Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chocolate-covered Strawberry Cake

Let's talk quarter-life crises. We all have/have had them, right? Those moments/hours/days/weeks where you question every move, every decision, every selection. When it spirals out of control, beyond "What am I doing with my life?" so that even the question of whether to order a veggie bowl or a veggie salad at Chipotle seems like a life-or-death choice.

Well, friends, those days can be cured with a quarter-life cake.

My friend's boyfriend decided to throw her a surprise birthday party last weekend. He asked if I could somehow put a quarter on the cake, since she had joked about being a "quarter of a century old." I said I'd try-- and then started panicking.

Here's a sneaky pro decorating tip: print out a free coloring book page online. It makes everything so much easier. I traced it onto parchment paper, placed it over the fondant, and cut into it with a knife, layer by layer, to make the quarter. Then I painted it with a mixture of silver luster dust and water. Boom.

So many candles... So much life still left to live!

You can find the recipe for the chocolate cake over here -- it's my go-to . I tripled the recipe-- one for each layer. Then I went to town with the frostings-- a whipped chocolate ganache and a strawberry buttercream.

The cake melted a bit in the warm weather... a delicious, gorgeous mess.

Happy birthday, Nicole!

Note: For the frosting, I doubled each batch, and added strawberry preserves as a filling between the layers along with the frosting.

Dark Chocolate Whipped Ganache

Adapted from Alton Brown

8 oz heavy whipping cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream until just shy of boiling. In a separate bowl, place the chopped chocolate; pour the cream over, and stir until smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Place in fridge, and chill for 30-45 minutes.

Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Crank the mixer up to medium-high speed, and beat the mixture until fluffy and lighter in color. Eat a spoonful, then frost the cake!

Strawberry Buttercream

Adapted from the Complete Magnolia Bakery

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry preserves

In the bowl of a mixer, combine half the sugar, butter, almond milk, and vanilla; start out at slow speed until mixed, then raise the speed to medium for 3-5 minutes. Slowly add in the rest of the sugar at a lower speed, then the strawberry preserves. Chill the frosting for 15 minutes to make it easier to work with.

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