture-perfect when sliced (this is what happens when I frost a cake and take photos 10 minutes later, rather than refrigerating it for some time to set), but holy Easter-bunny this chocolaty madness is divine. And it couldn’t be easier to create. You’ll see!

Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 7-inch round cake

Super-moist, dark chocolate cake filled and frosted with satiny dark chocolate & Nutella sour cream frosting and covered in a medley of chocolate sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups (285 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3 cups (470 grams) superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 grams) salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4 1/2 cups (565 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (280 grams) Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) full-fat sour cream
  • 11 ounces (330 grams) best-quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 7-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment rounds.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 1 minute on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans--each pan should contain about 600 grams of batter.
  4. Bake the first 2 layers for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining layer, and then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  6. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. The frosting will be very soft. Refrigerate the frosting until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
  7. Assembly of the Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake:
  8. Put a dollop of frosting on a 7-inch round cake board (or cake plate) or 8-inch scalloped cake board.
  9. Put your first layer top-up on the cake board or plate, and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly across layer. Put the second cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting. Put the final cake layer top-down. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and wiggle the layers into place. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes.
  10. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another thin layer of frosting, this time working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill for another 15 minutes.
  11. Apply a third coat of frosting to the cake. Holding a tall pastry comb in your dominant hand, press it gently against the side of the cake and keep it steady. Use the other hand to slowly rotate the turntable until you have gone all the way around the cake. Gently press some chocolate sprinkles around the bottom edge of the cake.
  12. Fit a medium pastry bag with a medium-large closed star tip, such as 1M, and fill about 2/3 full with frosting. Pipe a border around the top of the cake. Chill the cake until the frosting border firms up, at least 30 minutes.
  13. Cover the top of the cake (but not the piped border) with chocolate sprinkles. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top. The cake will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you don’t have 7-inch round cake pans, you could also use 8-inch cake pans. The layers will just be ever-so-slightly shorter.
  • For the cake layers, I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Brute–it adds so much depth, chocolate-y flavour and a wonderfully dark hue.
  • For the frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 %  to balance the sweetness of the Nutella.
  • I used one of the Wilton Decorate Smart 3-Piece Icing Comb Set for the sides of the cake (the furthest comb to the right in the image).
  • I used a medley of chocolate vermicelli sprinkles on top, including India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli and De Ruyter Chocoadehagel. Any kind works well, but I prefer to keep it to pure chocolate vermicelli, as opposed to just chocolate jimmies.
  • Because the frosting has sour cream in it, it’s best to refrigerate this cake if it hasn’t been gobbled up after a day. Keep refrigerated at that point, and serve at room temperature (although it tastes pretty great cold too).

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Diner Dream Cake

You’re here! Thank you for not forgetting about me completely while I wasn’t able to post for the past few weeks. I promise it won’t be like that forever, but I have to admit while I work on the book it’s been more difficult for me to post often. (It will be worth it!) It could also have something to do with my crazy side, and how many times I make a recipe before I’m happy with it and ready to share. Either way, I’m here now and I’m so pleased you are too. xo

So let’s talk about Diner Dream Cake. (And my need to give include superfluous adjectives in my cake titles?) I call it that because after I made it to satisfy my recent craving for diner-ish flavours — things like chocolate chips, peanut butter, vanilla and whipped cream. After I assembled the cake I realized that it actually did look like something you’d find in a little hidden gem of a diner (I think it was the cherry on top that did it).

It’s a super simple cake to make, which is always a plus, and I love the way these flavours came together: moist chocolate chip buttermilk cake filled with a fluffy peanut butter mousse and then frosted in a quick and easy vanilla bean whipped cream frosting. It was looking rather . . . vanilla, so I crushed up some roasted peanuts and tossed them with turbinado sugar and a bit of pink sanding sugar and coated the cake — it always tastes so good to me when things are super fluffy and then there’s a hit of crunch in there. (Yep, I was the one kid who always ordered those little peanuts on my McDonald’s sundaes.)

