Choco Choco Birthday Cake

Choco Choco Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Birthday! Who’s birthday is it? I’m not sure, but it’s got to be someone’s birthday and I know they deserve this cake. Besides, any cake designated a birthday cake and adorned with candles just tastes better, in my opinion–especially chocolate cake.

Do you ever wake up in the morning and say, “That’s it, I’ve had quite enough chocolate in my lifetime. Please, whatever you do, don’t give me any more chocolate!”? Me neither. That would just be weird. And sometimes I wake up and realize that if I don’t have scale-tipping amounts of chocolate, most often in cake form, I may not make it through the day. Who’s with me? Is that a girl thing? A survival thing? A hormonal thing? Either way, that’s how this cake came to be, or at least how it came to be in my kitchen.

Choco Choco Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

It’s a super-chocolaty layer cake that has both dark chocolate and natural cocoa powder, as well as sour cream, butter, brown sugar and more. The frosting is as light as air and is made using a variation of the old-fashioned cooked flour & milk method, and it’s perfect for those who don’t like super sweet frosting, because it’s basically just creamy, chocolaty fluffiness (yes, I’m an adjective junkie). In addition to the flour and milk, it’s made using granulated sugar (no icing sugar), a double dose of dark chocolate (cocoa powder and melted chocolate), vanilla and glorious heaps of butter.

Choco Choco Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

So here’s what happened: I came across this recipe for this cake on epicurious one day, and it’s all I could think about for weeks (literally). I was really intrigued by not only the name (mile-high chocolate cake), the yummy photo and the very thought of all of that chocolate in one cake, but by the mixed reviews. It was so divided, and those who liked it, loved it and those who didn’t, really didn’t. This always fascinates me. I know it’s human nature to have a unique opinion, but how could it be so varied? It seems that those who didn’t love it had some issues with preparation, so that would explain that, but since several others loved it, I couldn’t resist giving it a try.

Choco Choco Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Okay, so the cake layers do take quite a bit more time than the beloved one-bowl chocolate cake layers, for certain, but I really loved the taste and texture of this cake. It’s dense and moist, but above all it was very, very chocolaty. The frosting is the lightest chocolate frosting I’ve ever eaten, and the not-so-sweet factor allowed the chocolate to come through in full force.

I’m really excited to make another batch of this frosting again for a close friend, Danielle, who finds sugary frosting almost impossible to eat, yet appreciates chocolaty desserts. There’s also a good chance that I will make another batch simply for me to bathe in.

Instead of baking the cake layers in 2 standard round cake pans, I did 1 standard round cake pan and 1 contour cake pan, so that the top would be slightly domed, because I had other plans for decorating this cake, but when I started to frost it, I couldn’t get over how light the frosting was, and it just desperately wanted to be swirled by the spoonful onto the cake. So, next time I would probably stick with the 2 standard round cake pans. Turns out it’s simply one of those cakes that doesn’t want to be structured and fancy–it just wants to be rich & chocolaty.

So this weekend, whether you’re baking this or anything at all, bake up some memories–it’s good for the soul (yours and others’).

Or just let it all go and get wild.

Or both.

In other exciting news:

  • Check out this fun interview I did for the M.I.S.S. feature, “Women Making History.” I found their questions so refreshing!
  • My talented blogger friend, Heather from Sprinkle Bakes, is only weeks away (May 1st) from her new book release: SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, but it is now available for pre-order. This book will be something special, I can guarantee it. Congratulations, Heather!
  • I’m working my through Ree’s new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier, recipe by recipe, and I can honestly say that because of her and her books, my friends and family are starting to think I can actually cook.
  • I’m not sure how I just discovered it, but I’m loving HeyYoYo on esty for super-fun party and cake decorating doodads. Not only does she have an amazing array of goods, but she ships all over the world and for a really reasonable price. As someone in the seemingly far away land that is Canada, I so appreciate that shop-owner Amanda recognizes that shipping here for less than a fortune is doable. And her stuff is just way too fun.

So, here’s the recipe for this choco choco cake, and what I’ve done is listed the ingredients as found in the original recipe, and then added the weight measurements and my own method and notes. It may or may not be the messiest cake I’ve ever made, as far as the prep goes. I’ve no idea how or why, but my kitchen was invaded with chocolate and dishes, but it was worth it. As it always is.

Choco Choco Birthday Cake          {click to print}

(aka Mile-High Chocolate Cake from epicurious.com)

Yield 10 to 12 servings

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 1/2 hours

Ingredients

For the cake:

5 ounces (145 grams) good-quality dark or extra dark chocolate (semisweet or bittersweet), chopped (I used Callebaut Dark Callets)

2 1/4 sticks (9 ounces/260 grams) unsalted butter, softened

2 3/4 cups (11 ounces/315 grams) cake flour (not self-rising), sifted *see notes

1/4 cup (24 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process, such as Ghirardelli Chocolate Baking Cocoa)

2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes

1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar

1 cup (7.5 ounces/220 grams) packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla)

2 cups (475 mL) sour cream

For frosting

1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (47 grams) all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons (36 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not Dutch-process, such as such as Ghirardelli Chocolate Baking Cocoa) *see notes

