I realized today that May is a very birthday-heavy month as far as personal acquaintances go, and that before the month is out, I probably should check around just to make sure that I’m not missing anyone.
As I was thinking of all the birthdays popping up this month, I couldn’t help but wonder how each person would be celebrating. Sure, I know about the parties and the presents, but what I really want to know is what sort of treat the birthday boys and girls will be indulging in on their special day. Or instead, if they are somehow able to separate food and festivities, as I so clearly am unable to do.
My birthday isn’t swinging around until next month, so I’ll have to wait for my own celebratory delicacy, but the wonderful thing about being a self-proclaimed baker is that I can make something delicious for other people when it’s their special day, hopefully adding to their revelry (and perhaps sampling a little bit of the food-merriment, too).
While I was thinking about birthday cuisine, I remembered one particular cake that I once made for a special someone on his birthday, and the amazed reaction it received. I can’t recall the exact words that were used, but it boiled down to a very positive review of the cake and the effort it took to pull together.
This cake (not pictured) is from a Mrs. Fields cookbook that I’ve had for years, and I still take the book down from the shelf when I’m looking for a more distinctive dessert recipe. And the Double-Fudge Chip Cake is one of these selections; the name alone is quite striking. The procedure is slightly involved, and I know I was overwhelmed when I first read it through. But like any respectable cake, it is definitely worth the time and careful attention, especially when it’s given as a present on someone’s big day.
Yield: One 9-inch layer cake
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 ¼ c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 stick (½ c.) salted butter, softened
2 ¼ c. (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream
1 c. boiling water
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter, softened
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1 c. heavy cream
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
2. Make the cake:
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over hot, not simmering, water. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the brown sugar and then the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat at high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.
Beat in portions of the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
Stir in the boiling water and pour the batter at once into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched lightly. Set the cake pans on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto the racks to cool completely.
3. Prepare the frosting:
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, blend the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla until smooth. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix at low speed until blended. Place the frosting in the refrigerator until thick and firm yet still easy to spread, 20-30 minutes.
Place one cake layer upside down on a cake dish. Spread ¼ of the frosting on top and sprinkle with ½ cup of the chips. Add a second cake layer upside down and frost with another ¼ of the frosting and the remaining ½ cup of the chips. Add the top layer upside down and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.