I assembled this final cake moments before the sun was out and ready for me to photograph it in the short time I had with the right natural light, so you can see that perfect slices only happen when cake is chilled ahead of time, and that I don’t have cake-cutting super powers unless the cake is set. But isn’t it true that the messiest cakes are the best tasting? Soft, fluffy, fall-apart cakes are the ultimate to eat.

And I don’t know, I haven’t made a lot of chocolate chip cakes yet, but I realized that simply tossing premium chocolate chips into vanilla cake batter really is what makes a cake “chocolate chip cake,” so if you have a favourite vanilla cake recipe, you could always use that and toss in the chips and go from there.

The peanut butter mousse filling is a cream cheese based filling with peanut butter, icing sugar, whipped cream and vanilla — a simple mix, whip, mix and it’s done. When I spotted it on Serious Eats I knew it would be the perfect peanut butter filling — there’s something about cream cheese and peanut butter that is so magical and reminds of peanut butter pie. The vanilla bean whipped cream frosting I did this time is just a simple whip of whipped cream, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste. It takes 2 minutes to make, and if you whip it until firm peaks form (just don’t overdo it until it appears dry and spongy), you can pipe a border and frost the cake with ease.

You definitely don’t have to coat the cake in peanuts and sugar to make it a tasty cake, but who wants to pass up a chance to, literally, through handfuls of sugar and peanuts at your cake? Plus I love that the sugar creates this subtle sparkle on a cake you wouldn’t expect to find sparkle . . .

I hope you’re all having an amazing summer so far. With the sugar storm in my kitchen for the past few months, the time has been going by alarmingly quickly. So much so that it just dawned on me that next Tuesday I’m turning thirty nine. As in years old. As in next year I’m, you know, the number that comes after thirty nine. I’m not one to worry about age, but I have to admit that number frightens me. But hey, a birthday is a birthday, and where there is a birthday there is celebration. And where there is celebration there is confetti. And where there is confetti, you know there’s going to be cake. And around cake is no place to be anything but happy. ♥

Diner Dream Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 6-inch round cake or one 2-layer, 8-inch round cake

Three layers of moist chocolate chip buttermilk cake filled with peanut butter mousse, smothered in vanilla bean whipped cream frosting and coated with sugar & peanuts. With a cherry on top!