1 1/2 cups (360 mL) whole milk

4 ounces (115 grams) good-quality dark or extra dark (semisweet or bittersweet) chocolate, finely chopped (I used Callebaut Dark Callets)

1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey Vanilla)

6 sticks (1.5 pound/680 grams/3 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Method

Make the cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and put oven rack in the middle. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans, dust with flour or cocoa powder, tap out excess and set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. You can do this in the microwave in 20 second intervals, or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water (be sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl). Let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed (I use #4 on KitchenAid) until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

5. At low speed (I use #2 on my KitchenAid), mix in melted chocolate until incorporated, followed by dry ingredients in 3 batches alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and mixing until each addition is just incorporated. *Don’t over-mix.

6. Spread batter evenly in pans (you can weigh batter in pans for perfectly even layers) using a small offset spatula. Rap pans several times on counter to eliminate any air bubble and bake on center rack until a toothpick comes clean and remove cakes from oven, about 35-40 minutes. *Be sure to not open oven before 2o minutes (with these cakes, ideally 30 minutes) to check cakes and take care to not over-bake.

7. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes, and then carefully loosen them from the edges of the cake pans with your small palette knife and gently invert cakes onto racks to cool completely (about an hour).

Make frosting:

1. Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt in a  small heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add milk and cook, whisking  constantly, until mixture boils and is smooth and thick (5-8 minutes).

2. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla, until smooth. Transfer mixture to a heatproof bowl to cool to room temperature, covering surface with parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming.

3. In electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 5 minutes, then gradually add cooled chocolate mixture, beating until frosting is fluffy and spreadable.

Assembly of the Double Chocolate Birthday Cake:

1. Cut each cake with one horizontal cut using a long serrated knife (I use the Mac Bread Knife for all my cake layering and trimming).

2. Put 1 layer on a cake stand or large plate (cut side up) and spread top with 1 1/4 cups frosting using an offset spatula (such as this Offset Spatula)

3. Repeat with 2 more layers, then add remaining layer (cut side down) and spread top and side of cake with remaining frosting. If frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator for a few moments, remove and carry on.

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • This cake is dense in nature, but moist and very chocolaty.
  • To learn more about cake flour (and many others) or to make your own cake flour, check out this previous post).
  • If you don’t have unsweetened natural cocoa, and only Dutch process (cocoa that’s been treated with an alkalizing agent to neutralize the natural acidity of cocoa powder), you can make an adjustment and use it, but don’t straight out substitute it. You can add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar, or 1/8  teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar, for every 3 tablespoons (18 grams) of Dutch process in the recipe to balance it out (thank Joy of Baking for that tip!).
  • I made the cake 2 days ahead and wrapped the uncut layers tightly in plastic wrap and kept on the counter (room temp).
  • I made the frosting right before needing it, but the recipe notes that frosting can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered–bring to room temperature (about 1 hour) and beat until fluffy before using.
  • I frosted the cake and covered and chilled it (because of the sour cream and soft nature of the frosting) overnight, and it was still moist.
  • I found the small alphabet candles at a local bakery, but I can’t seem to find the same ones online for you to source (for those of you who may want to know). I’ll keep checking, because they’re so cute and fun.

Good luck & enjoy!

 


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Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Here’s the thing about four-year-olds: They are clever, they are charming, and they let you get away with nothing! Nothing at all, really, such as missing and not baking cakes for their toys’ birthdays. Yep. But, as you may have guessed, I am very open to the idea, and felt simply terrible that I forgot dear Clementine the Monkey’s birthday. Bad mommy. Bad. When Reese explained that it was Clementine’s birthday, and that we forgot to bake her a cake, I asked her what kind of cake would she want. She replied, “She’s a monkey, mommy, so banana, ice cream, and sprinkles, of course!” I simply couldn’t argue with that logic.

Sweetapolita

The good news for Clementine (and my girls) is that I’ve been wanting a reason to try making an ice cream cake, and I thought this seemed to be the perfect occasion. I found a fun and easy no-bake recipe for a round two-layer ice cream cake, and gave it a whirl. I was pretty enamoured with the concept: ice cream, a chocolate cookie crust, a ganache shell, and no-bake. Well, it was no-bake until I decided to replace the middle layer with my favourite brownie recipe, but it’s not necessary to make this cake yummy.

I did love the chewy brownie center, and I loved the idea that the possibilities for ice cream cake are endless: you can add almost anything you can dream up, and chances are it will take great inside an ice cream cake. Next time I would be tempted to create homemade ice cream for this cake, but a premium ice cream (they freeze well) worked well. You definitely could use homemade, if you enjoy and have time to make your own.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

The original recipe was peppermint, but we assumed that Clementine would want no part of that, so I went with a premium vanilla ice cream mixed with some frozen banana puree (any reason to use my food processor excites me). It was really a pretty simple way to go, but I wanted to avoid filling it with candy (although you definitely could, and it’s safe to say that I will too in the near future), and I wanted something classic and not too sweet. It was a success!

