03 October 2008

Birthday Season


We are just wrapping up a season of birthdays at my house. My family all takes a turn, within a couple of months, claiming the spotlight and choosing a cake to celebrate their special day.

This year we enjoyed a fantastic variety of cakes. From store bought to elaborately home made, from huge layer cake to single serving cupcake, from simple old fashioned favorite to a new and unusual recipe. I felt like we covered a wide range of delicious possibilities as we celebrated this year.

Chocolate Favorites

Still one thing stood out among this variety of cakes - most of them included chocolate in the recipe and several were chocolate through and through.

I have shared a couple of the cakes already. An Oreo Cookies and Cream Cheesecake is a great way to celebrate a birthday with a crowd. It consists of a creamy vanilla flavored center in a chocolate crumb crust layered with chocolaty Oreo cookies and topped with a rich chocolate ganache glaze. In my experience almost everyone likes cheesecake. Add to that the nostalgic appeal of Oreo cookies and an intense chocolate topping and this cake is a gem for many special occasions. It is not too complicated and makes an impressive presentation.

Nigella’s Honey Chocolate Cake is another fantastic choice for a crowd. It is also festive, fun and delicious. I love the vibrant flavor of the honey and the way it complements the rich chocolate. And then, of course, there are the cute little bees on top.

A Cake from Rose's


For my daughter’s birthday, she chose a fabulously decked out French Chocolate Cake from the dessert case at Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery. This was the perfect cake for a last minute gathering when everything came together to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with out of town relatives. The cake looked so deliciously tempting that my five year old niece could not keep her fingers out of it long enough to get the candles lit!


My only regret was that we didn't invite a few more friends to celebrate. This cake was such a monster that with twelve of us present, and house guests staying the following week, we still couldn't finish it all.


Another Chocolate Sensation

I made still another chocolate cake for a group celebration during the season. This time I settled on Chocolate Stout Cake, a recipe I had tried once before. It was cut from the food section of "The Oregonian" some years ago. It sounded moist and delicious and called for a chocolate ganache frosting rather than a layer of frothy buttercream. To add contrast I added another layer of the cream cheese glaze from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guiness Cake recipe and drizzled it on top. With the addition of some cute H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y candles it made a bright and festive birthday statement. Even better, the cake tasted every bit as good as I hoped it would.


Chocolate Stout Cake
(from "The Oregonian")

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ tablespoons instant coffee powder
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups stout ( I used Rogue Brewery's Chocolate Stout)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a Bundt pan or two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a medium sized bowl thoroughly combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla and coffee powder at high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture, oil and stout in 4 parts, alternating between the flour, oil and beer.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the Bundt cake for 40 to 50 minutes or the round layers for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.

Remove cake from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove cake from pan and cool completely before frosting.


Chocolate Ganache Frosting

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream

Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream just to a boil over medium-high heat.

Pour cream over chocolate and stir until melted.

Set bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the consistency of maple syrup.

Pour or drizzle frosting over cooled cake to coat.


Nigella's Cream Cheese Topping
(from Nigella Lawson's "Feast")

8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat cream cheese until smooth.

Add confectioners' sugar gradually and continue beating until incorporated.

Add the cream and beat until fluffy. Add more cream as needed to reach desired consistency for drizzling.

Place frosting in a ziplock bag and seal. Snip 1/4 to 1/2 inch from a lower corner of the bag and pipe in a back and forth motion over the chocolate glazed cake.

Enjoy!

9 comments:

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

All of those cakes look beautiful, but I'm so impressed with yours! You did a fantastic job with the decorating!

noble pig said...

These look amazing. I love chocolate stout cake, it has such a great flavor!

Happy Herbivore! said...

wow.

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

My mom made everything from scratch when I was a little girl so a store bought cake was the big treat and what we all wanted for our birthdays. Rose's cakes are good but they don't compare to something home made. I have to try the chocolate stout cake.

the southern hostess said...

Yum! These all look incredible!

Grace said...

clearly, i would devour each of those. even that behemoth from rose's wouldn't stand a chance in my presence. i like the way you folks celebrate birthdays. :)

Gypmar said...

I just found out about your blog, the most useful information I have gleaned from the Camas-Washougal Record since moving here this summer. I have to agree with stickygooeycreamychewy; YOUR cake looks fantastic. I just might ask my husband to make it for me for my upcoming birthday!

nicisme said...

I could eat all of those, but I'm sure I would like yours the most!

Robin Sue said...

This cake is wonderful, what a great thing by adding the cream cheese frosting and the ganache. Faint!