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Chip Cake:
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1-1/3 (320 ml) cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract OR Princess Bakery Emulsion
  • 2-3/4 cups (317 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (18 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 10 tablespoons (130 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 20 even pieces
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  • 1 package (250 g brick) cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (125 g) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whipping cream (35% fat)
  • For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Peanut Sugar Coating:
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) roasted peanuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) turbinado sugar
  • Few tablespoons of pink sanding sugar, optional
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Chip Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom of three 7-inch round cake pans (or two 8-inch round or 9-inch round pans) and line bottoms with parchment rounds.
  2. In a medium measuring cup with a spout, lightly whisk the egg whites and yolk. In a separate measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time, about 10 seconds apart. (You can keep half in the fridge while you add the first half of butter.) Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and there are no clumps. Mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  4. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture to these dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture; once the mixture has been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, but no more.
  5. Toss the chocolate chips with a few pinches of cake flour and gently fold into batter.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans (use a kitchen scale to ensure 3 even layers--cakes should weight ~450 g each). Place two of the cake pans on a baking sheet and bake until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but no batter, about 23 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then loosen sides with thin metal spatula or knife, and carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
  7. For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, peanut butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to another bowl (unless you're lucky enough to have another mixer bowl). Wash and dry both bowl and whisk attachment and chill in the freezer or refrigerator.
  9. Fit the mixer with the chilled bowl and whisk and whip the cream on medium high speed until firm peaks form (but not clumpy), about 1 minute. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture and cover and chill until ready to use.
  10. For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Frosting:
  11. Chill your mixer bowl and whisk in freezer for 5 minutes, then whip the cream, icing sugar and salt on medium high speed until firm peaks form (but not clumpy). Add vanilla bean paste and mix on low speed until incorporated. Best used right away.
  12. Assembly of the Cake:
  13. I recommend making the filling while the cakes are in the oven, and then chilling until the cakes are cool. Once cakes are cool and you have filled them with the peanut butter filling, make the whipped cream frosting (it only takes a couple of minutes to make).
  14. Trim any dark edges or crust from cake layers with a very sharp serrated knife. Place your first cake layer, face-up, onto a cake stand, plate or cake board. Place half of the peanut butter filling on top of the layer and spread evenly using a small offset spatula.
  15. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume. Use your clean offset spatula to carefully smooth the frosting so it's flat against the cake.
  16. an even layer of frosting to the entire cake, to seal in crumbs. Chill again until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
  17. Place cake plate/board with cake onto a turntable, if possible. Using an offset spatula, spread the whipped cream frosting on the top of the cake, letting it extend about 1/2" over the edge, then smooth excess onto side of cake. With a medium straight spatula, cover the sides of the cake until you have a smooth even coat of frosting by slowly turning the cake turntable with one hand while holding the spatula steady with the other. Use your small offset spatula to smooth top of cake. Place remaining whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (I used #887) and pipe a border around the top perimeter for the cake. Chill for 30 minutes.
  18. In a medium ziploc bag, combine the peanuts and sugar. Remove cake from fridge put back onto turntable. Place turntable and cake onto a baking sheet (for ease of clean-up), and gently coat the sides of the cake with the sugar mixture. (You may have to "throw" it at the cake!) Top with a maraschino cherry.
  19. Keep cake refrigerated for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature. Best enjoyed day 1.
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[peanut butter mousse filling adapted from Serious Eats]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The recipe is for a three layer, 6-inch round cake, but the one in the photo is an 8-inch round. If you want to make a three layer, 8-inch round cake, you can increase the cake recipe by half (rather than doubling the recipe). You can keep the filling and frosting recipes the same.
  • You can make the cake layers up to 1 day ahead, but keep them wrapped tightly and at room temperature. I do, though, recommend making them the morning you need the cake, if possible.
  • You can make the peanut butter filling one day ahead, but keep refrigerated.
  • The whipped cream frosting is best made right before you need it.
  • For the frosting, I used Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste – a quick and easy way to get that real vanilla bean taste and those awesome little black vanilla flecky things we all love.
  • For all of my cake decorating, I use a cake turntable–it’s definitely a must-have. I have a homemade version, but have recently started using the Ateco Revolving Cake Stand, and I love it.
  • I always use a Small Offset Spatula and Medium Straight Spatula when frosting a cake.
Good luck & enjoy!

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Vanilla Blackberry-Mascarpone Cake for Two

Vanilla Mascarpone Blackberry Cake via Sweetapolita

So, are you still feeling the love from yesterday? Are you all stocked up on chocolate-ness? After much frolicking with the recent Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two (which actually became for one), I was feeling a serious need for vanilla and pastel. That, and Grant is a vanilla-man, through and through, so I thought I might make something for us to share to celebrate Valentine’s Day — something super vanilla, but made with a bit more love, a bit more going on and a whole lot of colour. This time, the colours took cue from the flavours, which I knew had to include blackberry compote and fresh blackberries. I’ve been craving this for so long, and I don’t know why I waited this long.

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake via Sweetapolita

So colourful swirls aside, what’s going in inside this cake? It’s 4 layers of a moist and fluffy vanilla cake, filled with a vanilla mascarpone whipped cream filling and a homemade blackberry compote, fresh blackberries and frosted in a whipped vanilla frosting (on the sweeter side). I recently started using this fabulous Princess Bakery Flavor, which I use in place of vanilla extract. It imparts the most nostalgic vanilla-almond, hard-t0-describe flavour and doesn’t look flavour while baking (remember my passion for the Red Velvet emulsion from this Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake?). Now I’m finding I use it in cookies, french toast, pancakes and pretty much anything I can manage to add it to. And with all of this vanilla-ness happening in this cake, I feel that the blackberries and mascarpone whipped cream create a balance, making it a glorious eclipse of childhood nostalgia and a grown-up palate.

