Chocolate Birthday Cake
Having a food blog makes you instantly popular. People email you recipes. Your mother may cut out recipes from magazines and ask you to make them for her, in fact. Even kids like you better once you start to blog about food.
My friend’s young nephew was eager to tell me of a recipe he had invented. He’d never made it, mind, but he thought that I should. He had thought of a chocolate cake, with a layer of chocolate pudding in the middle, covered by chocolate frosting, with a layer of chocolate cookie crumbs over that.
Turned out, his birthday was only a few days later.
My hobby is wish fulfillment. I like making people’s dreams come true. We had to make this birthday cake for my friend’s nephew. There was simply no other option.
The cake layers are adapted from (you guessed it) an Alice Medrich recipe. Instead of chocolate pudding, the center layer is Dave’s usual chocolate mousse. When we first made the cake, we covered it in chocolate ganache and cookie crumbs, but in this version we layered the ganache and crumbs between the cake and mousse layers, and covered the cake with whipped cream instead. To lighten it and cut the sweetness. Really.
Now, part of what I love about Dave is that he will throw himself into these projects with me, trying to make some kid we barely know have a dream come true for his birthday.
The rest of what I love about Dave is that when he scraped the cream fillings out of the Oreo cookies so he could crumble only the cookie bits for the cake, he collected all the cream filling in a small container and brought it along to give to the kid, too.
Follow this chocolate mousse recipe, but only make half a mousse. Spread the mousse evenly in a 9″ round cake pan, and let it cool in the fridge, then freeze until solid.
While the mousse is freezing, make the cake.
2 C sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C sifted cocoa powder (personally, I dislike Dutch process!)
1 C lukewarm water
1/2 C buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C granulated sugar
1 C packed dark brown sugar
Preheat your oven to 350º.
Get out two 9″ cake pans, and line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and sift onto a sheet of wax paper.
Whisk together the cocoa and 1/2 C lukewarm water, and set aside.
Combine the buttermilk, 1/2 C lukewarm water, and vanilla extract, and set aside.
Whisk the eggs together briefly, just to combine all their bits.
Beat the butter until creamy. Continue beating as you gradually add the sugars, until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Slowly beat in the eggs. The mixture should be fluffy at this point. Beat in the cocoa mixture, just until combined. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, also just until combined. Same deal with half the buttermilk, then another third of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour.
Pour the batter evenly into the two pans and spread nice and flat. Bake about 20 minutes, or until done (that is, when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
Make a thin, liquidy ganache with chocolate, cream and booze of your choosing.
Scrape the cream out of about 10 oreos and discard (or give to the nearest kid). Crush the cookies.
Assemble the cake: one layer of cake, a layer of ganache, a layer of cookie crumbs, the frozen mousse layer, more ganache, more crumbs, the second layer of cake. Coat with whipped cream.
I actually love the cake recipe on its own. If I ever had to make a plain chocolate cake, this (sans mousse &c) would be it.