Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Mom's Birthday Cake

The only request my lovely mom made for her birthday cake was "chocolate". Do you see where I get it from? The love of chocolate? Though a simple request in content, not necessarily simple in it's execution. Here's why: there is not a single chocolate cake I've ever had that I thought was out of this world. I'm talking about the actual cake part here. I've loved white cakes, lemon cakes, carrot cakes, coconut cakes and so on, but never chocolate. Perhaps the bar I've set is just too high, seeing as I love chocolate so, and there are so many amazing chocolate desserts out there.

After much recipe perusing, I decided to go with a Dorie Greenspan recipe. Dorie rarely leads me astray. For the cake itself, I chose the brownie cake from Baking from My Home to Yours. In the book it is paired with a caramel-peanut topping, though I went a different direction. I made a coulis from fresh blackberries and soaked the bottom layer of the cake with it. I topped that with a whipped ganache buttercream - the frosting recipe from the Sweet & Salty cake from Baked, minus the caramel. After adding the top layer to the cake, I covered the whole thing in a glaze from Baking from My Home to Yours that makes an appearance on top of the Amaretti Torte.

I found the cake better than the cake of the Sweet & Salty, but it still wasn't quite right. It was nice and dense, though not chocolatey enough. I think I overbaked it a bit, which I discovered after some research was a common problem with this cake - it was baked by TWD last October, before I was a member. Anyway. In the center it was perfect, but the edges were a bit dry. I brushed the cake with an agave-based simple syrup to try to combat the problem, but it wasn't entirely successful. I would like to try this cake again with more chocolate, and slightly underbaking it.

I topped the cake with more fresh blackberries, as it cratered in the center while baking. Had I read the recipe more carefully, I would have seen that Dorie warned this could happen, but in my haste, I just skimmed it. I trimmed the bottom layer so it would be flat, but the top worked nicely as a berry bowl.

The blackberries were a wonderful complement to the chocolate. I served the slices with freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of the coulis. It was wonderful. My mom loved it, as did the rest of my family.

Brownie Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 stick(8 TBSP) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 TBSP light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract

Butter and flour a 8 inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
To make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Melt chocolate and butter together using a double boiler.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. Pour the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.
Bake the cake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool he cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan. During baking the cake probably will have puffed to the top of the pan don’t be concerned if tit sinks a little or it if develops a crater in the centre. Cool the cake to room temperature.
When the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper. Wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right side up. Refasten the sides around the cake.

Blackberry Coulis
1/2 pint of blackberries
1/4 cup sugar

Blend until smooth in a food processor. Pour through fine mesh sieve.

Frosting (I used 1/4 recipe)
  • 1 pound dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat. Pour cream over chocolate. Let the cream and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and cream in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.

Chocolate Glaze (I used 1 1/2 recipes)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water

Put the chopped chocolate in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup or in a bowl with a spout.
Stir the cream, sugar and water together in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and wait for 1 minute, then, using a small rubber spatula, gently stir until the glaze is smooth, blended and shiny. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake and, with a long metal icing spatula, spread it over the top, allowing it to spill over the sides of the cake; then smooth the glaze over the sides. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes to set the glaze.


  1. that is an incredibly beautiful cake!

  2. Much better choice for the topping!! I was not a fan of this recipe at all (I don't remember but I may have liked it the day I made it, but looking back on it, it really wasn't any good in my opinion!), but I think the juicy blackberries are the perfect accompaniment! And the cake is stunning!

  3. yumm I think I might make this for my dad's bday on friday! He loves chocolate :)
    -Mini Baker

  4. Happy Birthday to your mom! What a goregous cake!! Brilliant use of BFMHTY. :) Chocolate and berries are such a nice match.

  5. Beautiful, what a wonderful cake for a chocolate aficionado. I thought the frosting from the Sweet and Salty Cake was amazing, good call making it without the caramel. The chocolate cake I used for the S&S (from Cook's Illustrated) was pretty good, but probably not something I'd make again. It will be an exciting day when you find the perfect chocolate cake!

  6. Beautiful cake - I love the blackberry coulis!

  7. I plan to make this with our lovely English blackberries, Tay or Logan berries. I'm going to experiment by brushing the cake layers with a soak made from either Frangelico (Hazelnut), Chambord (Blackberry) or St Germain (Elderflower) Liqueurs.


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