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake via Sweetapolita

Sure, I do call this a “cake for two” with its bitty 5-inch diameter, but it could definitely work for three or four (if you’re into that sort of thing). I just love a dessert that you can dig right into with someone .

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake via Sweetapolita

Kind of like this. This was the iPhone snap of the test-run of this cake I made last week – there’s just something awesome about digging right in (and here’s another 6-second looped video of me doing just that). The first time I made it I added more compote and blackberries (which is reflected in the recipe below), and that was the way to go. Bursts of blackberries and clouds of mascarpone meringue in every bite — a must.

You might notice that the whipped cream filling that I used here (minus the mascarpone) is the same recipe from the past 2 cakes I’ve posted, and some of you have written me with issues of your cream falling apart when you add the gelatin mixture. Just a note that, although it’s a fairly straight-forward recipe, it’s crucial that you add the gelatin mixture very gradually while the cream in the mixer has just reached a soft peak. If you whip the cream past this point and then add the gelatin mixture, and/or if you add the mixture too quickly, it will flop (I did this). Once you get used to it, you’ll find that this filling is an amazing cream base that can be modified and flavoured in so many ways. I love that it’s not sweet, and that it’s so cloud-like.

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake via Sweetapolita

For the swirly colour technique (previously shared in this early post with a similar cake, Pastel Swirl Cake {Video Tutorial}), I chose to work in a dark blackberry colour, and then tied it into a pastel version of the same colour and then some minty turquoise for interest. You can certainly work with any colours you like, but I felt that this was a neat way to hint at what flavours are ready to burst inside.

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake via Sweetapolita

I’ve included the previous video tutorial, which you might find helpful if you’re making this cake. The good news is that you really can’t go wrong, as long as you choose colours that work nicely together. If you aren’t sure what colours to work well together, you can pull ideas and inspiration from almost anything around you. Pinterest is, of course, a great place to start.

So there we go! As you can probably imagine, the colour combinations are endless for this technique, which is one of the reasons it makes me so happy — no two cakes are ever the same.
Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake via Sweetapolita

Vanilla Blackberry-Mascarpone Cake for Two

Yield: One 4-layer, 5-inch round cake

Four layers of light, moist and fluffy vanilla cake filled with blackberry compote, fresh blackberries, whipped vanilla mascarpone filling and covered in a sweet, creamy vanilla frosting.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 egg whites (65 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) *Princess Cake & Bakery Emulsion OR pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (142 g) cake flour, sifted twice
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) vegetable shortening
  • For the Blackberry Compote:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) orange juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Whipped Mascarpone Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • You Will Also Need:
  • Medium or Large Pastry Bag fitted with plain round tip (a resealable Ziploc bag will do in a pinch)
  • Soft Gel Paste Colours of your choice
  • Small Offset Spatula

