Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blackout Chocolate Birthday Cake


I don't find myself with much time to make huge celebration cakes very often anymore these days, but I did put this one together for a friend's birthday over the summer. The only thing I knew about his dessert preferences was that he loves chocolate, because every time we'd go walking their dogs, he'd order a chocolate sundae with chocolate brownie pieces and more chocolate fudge on top at the local ice cream stop. So, hence the invention of what I deemed, the true blackout chocolate birthday cake. Like this one, with moist black chocolate layers of cake and dark chocolate fudge frosting and embedded chocolate chips and cacao nib brittle on top, is truly a sentence of death by chocolate. Everyone needed milk, but it was glorious.

In other notes, I've been finding myself avoiding blogging recently, mostly because time constraints on the tenure track keep me from "perfecting" blog posts. Sure, I've still been cooking and making fantastical desserts, but I haven't had time to write down recipes and create picture-perfect set-ups with brand new props and mood lighting each time. In fact, I've just been living and cooking in real life. Which is kind of a refreshing change of pace. It's freeing, to cook creatively and spontaneously without having to note down every minutiae, but I miss the blogging aspect, the interacting and sharing with you all part.

So here it is, the start of a new chapter in the blog: the imperfect chapter. This is now going to be Desserts for breakfast: the notebook, the journal, the not overly-crafted diary. There aren't going to be perfectly written recipes. Instead, I'm going to share a glimpse into how I normally write down recipes for myself: jotted notes, lists of ingredients. Because cooking ultimately shouldn't be about following a recipe to a t. Cooking should be about following such finely-honed instincts that you have about flavors and textures and tastes to make a recipe your own. And then sharing it with others.

So sorry but I'm not sorry for the casual tone this blog is going to take on from here on out. It's going to be this way because blogs, like everything else, need to evolve. To grow. To develop. And so this is the phase in Desserts for breakfast life where we learn to love the imperfections. Where I learn to share just because that's how people connect. Where I figure out how to live parts of my life contently, to value what's in front of me, rather than always trying to make every action serve some purpose of getting ahead. Because there's enough of that rat race for my career. And dessert should just be about dessert.

Elements of the chocolate cake
for one three-layer 8-inch cake

for frosting
227 g (8 oz) bittersweet (68-72%) chocolate, chopped
2 Tbpsn light corn syrup
43 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

1. Place the chopped chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in the bowl of a double boiler over simmering water. Heat and stir just until melted. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a separate pot just until boiling with small bubbles. Remove from heat and stir into the melted chocolate.
3. Let sit and stir occasionally until the chocolate has come to room temperature and is of spreading consistency. (You can speed up the process by putting it in the refrigerator, but make sure to keep a close eye on it and stir it regularly--it will set up and become too hard to spread if left too long in the fridge!)

for cake
600 g sugar
100 g rye flour
100 g whole wheat flour
113 g AP flour
135 g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tspn salt
2 1/4 tspn baking powder
2 1/4 tspn baking soda
3 eggs, at room temperature
150 g coconut oil
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup hot coffee

for brittle
1 cup sugar
1 cup roasted cacao nibs
1 tspn chocolate salt, or 1 tspn flaked salt


  1. Such a rich and gorgeous cake! I am in love with that frosting!!

  2. I totally get where you're coming from on the blogging front -- it's so easy to get caught up in the pressure to be perfect! I'm excited about the new direction! :)

    P.S. This cake looks SO good!

  3. Hallelujah. I'm sure we loved your before, but I'm definitely digging the after.

  4. "living and cooking in real life." I absolutely love this and I'm looking forward to the new direction. There've been times when I baked or put together a great meal and felt guilty about not having my camera near by and then posting about it. I almost felt like I was cheating on my readers. Thank you so much!

    1. Yes! The cheating on readers guilt is such a good way to put it.


I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!