Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mom's Birthday Cake (and homemade chocolate sauce)


It was my mom's birthday earlier this month, and what better present to give her than a thick slice of chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries? If you have been following the blog for a long time (or were at the birthday party) you might remember that I made a very similar cake for her 50th birthday last year! This is her favourite chocolate cake and her favourite cream cheese icing so why mess with a good thing, right? The same rings true for my dad's cake on his birthday: chocolate and peanut butter. Always. I love the fact that now I am able to bake my mom all her birthday cakes; it's only fair to slowly start paying her back for making so many great birthday cakes for me and my siblings throughout our childhoods. This year we just had a low key celebration at home with my grandparents, as opposed to the big 50th bash of last year, but no matter the size of the party my mom always manages to light up the room. Happy birthday (belated now) to an amazing woman who I will bake a chocolate cake for any day of the year - I love you!


Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk- If you don't have any buttermilk or sour milk then make your own by combining 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar with enough milk to make 1 cup and let sit for 10 minutes until it curdles.
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of three 8-inch round baking pans and then spray pans generously with a non-stick cooking spray. The parchment paper will ensure that your cakes come out of the pan easily, with none of the bottom getting stuck to the pan.
Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add in the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla, and beat with a mixer on medium speed for approx. 2 minutes. Note: The batter will be thin. Pour the batter evenly into prepared pans. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place pans on a wire rack and run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto the wire racks to cool completely, removing the circle of parchment paper.


Cream Cheese Icing:

8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
3-4 cups icing sugar (until it's the consistency and sweetness you like)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. milk (to thin if necessary)

Directions:

Cream together the cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth. Add in the vanilla and icing sugar, one cup at a time, until desired sweetness and consistency is reached. If you would like the icing to be more thin and spreadable, add milk 1 tsp. at a time.

Spread over cooled cake layers. This will only make enough icing to frost the cake as pictured. If you would like to cover the whole cake then I would recommend doubling the recipe.

This year I added a new element to her favourite cake in the way of a homemade chocolate sauce. This recipe comes from the amazing David Lebovitz (one of my baking/food idols) and it really is one of the best I've ever had! I was amazed that there is no butter or cream in it, but you don't miss it at all. It's a beautiful, rich, and pourable sauce that you can use for cakes, ice cream, fresh fruit, or even fancy hot beverages. Grand Marnier or another flavoured liqueur would also be a lovely addition.

Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it has just begun to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until completely melted. Allow the sauce to sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours so it can thicken up a bit before using. 

I used this sauce to pour over each cake layer and to decorate the top of the cake. Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, or freeze for up to one month. Rewarm and stir or whisk again before serving.

*Chocolate sauce recipe from David Lebovitz

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