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment, butter and flour two round 5-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, egg, 2 tablespoons of the milk and emulsion (or vanilla). Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and shortening, and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition.
  6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers (they should each weigh about 270 g).
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals.
  8. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  9. For the Blackberry Compote:
  10. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1-1/2 cups of the blackberries, sugar, orange juice and salt until the berries start to break down, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  11. Lower the heat and simmer until compote coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.
  12. Remove from heat and let cool down slightly. Using an immersion blender (carefully) or counter-top blender, pulse until smooth. Push compote through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass bowl and discard the seeded pulp from the sieve. Stir in remaining fresh blackberries. Keep covered and chilled for up to 3 days.
  13. For the Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone Filling:
  14. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  15. In a chilled stainless steel bowl with a chilled whisk attachment (for stand mixer), beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens just slightly and soft peaks begin to form, about 1 minute. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). In a large bowl, soften mascarpone and gently fold in whipped cream mixture. Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  16. For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
  17. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  18. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Separate into 3 bowls and tint with your favourite gel paste colours. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
  19. Assembly of the Vanilla Blackberry & Mascarpone Cake for Two:
  20. Cut your 2 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 4 layers. Place your first cake layer, face-up, onto a small plate or cake stand (or 5-inch round foil cake board).Fill your pastry bag with about a cup of the Whipped Vanilla Frosting (un-tinted) and pipe a dam around the perimeter of the cake layer (this will keep our compote and Whipped Mascarpone Filling in place). Spoon a few tablespoons of the compote and berries inside of the dam, along with a few tablespoons of the whipped filling. Gently spread the filling using a small offset spatula.
  21. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume. If you see any spots where the compote is peeking through or starting to ooze out (ahh!), use your piping bag to squeeze more frosting over it, between the layers. Use your clean offset spatula to carefully smooth the frosting so it's flat against the cake.
  22. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap (I like Press n' Seal), and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight and flattening any lumps or bumps of frosting. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  23. Once cake is stable and chilled, apply an even layer of frosting to the entire cake, to seal in crumbs. Chill again until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes (at least). While the cake is chilling, you can divide remaining frosting into 4 small bowls, and tint 3 of them with your soft gel paste. Keep one bowl of frosting un-tinted.
  24. Place cake plate/board with cake onto a turntable, if possible. Be sure your frosting is smooth and fluffy, working it with a rubber spatula for a few moments. You can even warm in microwave for a few seconds to soften it up. Apply a thick layer of your darkest colour to the bottom third of your cake, then another above it over the middle of the cake, and finally your final colour of frosting all over the top and upper third of cake. Add the un-tinted frosting in a few areas, to add interest. Using a metal spatula blend the colours together by smoothing frosting all over cake, as you would a typical one-colour cake. Be careful to not overblend. For textured effect (as in photos) you can use a small metal spatula, holding it with one hand on an angle starting at bottom of cake, keeping it fairly still, move the turntable with the other hand, slowly letting the spatula move up slightly with every turn.

Notes

*You can make the compote up to 2 days ahead. **Keep cake chilled for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature. [blackberry compote recipe adapted from Globe & Mail]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used this Princess Bakery Flavor for the vanilla cake, which is an amazing emulsion that gives the cake a vanilla-almond sort of flavour and doesn’t lose taste when baked. You can simply use vanilla if you can’t find this.
  • I use this MAC Knife for all of my cake layering. It’s super sharp and makes clean cake layers, ideal for building not-so-crumby layer cakes.
  • To achieve the colours on this cake, I started with the darkest purple, using a mix of Regal PurpleSuper RedViolet and Electric Purple. You will have to play around for a few moments, adding more and more colour — if it’s getting too drab, add quite a bit of electric purple. If it’s too blue violet, add more red. You’ll find eventually you’ll end up with this deep dark blackberry colour. Then I took about a teaspoon of the mixture and added it to one of the bowls of un-tinted frosting, creating a pastel version of the same colour. Finally, I added a drop or two of Sky Blue for the pastel minty turquoise colour.
  • You’ll want to keep this cake in the fridge between servings for up to two days, but it’s best served at room temperature and day 1.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Vanilla Cream-Filled Cake for Two via Sweetapolita

Hi, guys! This post might be a teaser of sorts with its iPhone-only photos, but the good news is that this recipe is one that I couldn’t go another day without sharing. I had planned to do “official” photos of this cake, and I still might when I make it again for my man on Valentine’s Day, but for now let’s talk about how much I want you to make this cake. (I also think this is perfect best-friend-sharing cake for two!)

What exactly is going on in that little 5″ round tower of gooey decadence? It’s 6 layers of a deep, dark (super-moist) chocolate chip devil’s food cake stacked and filled with a fluffy vanilla cream and smothered in a glossy, satiny, super-chocolaty glaze. I say it’s “for two,” but of course you both might surrender before  it’s all done and save some for later. You can smother it in the glaze and then let it set, but I think it’s much sexier and decadent to pour the warm gooey glaze all over it and embrace the messy deliciousness digging right in — this is no time for cutting pristine slices.

I made this little super-simple chalkboard cake topper to profess my love by cutting out two chalkboard labels with a tag cutter (but you could use scissors) and taping to each side of bamboo skewer that I cut to size. So easy!

