Ok, this post is going up a little later than I wanted but at least I made it before Easter – why is it when you *have* to get a post up on time that things invariably go wonky? I wanted to share this cake that I picked out from Martha Stewart Living’s special Cakes and Cupcakes edition, as it’s so apropos for the holiday.
I received a copy of this pretty publication and was invited to pick out a recipe to make from it. It’s filled with 50+ recipes for some of Martha’s prettiest cakes, illustrating a wide range of cake types and decorating styles. It’s more like a mini-cookbook than a magazine, and works nicely as a primer for a lot of cake-making and decorating techniques. You get some basic cake, frosting, and filling recipes, tips on tools and decorating techniques, and of course a gallery of beautiful cakes to inspire you to pull everything together.
The cake I chose was the Chocolate Cake with Truffle Eggs, which seemed fitting for Easter. It’s one of the less “decorated” cakes, with no frosting techniques required, but I figured I’d gotten my dose of cake decorating with my last cake. This cake is a heavy-hitting dose of chocolate – a basic cocoa-buttermilk cake layered with whipped chocolate ganache, and then covered with chocolate glaze. The “nest” is made from chocolate shavings, and then egg-shaped chocolate truffles dipped in blue-tinted white chocolate are placed on top. So, there pretty much isn’t anything not chocolate in the cake. Made with Valrhona 61%, it really hit my chocoholic spot – if I wasn’t worried about the side effects on the baby (and me) I might have eaten the whole thing!
The recipe makes a 7-in layer cake, but I decided to turn them into 4-in mini cakes instead. The recipe fills (4) 4-in pans perfectly, so you end up with four cakes – ideal for decorating a party table, or you can keep one for yourself guilt-free and give the other ones away. I also thought it would be cute to decorate the tops differently, so I made a couple of fondant chicks for one cake. I’m not sure if they look more like ducks than chicks, but it’s still pretty spring and Easter-themed, right?
Although the recipe looks long, it’s fairly stress-free to make, and it’s one of those multi-component recipe where you can make one part while the others are cooling, or setting up, etc. If you’re planning ahead, you can probably make the cake layers and eggs on one day, and then make the filling on the next day, and assemble and decorate right before serving. I even made parts of this with the baby strapped to me – and I didn’t get any chocolate on her!
Happy Easter, everyone!
Note: I received a copy of cakes and cupcakes from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.
- adapted from Martha Stewart's Cakes and Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting pans
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whipped Ganache Frosting
- 8 oz semisweet to bittersweet chocolate (I used 61% Valrhona), coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 68% Valrhona), finely chopped
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces
- 1 1/2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- gel paste food coloring in sky blue
- luster dust, optional
- 1 pound bar of milk chocolate
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- 8 oz (227 g) semisweet chocolate (I used 61% Valrhona), finely chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray (2) 7-in x 3-in round cake pans or (4) 4-in x 3-in round cake pans with nonstick spray and line bottoms with parchment paper. Coat parchment with cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and espresso powders and the water, and whisk until dissolved.
- Whisk in sugar until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
- Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until combined.
- Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until cake tester comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes (check sooner for smaller cakes). Transfer pans to wire racks and cool 20 minutes, then unmold and let finish cooling completely.
For the ganache frosting:
- Put chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan.
- Pour cream over chocolate and add salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth and shiny, being sure to scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Let cool to room temperature, stirring often, until thickened, about 45-60 minutes.
- Scrape ganache into bowl of stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until paler in color and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Use immediately.
To assemble the cake:
- Trim tops of cake layers to level them. Place one layer cut side up on wire rack set over parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Spread a layer of ganache frosting over the cake layer. Place another cake layer on top, cut side down. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides to form a crumb coat. Repeat with other cake layers if you are making mini cakes. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 15 minutes.
For the truffle eggs:
- Place chocolate and cream into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and remove heat. Stir in butter until fully melted and incorporated.
- Pour ganache into a loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and set but still pliable, about 2 hours.
- Using a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop balls of ganache, transferring them to baking sheets lined with parchment. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
- Use your hands to roll each ball into an egg shape. Freeze 1 hour or until very firm.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Divide chocolate between two bowls.
- Tint chocolate in one bowl blue with food coloring. Add a few drops of food coloring to the other bowl and swirl with a toothpick.
- Dip half the eggs, one at a time, into the blue chocolate, then dip the rest of the eggs into the swirled chocolate. Place dipped eggs on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate eggs until set, about 1 hour. Brush eggs with luster dust if desired.
For the chocolate nests:
- Using a chef's knife, scrape chocolate bar at a 90-degree angle to form enough curls and shards to measure 1 1/2 cups. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the glaze:
- Place chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to combine.
- Pour cream mixture over chocolate. Let sit for 10 minutes, then whisk until smooth and shiny, being sure to scrape bottom of bowl with a flexible spatula. Use immediately.
- Pour glaze over the top and down sides of cake(s). Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- To finish off the cakes, top each one with a nest of chocolate shavings, and fill with truffle eggs.