To me, birthday cakes are serious business. They are my favorite part of any birthday celebration and I usually start planning them weeks in advance. Growing up, everyone in my family got their favorite cake on their birthday, which for me meant strawberry short cake. I think it was an extra way of making the birthday boy or girl feel special and like it was truly their day because their favorite cake was featured. I have taken this value of making the birthday boy or girl feel special from my childhood and really incorporated it into my adult life. Whenever it is someones birthday I want to make them feel special with a sweet treat that they love.
The most convenient person to do this for is Danny, my fiancé. Mainly because I have super easy access to him on his birthday since we live together. This year Danny's birthday fell on Easter and in the middle of COVID-19 quarantine, so I really felt like his cake had to be special!
A few words about Danny before I continue onto the cake. Danny and I have been together for five years now, and we are getting married in May of 2021! Danny is the true ying to my yang. He balances my crazy type A personality while still cheering me on and encouraging me to do all of the things I want to do. Like this blog for example. Danny keeps our life together fun, he is down for any adventure big or small but also loves nothing more than a movie night at home with some snacks. Our favorite thing to do together is to go to Met's games, we've caught a few foul balls together, but have never been featured on the kiss cam!
Every April for the last five years, I ask Danny what type of cake he wants for his birthday and every year his answer is always the same. Chocolate. When I press him for more details like, what icing, what filling, anything special toppings? He just keeps saying chocolate over and over again. Sometimes he will throw me some sort of bone an say, "I like the chocolate crunches from ice cream cakes", but thats really it. His thirst for chocolate is almost impossible to quench, but I think this cake does the trick!
Danny's super chocolatey birthday cake is a moist, rich, chocolate cake that really puts its best chocolate foot forward. You will immediately taste deep rich chocolate flavor that stands well on its own, or with the icing of your choosing. Personally, I think that many chocolate cakes are dry and don't pack enough pure chocolate flavor so I really made sure that this recipe is both moist and flavorful. Since I am dealing with a chocolate lovers birthday cake, I will be using a chocolate ganache frosting for the cake. However, I feel that this cake can be iced any way you'd like. My top 3 suggestions, other than the chocolate ganache frosting recipe I have put below, are vanilla, caramel, or mocha buttercream.
This super chocolatey cake has a few ingredients that might lead you to scratch your head and say "why the hell is she making me put this in a cake"? Ingredients such as coffee and sour cream are not in most cakes, but are very important to this chocolate cake recipe. I promise you will not taste them once the cake bakes. Coffee is added to this cake because coffee helps bring out a true rich chocolate flavor. Sour cream is added to the cake batter to keep it moist! Trust me, these two ingredients make a world of difference in this cake. I hope you notice the difference and love it when you bake this at home. If you can read this recipe and crack a few eggs, you can make this chocolate cake for the chocolate lover in your life.
Ingredients for the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
2/3 cups butter, softened (This is about a stick and 1/3)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8oz sour cream, full fat
3/4 cup coffee, hot
To Make (cake layers):
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two nine inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Alternatively you can grease the pans with butter.
2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Cream together butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer or using a hand mixer. You want the butter and brown sugar to appear light and fluffy, this takes about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Next, add in vanilla.
6. With the mixer on low add 1/3 the flour mixture, followed by 1/3 the sour cream. Beat until just combined. Repeat until all flour and sour cream are added. Do not over beat your mixture, this will make the cake dense as opposed to light and fluffy! The cake batter might appear very thick at this stage, don't worry the coffee will thin it out to proper consistency.
7. Pour in hot coffee and mix, until just combined.
8. Pour batter evenly (or as close to even as possible) in your cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake should bounce back when lightly touched in the center and the edges should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. You can also stick a toothpick in the center to check its doneness. If it comes out clean you are good to go! If it comes out with batter on it, bake for five more minutes and check again.
9. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes, then flip them out on a wire cooling wrack and cool for at least 45 minutes. DO NOT TRY TO FROST A WARM CAKE, YOU WILL MELT THE ICING!
Ingredients for chocolate ganache frosting:
16 oz (2 bags) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
To Make (chocolate ganache frosting):
1. Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl (heatproof please) over a pan of simmering water, your flame should be low on your stove. It will look just like the photo below at first, but don't worry it melts down to beautiful silky chocolate ganache.
2. Stir the mixture gently but constantly, until it is melted and smooth.
3. Remove bowl of ganache from the pot and let cool on your counter for 10 to 15 minutes. Then place it in your fridge to cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Pour cooled ganache into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. And whip on high speed for five to seven minutes. The ganache should fluff up, double in size, and turn a light milk chocolate color.
5. Alternatively, if you don't have a stand mixer, pour ganache into a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer instead.
6. If after the five to seven minutes your ganache does not look light, fluffy, and milk chocolatey, place the mixture into the fridge for another ten minutes and whip again!
7. When frosting is done, use it to frost the cake! It is silky and easy to work with! Put some frosting on a cake layer and spread it around evenly, then stack the next cake layer on top and frost the top and sides!
8. You can also choose to add decorations to the side. I used sprinkles for a festive birthday look, but the cake looks great without them too!