Monday, January 18, 2016

Three Cakes for the 3-Year-Old

My sweet daughter Evie is lucky enough to have a December birthday. She just turned three-- her birthday a week before Christmas Eve. We had a little friend birthday party, dinner and cake with my family, and finally, a month later, dinner and cake with my husband's family. Three cakes! I guess it was appropriate, since she turned three.

The friend party cake was Frozen themed. Chocolate cake with blue vanilla frosting, white chocolate sparkly snowflakes, and drippy white icicles trimming the sides.

The second cake was simple, and I didn't even take a picture of it. It was a gingerbread cake, dusted with powdered sugar. Lovely for around Christmastime. I used a Farm Journal recipe, and baked it in a 12 inch round pan.

The third cake was much debated. at first she said she wanted a Doc McStuffins cake. Then My Little Pony. Then something about Cinderella. We looked at some pictures on Pinterest, and finally decided on chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling, frosted with ganache, and topped with fresh raspberries. I even let her choose a character/toy to put on it as decoration (hence, Olaf). I adapted the Black Midnight Chocolate Cake recipe from my Betty Crocker book, subbing dark cocoa for regular, made up a recipe for the filling, and adapted this chocolate ganache recipe. I think it turned out pretty amazing. I tested tiny bits of everything but couldn't eat a piece of the finished product (I'm still not eating dairy while nursing my FPIES baby). At least no one complained, and it looked beautiful.

So here are some recipe notes. When you reduce the raspberry puree in the filling, the flavor intensifies, and the texture of the buttercream is preserved as you cook out most of the water in the berries. It also ends up a fantastic color (see the picture at the end of the post). The ganache has browned butter in it. Not really sure that it added anything, since chocolate is such a strong flavor already, but it sounds fancy when you tell people about it. Browned butter anything is so hot right now... And really, avoid stirring the ganache for five minutes after adding the cream, or the texture will be compromised. I baked the cakes and made the raspberry reduction Saturday afternoon, made the ganache Saturday night, and did the rest Sunday afternoon. The ganache was the perfect consistency after sitting overnight. Everything went together perfectly.

Black Midnight Cake

2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2⁄3 cups sugar
2⁄3 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1 1⁄4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1⁄4 cups water
3⁄4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and mix on low speed 30 seconds. Mix on high for 3 minutes, or until well combined. Bake in two 9-inch round pans, lined with parchment paper and greased, at 350 for 30 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely.

Raspberry Buttercream Filling

1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cream

Puree raspberries and strain out seeds (I like to use an immersion blender). Add strained puree to a small saucepan with granulated sugar and lemon. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced. Be careful not to let it burn, and adjust the heat as needed. Puree should yield 4 tablespoons of reduction. Set aside and allow to cool to room temp (or make ahead and refrigerate).

Beat butter, cream, and vanilla in mixer until light and fluffy. add in reduced raspberry puree and powdered sugar, and mix at medium-high speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. This recipe makes enough filling for two cakes.

Chocolate Ganache

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter. Stir it frequently, and you'll know it is done as soon as the milk solids at the bottom of the pan are brown. Pour butter over chopped chocolate. Add cream to that same saucepan, and heat it just to boiling. Add hot cream to chocolate/butter. Allow ingredients to sit undisturbed for five minutes, then add salt and whisk until smooth and glossy. Cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the ganache, and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Cake assembly:

2 layers Black Midnight Cake
1 recipe Raspberry Buttercream
1 recipe Chocolate Ganache
Fresh Raspberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting.

Trim the tops of the cake layers so that they will stack evenly. Lay the first layer on your serving plate, and pipe a ring of ganache around the edge to act as a dam for the filling. Spoon a generous amount of the raspberry buttercream onto the first layer and spread it evenly within the ring of ganache. Stack the second layer on, and cover the cake with ganache. I used a frosting knife to make vertical lines on the side of my cake. Top with fresh raspberries, washed and dried. I used an entire clamshell of fresh berries from Costco to cover the top of my 9-inch cake. Dust the top lightly with powdered sugar.

All that was left after the party- check out that red raspberry filling! No food coloring needed.