Tag Archives: Chocolate cake

Banging birthday cake.


My dear friend Mo had a big birthday last month and I got to help out with some of the details for her party. We had it at a nice lounge right in Central called Hush. I loved that they had an outdoor patio.

I baked a ton of cupcakes and did a four-layer, sour cream fudge layer cake from and topped it with a chocolate glaze because I wanted that shiny finish. Chocolate and purple are Mo’s favorite. This was the first time I’d done a cake wrapper, but it worked out so well. It’s a nice way to hold a layer cake together during the windy cab drive down to Central and it covers up imperfect layer matching.

I ordered personalized M&M’s and had them forwarded from my MyUs address. I think the heat caused the text to peel a bit, but no one could really tell in the dark! A little confetti goes a long way…

The DJ Eve Speciall was awesome.

The birthday girl is to my left.

And all the girls!

I was thrilled with both how the cake looked (glazing is my new favorite alternative to labor-intensive and OCD-aggravating frosting) and tasted (the perfect dense, moist, silky combination) so I’ll share the recipes with you below.

Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake from Cook’s Illustrated

1 cup natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder , or instant coffee
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs , at room temperature
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Note: Sour cream gives this cake its smooth, rich chocolate taste with a dense yet melting texture, almost like fudge. Since this batter rises higher, make sure to use 9-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. It is best not to refrigerate this cake, but if you do, cut it while cold, then let slices come to room temperature before serving.

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch round baking pans with shortening. Line pan bottoms with waxed or parchment paper; grease paper as well. Dust pans with flour; tap out excess.

2. Mix cocoa and instant coffee in small bowl; add boiling water and mix until smooth. Cool to room temperature, then stir in vanilla and sour cream.

3. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 30 seconds. Gradually sprinkle in sugar; beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating 1 full minute after each addition.

4. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. With mixer on lowest speed, add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to batter, followed immediately by about 1/3 of cocoa mixture; mix until ingredients are almost incorporated into batter. Repeat process twice more. When batter appears blended, stop mixer and scrape bowl sides with rubber spatula. Return mixer to low speed; beat until batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between pans. With rubber spatula, run batter to pan sides and smooth top. Bake cakes until they feel firm in center when lightly presesd anad skewer comes out clean or with just a crumb or two adhering, 23 to 30 minutes. Tranfer pans to wire racks; cool for 20 minutes. Run knife around perimeter of each pan, invert cakes onto racks, and peel off paper liners. Reinvert cakes onto additional racks; cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Glaze from Williams & Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking

12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup

How to glaze:

1. Place the cake on a cooling rack set on a half-sheet pan. Make sure that the glaze is 92 degrees F before you pour it. If it’s took cold, warm it up slightly over hot water. If too thick and warming doesn’t thin it, sir in a few tablespoons of melted butter.  Pour the glaze onto the cake.

2. Immediately tilt the rack back and forth until the glaze covers the top and falls evenly over the sides. (This is so fun and so much easier than a buttercream and spatula ordeal.)

3. Using an icing spatula smooth the top and sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and repeat with a second, more perfect, glaze. Tilt to cover. Don’t use a spatula on the second round. Let the cake sit until the glaze sets up.

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Everything but the kitchen sink, part four.


  • Model Martha. I had no idea that Martha Stewart used to be a model… for Chanel among others. Discovered this surprising factoid on Sensibly Luxe.

  • Up. Have you seen the real recreation of the house floating from balloons from ‘Up’? It’s so fun! Spotted on Ten Thousand Places.

  • Eva Braun. Crazy, personal, never-before-released photos of Hitler’s mistress (the one who killed herself with him). Surprised to see that Hitler’s love appeared to be quite fun–and even practiced yoga!

  • Homemade bagels, croissants, goldfish, graham crackers, and granola bars! I had no idea this was even possible, until my kindred spirit Darcy starting chronicling her kitchen adventures (as well as other fun things) on her new blog Garden of Eden. Hong Kong has no good bagels to speak of (even though Press Room imports them daily from New York… it’s still a 17-hour-flight, so how fresh can they really be?) so I think I may try those first!

  • Simple chocolate cake video. Today was kind of a depressing day… after a nice day yesterday, we’re back to lots of grey. BUT this cheery recipe video from Elephantine turned my mood right around. I can’t wait to try this simple dessert! Yay for desserts without layers, frosting, or crazy multiple steps. Make sure you turn the volume up for the happy music.

Image from Elephantine.

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