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

After an entire night of freezing, it was finally ready to go, and the kids eagerly awaited their slices. Is it just me, or does Clementine have that cake in an unrelenting stare-lock?

Sweetapolita

Neve was definitely ready for cake. But, then again, she was born ready.

Sweetapolita

And smiles for Daddy (I’m pretty sure that those expressions of adoration are exclusive to him) while they waited ever-so-patiently.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

It was so yummy, but I have to tell you this was the most difficult treat I’ve ever photographed. As you can imagine, it started to melt pretty quickly and the window for photography was small. Good thing it tasted so good.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday Dear Clementine

Happy Birthday to You

Here’s the recipe for the no-bake version. If you would like to try it with the brownie, you can simply omit step two and replace with your favourite brownie baked in an 8-inch round pan and chilled. I’ve included the recipe for my all-time favourite brownies below (I highly recommend making them anytime, actually) adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Actually, I’ve been making these incredible brownies for several years now, and they are one of the most requested things I bake. I believe that using premium chocolate is the key.

Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake

Yield: One 9-inch, 2 layer cake. Serves 12

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 8 oz. (227 g) premium bittersweet (extra dark) or semisweet (dark) chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)(115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 packages chocolate wafers (382 g) or 382 g of Oreo cookie crumbs
  • For the Filling:
  • 7 cups of premium vanilla ice cream, slightly softened (or you can use homemade banana ice cream, and eliminate the addition of bananas)
  • 3 large bananas, frozen
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipping cream (heavy cream, 35%)
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) light corn syrup
  • 6 oz. (170 g) premium bittersweet (extra dark) or semisweet (dark) chocolate, finely chopped
  • Sprinkles, optional

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Stir gently with rubber spatula to make sure it is completely smooth and remove from heat.
  2. While chocolate and butter are bring warmed, grind chocolate wafers in food processor until fine crumbs (unless you are using store-bought cookie crumbs). Gently stir cookie crumbs into warm chocolate and butter mixture until just combined.
  3. Set 1 cup (240 ml) of the mixture aside, and press remaining crumbs onto the sides and then the bottom of a 9-inch round with 2-3/4" sides springform pan. Place in freezer until firm.
  4. For the Filling:
  5. Remove frozen bananas from freezer about for about 30 minutes to soften, then puree in food processor. With a wooden spoon, stir banana puree into vanilla ice cream (or, if you're using homemade banana ice cream, omit step 1-2). You will want to work fairly quickly so the ice cream doesn't become too soft.
  6. For the Glaze:
  7. Melt cream and corn syrup in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to bubble.
  8. Pour over chocolate and whisk gently in circular motion, until smooth. Let cool for about 45 minutes.
  9. Assembly of the Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake:
  10. Spoon half of the ice cream into the frozen crust and spread evenly with an offset palette knife (you will want to place the bowl of remaining ice cream into the freezer while you work on the first half).
  11. Sprinkle and gently press the reserved crumb mixture on top, followed by 1 cup of the cooled glaze. Freeze for about an hour.
  12. Place remaining ice cream on top and freeze for about 4 hours.
  13. Warm bowl of glaze over simmering water until it has thinned, but not too warm. Spread over top of ice cream with the small offset palette knife. Sprinkle with desired decorations while glaze is still wet. Freeze overnight.
  14. Loosen sides of cake with a small knife between pan and cake, then release from springform pan, and place on plate or platter.

Notes

Best sliced when chilled and best enjoyed room temperature, warm, chilled, or even frozen.

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[ice cream cake recipe adapted from Bon Appetit]

Rich & Classic Chocolate Brownies

These rich and chocolaty brownies melt-in-your mouth, and are best enjoyed with no frosting, but only a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Ingredients

  • 6-1/2 oz. (185 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1-1/2 sticks (173 g) unsalted butter
  • 1-2/3 (332 g) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. For use in the ice cream cake, line an 8-inch round pan (or, if you're making these apart from the Ice Cream Cake, you can use a 13 x 9-inch baking pan) with parchment paper (leave some overhang for easy removal).
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small pot of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove bowl from the heat, and add the sugar, stirring until well incorporated. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and mix until thick and smooth.
  4. Spread the batter among your pan evenly with a small offset palette knife and bake until the surface of the brownie is cracking and flaky, about 30 minutes.
  5. The center of the brownie will still be soft, and you may feel that they aren't quite done, but they will solidify a bit more during cooling. The result is a melt-in-your mouth texture.
  6. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Chill in pan, then remove using parchment overhang.
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[brownie recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you decide to do a brownie layer, you can bake your favourite brownie in an 8-inch round pan lined with parchment paper (you will want the brownie layer to be no more than 1″ high. Cool and chill in pan, then remove from pan and place over first ice cream layer, pressing down gently, and continue with Assembly step 3.
  • The flavour combinations are absolutely endless for this dessert! Substitute any of your favourite ice cream flavours, add a layer of caramel, add some cheesecake bits, add chunks of candy — anything you can think of!
  • This cake is best sliced carefully with a sharp, hot knife as it is quite hard when it comes out of the freezer.

Good luck & enjoy!

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