I am the designated birthday cake baker normally. And I love it this way! All through out college, I always prepared the birthday cakes for my friends and roommates when a birthday rolled around. For me, it was not most important to have Jell-o shots for the party, but a birthday cake! Granted sometimes I made a compromise and made a cake with liquor for a 21st birthday. This did not always go as planned. One memorable cake was so strong we ended up serving it in shot classes. No joke. My friend Nidhi had requested something with fruit, so I made a pineapple upside rum cake. The rum somehow took over the whole cake.
Since moving to Germany, my sister has had to take up the reins of baking the birthday cakes for the family. But that doesn’t mean I am off the hook. She still has me search out the recipes for each cake. For my mom`s last birthday, I put together several recipes to come up what can only be called a Chocolate Monster Cake. It is a mound of chocolatey wonderfulness. It is a two layer chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse filling and a chocolate ganache topping and a little toffee on top for a crunch. My bf saw photos of my mom’s cake and immediately requested that as his birthday cake for the celebration with the family. Then the cake was requested to be made again for his birthday party the next weekend. Then my work colleague had a taste of the leftovers and promptly requested this as her birthday cake of choice when I asked what she wanted. I am slowly trying to introduce the Germans to the tradition that you do not bring your own birthday cake on your birthday. It is so crazy here. On your birthday, you are expected to bring the cake and pay for dinner for everyone say if you go out for a birthday dinner! The cake recipe was then requested multiple times in the office after I brought it in for my colleague’s birthday. I have made this recipe a quite a few times now and without a doubt every time the recipe is requested. I hope you enjoy it as much as everyone else seems too! It is a chocolate lover’s dream!
Choco Monster Cake (aka chocolate cake with mousse filling and ganache topping)
This decadent cake is not nearly as intimidating as it might look at first glance by the long list of ingredients. I promise. Try it out! First step is too make the cake rounds. I used the following recipe from Ina Garten on FoodNetwork.com. I have shown the recipe below with metric measurements and few special notes for my German friends.
1 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (400 g) sugar
3/4 cups (85 g) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder (this is an American recipe so use more, use 1 1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (240 mL) buttermilk, well shaken
1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil (I used Sonnenblumenöl oder Rapsöl)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (can use a package of vanilla sugar instead, if you don’t find vanilla extract)
1 cup (240 mL) freshly brewed hot coffee
8 ounces (226 g) of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups (355 mL) of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powder sugar
4 ounces (112 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (90 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp (14 g) butter
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line two 8 in (24 cm) round cake pans with parchment paper. (I only have 1 cake pan, so I just bake them one at a time.)
Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry just until barely mixed. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, again just until ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until cake is now longer doughy in the middle. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
For the mousse
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. In another bowl, whip the cream and sugar until it holds its shape. Fold half of the cream into the chocolate until mixed.
Fold the chocolate and cream mixture into the remaining whipped cream, incorporating thoroughly. If mousse seems to runny/liquidy, put it in the fridge for a little bit to thicken and then spread between cake layers.
For the ganache
Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat on stove. When just starts to boil, remove from stove and immediately pour into bowl with the chocolate. Let stand without stirring for a few minutes. Then stir gently with a whisk or fork until smooth. Then spread over the top of the cake. If you would like, you can then sprinkle the toffee pieces over the top of the cake.
Store cake somewhere cool. Can be made a day or so in advance. I find it tastes better the next day after baking.