Category Archives: Chocolate

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Baking Wedding Cakes – the tasting


When some friends of mine got engaged last year, I offered to make them cakes for their wedding assuring them that they would taste good, but probably not look perfect. Last Sunday we had a tasting! Luckily, we also had people over to watch the Seahawks game afterwards, so they were able to make a dent in the leftovers.

They had given me some ideas for cakes, fillings and frosting that they wanted to taste, so I whipped some of them up and our friend Michele helped me!

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Cake #1 was a pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon buttercream filling and cream cheese frosting. It was (almost) everyone’s favorite option. The Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake was taken from Bon Appetit and turned out really well. I used the same Cream Cheese Frosting from Smitten Kitchen that I used for Shannon’s birthday. In this case I left out the peanut butter and added an extra tablespoon of butter to compensate.

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The other cakes we tried were the wedding cakes Smitten Kitchen made a few years ago: Vanilla and Chocolate Layer Cakes. The frosting was a Swiss Buttercream Frosting.

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We then tried different combinations of fillings with the chocolate and vanilla cakes. We made a raspberry buttercream, cinnamon buttercream, german chocolate (pecan/coconut) filling, and a whipped chocolate ganache.

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The German Chocolate Filling is from David Lebovitz and was phenomenal. Later that week when I brought the leftovers into work, one of my coworkers offered to eat it with a spoon. We didn’t end of choosing it for the wedding, but I definitely want to make an entire German Chocolate Cake in the future.

The winner for cake #2 ended up being the Vanilla Layer Cake with raspberry buttercream filling. The raspberry buttercream came from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I took the Neoclassic Buttercream recipe from her cookbook and added some Raspberry sauce to it. I think Rose recommends 1/4 – 1/2 cup sauce to the whole recipe. Since I was just doing this for the tasting I only had a few cups of the frosting and added the sauce tablespoon by tablespoon until it had the right flavor.

Raspberry Sauce
Take one bag of frozen raspberries and cooked them on a stove top until they started to break down. Strain the mixture into a bowl and return the juice to the stove top and allow it took cook down a bit.

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Cake #3 ended up being the chocolate layer cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache. The recipe came from Faith Durand on the Kitchn and ended up being really delicious. By itself it’s a little bit bitter, but balances out the sweetness of the chocolate cake and the frosting.

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The other filling we tried was the cinnamon buttercream we chose for the pumpkin layer cake. I used the same Neoclassic Buttercream as the raspberry sauce and added cinnamon until it had enough cinnamon flavor (probably 1 T. or so). When I figure out the right proportion we’re using for the wedding, I’ll update that here.

We ended up choosing three main combinations: Pumpkin Spice with Cinnamon Buttercream filling and Cream Cheese frosting, Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache and Swiss Buttercream frosting, Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Buttercream filling and Swiss Buttercream frosting.

I’ll update more later when I figure out the exact numbers of cakes being made and the presentation! But for now we at least have the flavors!

Shannon’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

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I wholly admit that I can be a snob about cakes. I think everyone deserves a homemade birthday cake. Not from a box and not from a store. Unfortunately within my family, pretty much everyone’s birthday has a claimed cake maker. My sister is the baking expert in the family, so she’ll usually bake for my mom’s birthday. Then my mom will bake for my step dad’s birthday. Sam’s mom bakes one for his birthday. And so on and so forth. The cakes are ALL delicious, but it means that I don’t get to make birthday cakes very often.

Luckily, I have Shannon! She is more than happy to have me bake her a cake anytime, especially on her birthday. This year I sent her a few links to cake recipes I hadn’t tried before, but I knew this would be the winner even before she sent back her choice.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and it was honestly one of the better “fancy” cakes I have ever made. I usually make cakes pretty quick and don’t wait long enough for the cake to cool before frosting, so presentation is usually lacking even when the taste is delicious. I’m trying to do better in that regard, so I ended up doing a crumb coat on the three layers and letting it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then I frosted the rest of the cake and it frosted up wonderfully! I was able to get the smoothest frost that I’ve every done. I was really proud of it, but then I just covered it with a chocolate glaze, so it ended up not mattering!

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I really recommend this recipe and all of it’s components. The cake was extremely moist and not too rich. The frosting had a really great peanut butter flavor. And the glaze also came out really well. You could use one or all of the components to make a cake yourself, depending on how ambitious you are. Each component was fairly easy to make though, but it just took some time to put it all together. The end result was really rich, so definitely drink a glass of milk with it!

Happy Birthday Shannon! Thanks for letting me bake for you! I’m glad we were able to find a concoction that melded chocolate and peanut butter, thus satisfying all of your wildest cake dreams!

Nearly Flourless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

On the weekend we were invited over to a friend’s place for a pot roast dinner. I didn’t want to arrive empty handed, so I made Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts and Minds Cake. It only has a few ingredients (chocolate, eggs, butter, sugar, and a smidge of flour and salt) and it’s actually pretty close my family’s winning brownie recipe. Both come together quickly and are very tasty. That must be why I really like it!

Although it definitely came in second after the host’s delicious roast, it was still a winner among friends. This cake is sooo easy to make and has one of the highest deliciousness to effort involved ratios of any baked good I know. It’s a pretty foolproof recipe to try if you feel intimidated by baking. The only things you might mess up would be adding the chocolate mix to the eggs when it’s still too hot (you might cook the eggs!) or not cooking it the right length of time.

Here‘s the recipe again in case you missed it above!