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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.

You’ll need:
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 350ยบ.

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.

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16 Responses to “Chocolate Birthday Cake”

  1. Brilynn says:

    That’s the luckiest kid ever, an amazing birthday cake and the whites of oreos? Seriously, could you ask for anything more?

  2. Lisa says:

    Holy cow.. my birthday is in November!! I would be quite happy to receive that cake on my birthday (I’m probably have a heart attack from the excitement if you gave me the whites of the Oreo’s too.)

    I’m still on that quest for the ultimate chocolate cake.. this will be the next one I make and maybe I’ll have found it.


  3. novalis says:

    I actually think the ganache in the middle was a mistake, since it made the oreos soggy. They weren’t nasty — just not crunchy.

  4. Bea says:

    I so wish I could have a slice of that terrific chocolate cake! Nice story!

  5. Meena says:

    Oh my God, Danielle!!! I wanna grab that piece and run!! lol… it’s my b’day Sunday, so be sure to lookout to an email with my address, where I expect the cake to be delieverd! :)

  6. Alanna says:

    I might even actually acknowledge a birthday for a cake like that! (As for Dave, may his soul be ever so generous …) PS I have not forgotten you-know-what, just haven’t found the perfect something.

  7. Kristen says:

    Ummmm…my birthday is coming up. Can you make my wish of having this amazing cake come true?? Oh my…now I won’t be able to stop thinking about this. What a delicious idea!

  8. Yvo says:

    Haha, you said you’re in the business of wish fulfillment, and all the wishers came out of the woodwork… :)

    Sounds delish and I like your reasons to love Dave, heh. Mmm, it looks so good. I don’t even like chocolate or sweets THAT much but it looks divine. Mmmmm.

    PS It’s true, people always want to talk to me about food- I don’t really go around telling people I have a food blog, but my boyfriend does so when I meet his friends/coworkers they want to talk about restaurants, ask for recommendations, etc. all the time. It’s funny.

  9. You are right about having a food blog makes one popular…my sister cuts out recipes from local newspapers (in Malaysia) and save them for me and wait for my return, my mother and aunt are proud of me, and yes, I get some fan mails…hehe. It’s all good, as good as the chocolate cake you featured. ;)

  10. Muffin says:

    That is one lucky kid. The cake looks and sounds delicious.

    And now I love Dave, despite the fact that I’ve never met him, because anyone who thinks to collect the oreo cream filling for the birthday kid is one cool cat by me.

  11. Danielle says:

    Brilynn – I also want a boat. Um, and a pony.

    Lisa – Hey, come spend your birthday in NYC, and I think we can work something out.

    novalis – Oh, it was fine. Maybe more oreos for more crunch, though.

    Bea – Thanks!

    Meena – Deal. ^^

    Alanna – No worries. I hope you’re having fun with the urfa-biber, though!

    Kristen – Come visit, and we shall see.

    Yvo – I should have known I was asking for trouble. But if I can get all the wishers here at one time, it will take but one cake to make everyone happy.

    RM – Oh, that’s exciting, recipes from Malaysian newspapers. I wish I had fans like that. Who could translate for me, too.

    Muffin – After reading about all your childlike glee and fun in the kitchen, I just know that you and Dave would hit it off and end up cooking together within minutes of meeting, if ever you do.

  12. Nabeela says:

    wow, thats the chocolatiest(if thats a word) cake ever! What a lucky kid to get this cake as a gift!

  13. arfi says:

    anything from chocolate, I’d like to have a piece, pleaaaaassseee!!!

  14. Enthusia says:

    I need to stop reading your website at work. This is truly killing me.

  15. Wow – catching this a bit late – but that kid must have freaked out! It’s not everyday that you get your dream cake on your birthday! The cake looks fabulous – I want a slice of chocolate cake now!

  16. I tried this chocolate cake recipe some days ago but somehow couldn’t get the same result as you, my cake really wasn’t looking that good (atleast it tasted good). What kind of chocolate are you using? Maybe it’s because of the flour I used, i’m gluten intelorant so I used millet flour instead of normal wheat flour.

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