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Birthday Chocolate

March 11, 2013

Every year I try to honor Melissa on her birthday, and Lord knows the girl loved chocolate. On Sunday, Donovan and I made some extremely good chocolate cake for her birthday today, and it was extremely good.

First we started with some ganache frosting because it needed to cook and thicken for a few hours.

1 c heavy whipping cream
1 stick unsalted butter
⅓ c granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate
¼ c double-strength brewed coffee
vanilla extract

This frosting isn't some light and chocolate-flavored butter cream frosting, this is a serious under taking. It starts with an entire pound of good quality semi sweet chocolate. Chop it up, but don't let any fall on the floor to the hovering dogs who will not stop hovering.

Put the heavy cream and butter into a pan over low heat and stir until the butter is completely melted. Remove it from the heat, and then dump in all of the one pound of chocolate and stir until completely melted. Add in the 1/4 cup double strength brewed coffee and vanilla extract (supposedly 1 tsp of vanilla, but as Donovan puts it: we don't measure vanilla in this family).

Let the whole thing cool for about two hours, or until it thickens enough to be spreadable. I sped this up by putting it in the refrigerator after an hour because I am impatient and wanted the chocolate in my mouth. Don't be like me.

Now let's get going on the cake.

2 c sugar
1.5 c flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ t salt
4 oz good quality extra dark chocolate, chopped
1 c hot double-strength brewed coffee
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ c sour cream, room temperature
½ c vegetable oil
vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Crisco the insides of two 9" cake pans that you received as a wedding gift from your first marriage when you were 19, then flour them. In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Panic because you don't have any super dark or unsweetened chocolate in the cabinet and this never happens. Who has been into the unsweetened chocolate? Throw some accusatory glances at Mitzi, the only non-adult in the house tall enough to reach that shelf in the baking cabinet.

Consider making another trip to the store, but consider the current blizzard and slushy/icy roads and pull out some semisweet chocolate chips instead. Point a finger at Mitzi and say menacingly, "This is your fault, Moodles."

She likes being called Moodles.

Whisk the chocolate into hot coffee until it's completely melted.

In the KitchenAid stand mixer, combine the eggs, oil, sour cream, and (a teaspoon and a half? whatever) vanilla. Whisk everything until combined. Stir in the chocolate and coffee mixture.

Add in the flour mixture in three batches, waiting until each batch is combined and no lumps remain before adding the next batch. Seriously, lumps are not okay. They're fine in pancakes and waffles and whatnot, but lumps do not belong in cakes. Shun. SHUN.

At this point I recommend licking the paddle. But if you're a teenager you might complain about it tasting too much like coffee, so feel free to rip it out of the teenager's hands and keep it all for yourself.

Gain some composure, and split the batter between the two cake pans that you have had for at least... do some math... 12 years. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the pans sit on racks for a half hour, then run a knife along the edge of the pans and remove the cakes to the wire racks and cool them complete.

But just because the toothpick comes out clean doesn't mean the cakes will come out clean. They will come out terribly unclean and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. So it is written. Have the following conversation with your husband:

"I'm throwing out this stupid cake pans. I need new ones."
"Don't we have a million cake pans?"
"No. We have three 7" cake pans and two crappy pie pans."
"So why do we need more?"
"Because I brought these into the relationship and now they are crappy."
"Why did you bring crappy cake pans into our relationship?"
"Maybe our relationship is what made them crappy."

Frost the whole sucker anyway. It won't be the prettiest cake, but there is 1.25 pounds of chocolate in it and it will make the baby Jesus cry if you let that go to waste.

Let the cake sit at room temperature for at least two hours to let the flavors combine. Overnight is even better for flavor-melding, but the baby Jesus understands two hours is enough torture as it is.

Serve in thin slices with vanilla ice cream. Melissa would have loved it.

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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