And this is one of those cakes that you can infinitely modify with new flavours. I love the idea of adding liqueur to the glaze (I did Grand Marnier for a hint of orange), and you can even go ahead and add some orange zest to the cream filling. I love the idea of an espresso theme — you could add Kahlua to the glaze, and even add a bit of coffee extract to the cream filling. What I do recommend, though, is always using the best chocolate you can, especially with the glaze. I used an extra dark chocolate with 72% cocoa solids, but you can use any kind you like. You’ll just want to stay away from milk chocolate, as it’s just a bit too sweet for this kind of glaze.

I opted out of using a ganache (chocolate and heavy cream) because the cake filling is made from heavy cream, and I find that much ganache on top of this much cake and cream filling a bit over the top, but you could definitely give that a try if you’re feeling rebellious. The glaze is made from chocolate, butter, a bit of light corn syrup, splash of liqueur (optional) and a pinch of sea salt (I also love how easy it is to make.) and, like ganache, takes to pretty much any flavouring you love.

So you might see another version of this cake soon, along with a few other upcoming cake delights, but in the meantime here is the recipe for this ooey gooey, super-chocolaty cake for two. Oh, and if you’d like to check out me digging into this cake for real (and I realize it’s just me . . . not two), you can watch it here, taken via my new favourite iPhone app, “Vine.” An app kind of like Instagram, but rather than viewing snippets of life in images, you see 6-second looped video clips — way too much fun. ♥

Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Yield: One 6-layer, 5-inch round cake

Moist, dark and decadent chocolate chip devil's food cake stacked high and filled with vanilla cream and covered in a rich and super chocolaty glaze . . . for two.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups (300 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (145 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) Dutch-process dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk, shaken and warm
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coffee or espresso
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup premium dark or extra dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
  • For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 6 oz (180 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) light corn syrup
  • Splash of liqueur of choice, optional (grand marnier, spiced rum, kahlua, etc.)
  • Pinch of sea salt (regular salt, if necessary)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 5-inch round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the coffee and buttermilk. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, then fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda (it will foam) and quickly add to batter, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 275 g each (excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Try not to over-bake.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  7. For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  8. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  9. In a chilled stainless steel bowl, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens slightly and soft peaks form. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  10. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  11. Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in liqueur and salt.
  12. Assembly of the Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two:
  13. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  14. Place your first layer face-up on a plate and cover with an even thin layer of the Vanilla Cream Filling, taking it right to the edge. Place another cake layer face-up and spread another layer of the filling on top. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume.
  15. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap, and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  16. Pour the warm chocolate glaze all over cake. Dig in.

Notes

[vanilla cream filling adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used three 5 x 2 Inch Round Cake Pan for this cake. These pans are super cute and so handy for small layers cakes. It feels unnatural spending money on three of the same pan at first, but it’s so worth it if you like building multi-layer cakes. 
  • I used 72% Bittersweet Chocolate  for my chocolate chips in the cake itself and the glaze, which really a dark and intense chocolate. You can use any premium dark or extra dark chocolate you might have on hand or prefer.
  • I use this MAC Knife for all of my cake layering. It’s super sharp and makes clean cake layers, ideal for building not-so-crumby layer cakes.
  • I recommend chilling the wrapped cake layers for about 30 minutes before slicing them to build the cake, and then chilling the filled cake (you can carefully cover with plastic wrap) for about an hour before covering with the glaze and eating. It’s not required, but if you find your cake is wobbly, this helps set the filling, keeping it more stable.
  • Leftover cake (is there such a thing?) should be refrigerated, because of the whipped cream filling and served at room temperature. I love this chocolate cake because it stays unthinkably moist even after refrigeration.
  • For the cake topper, I used this Tag Punch and cut from something similar to this Black Chalkboard Vinyl and then just trimmed the end for a plain rectangle. (The tag punch is also awesome for making these photo gift tags, among other fun ideas.)

Good luck & enjoy!

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