Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Mini Chocolate Birthday Cakes

My Mini Chocolate Birthday Cakes:
Four layers of chocolate cake with three different fillings
(from top to bottom: cocoa whipped cream, mascarpone
frosting, and French silk pie filling) and then topped with 
a dark chocolate ganache.
First of all, yes, this is a complicated recipe. It took me most of Saturday afternoon to complete these little cakes, and I had already baked the cake the night before. Consider yourself warned...
Now that you've been warned, I'll tell the tale of these fabulous little cakes. The administrative staff of the high school my husband is VP at had their "Christmas" party last night, and so I decided that I needed to make something to wow them. This is a group of people I've baked a lot for, so I didn't want to go with anything boring. At first I thought about making My Chocolate Birthday Cake because it is so very delicious, but cutting a large cake can be so cumbersome and messy. And I'm never sure how large to make the slices. I don't want people to feel obligated to eat a large piece, but I don't want to be skimpy either.
So this is what I ended up with. I was a little afraid they'd turn out ugly because that happens sometimes when I have high hopes for a new idea, but you know what? They turned out really cute, I think; and they're just as delicious as the original full-size cake. The taste is super chocolatey and very creamy. The thin layers of cake are really just a vehicle for the yummy creamy fillings. 
When the hostess asked what the cake was called, I wasn't sure what to tell her. The original cake has such a funky name. I don't even remember what I told her last night, but I'm calling them "My Mini Chocolate Birthday Cakes" for now. There's probably a better name, but I don't have the time, creativity, or unction to think of one at the moment.
Again, this is a complicated recipe, but if you're up for it, they are well worth the effort.

My Mini Chocolate Birthday Cakes

Cake Ingredients (adapted from :
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Cake Enhancer (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cake Instructions: Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Prepare a 13 x 18 inch half sheet pan by buttering and flouring the edges and spraying the bottom with non-stick cooking spray. Then line the very bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit it exactly.  Into a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, sift flour with ground chocolate, cake enhancer, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add butter and 3/4 cup buttermilk. Beat on low speed to combine ingredients. Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on low-medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat additional 2 minutes.  Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake at 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a couple of cling-ons. Take care not to under-bake this cake. Set pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. You can do this the night before and cover cake tightly until the next day.
Cover the top with a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. Place a cutting board that exceeds the edges of the pan on top of the parchment/wax paper covered pan and invert the cake onto the cutting board. You will end up with the sheet cake on top of the paper on top of the cutting board.
Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, carefully cut out circles of cake, getting in as tight as you can so as not to waste cake. Remove the scraps as you go along (and save them for later). You should end up with 24-28 circles. I ended up with 24, 2.5 inch circles and 4, 2.25 inch circles. The smaller ones were the samples we tried at home before taking them to our dinner party. (Also be sure to set the cake scraps aside so you can make a little trifle using the leftover fillings and cake.)
With a serrated knife, carefully slice each circle in half to create two layers from each circle (I told you this was complicated).
Cover cake with plastic wrap while you prepare the fillings.

French Silk Pie Layer Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, but cool
  • 1/4 cup white C & H sugar
  • 11 unwrapped dark chocolate Dove Promises (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
French Silk Pie Layer Instructions (adapted from  
            In a double boiler, melt Dove Promises about 2/3 of the way.  Remove top of double boiler and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside to cool further.  I recommend cooling until the chocolate starts to thicken slightly so that it won't melt the butter and will be firm enough to withstand the next cake layer on top of it without smooshing out the sides.
            Cream butter.  Gradually add sugar, creaming well.  Blend in melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 4 minutes after each addition with an electric mixer on medium speed.  
           Scoop silk pie filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip. Either start the layering process* now, or place in the refrigerator while you prepare the other fillings.

Mascarpone Cream Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Mascarpone Cream Frosting Instructions:  In a mixer bowl, cream mascarpone, vanilla extract & sugar.  Add cream and whip on high until stiff.  Scoop frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the cocoa whipped cream.

Cocoa Whipped Cream Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup powdered cocoa
  • 1/4cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot tap water
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
Cocoa Whipped Cream Instructions: In mixer bowl with a wire whisk attachment, mix cocoa, sugar & hot water, mixing to form a paste.  Allow to cool before adding cream.  Add cream and start mixing on low to incorporate cream into cocoa paste.  Stop the mixer and scrape the bow.  Mix on high until stiff peaks form. Scoop cocoa whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip.

Assembling the Cakes/*Layering Process:

Once you've made the French silk pie layer, you can start the assembly process. 

Take 12-14 cupcake liners and flatten. Place them on another half sheet pan, ready to receive the cake layers

Working with only two to four mini cakes at a time, place the top half of a circle top-down onto the center of a flattened cupcake liner. Pipe about a 1/4 inch layer of French silk pie filling onto that bottom cake layer, and place the other half circle of cake on top, bottom-up. It's kind of important to match the layers with their circles so you keep the height of each cake consistent. Repeat until you have twelve cakes started.

Pipe a 1/4 inch layer of mascarpone frosting onto each little cake and place another half circle layer on top, again taking care to use two specific cake circles for each mini cake.

Pipe a 1/4 inch layer of cocoa whipped cream onto the third layer of cake and top with the final layer, cut side toward the cocoa whipped cream. 

Ganache Ingredients:
  • 14 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Ganache Instructions:

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
In a small pan over medium heat, bring the cream and butter just to a simmer.  Pour cream over chocolate and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  
Stir to combine chocolate & cream.  
Spoon about a tablespoon or so of ganache on top of each mini cake and gently spread the ganache so it drips a little over the edges. If you end up with extra ganache, you can add more to each cake, or just eat it right then and there.

Refrigerate cakes until ready to serve.

Makes 12-14 mini cakes

I think this pic gives a better idea of the
size of the cakes. This was just before the
ganache was added to the tops.
You end up with more filling than cake,
but that didn't bother me at all.

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