Thursday, January 29, 2009



Yes, yes, truth be told, yesterday was indeed my birthday. But older? Naw! Who you kidding? What’s that old, creepy and very dated saying? “She’s not getting older, she’s getting better!” * sigh * as he looks at her adoringly…..

Who me? Older? I think not!

But though, after a certain * ahem * age we dread birthdays, who doesn’t love a party? Or the attention? Or the gifts! I certainly will never scoff at any of those! And this year was no different (okay, so I never have a party… at least I get lots of attention and at least a few gifts).

Well, at least as the baker in the family I get to choose my own cake. For years I have been making Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chestnut Cake made with chestnut flour, which I just adore. But even frosted with our favorite chocolate buttercream frosting, they just don’t get it!

So this year, I returned to an old favorite of mine : a deep, dense, dark devilish chocolate cake spread with the chocolate buttercream and filled with a slightly bitter coffee-flavored whipped cream. Oh so decandent!


1 ¾ cup flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk or buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsps vanilla
1 cup boiling water, coffee, fruit juice or a combination of water and something else

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Oil and flour two 10-inch round cake pans generously.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I whiz them with the electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds until everything is well combined.

Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on low until well blended then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

Stir in the boiling water (today I used about ¾ cup strong coffee with ¼ cup water). When I make a Forêt Noire, I use ½ cup juice from jarred cherries mixed with ½ cup water, then I use the cherries layered with plain, slightly sweetened whipped cream in between the two chocolate cake layers.

Carefully divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans – it will be watery.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until the center is set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes on cooling racks before turning them out onto the racks to cool completely.

Mine look a bit funny because I have one of those rinky-dink tiny French ovens and two round cake pans do not fit on the oven rack at the same time. I end up having to juggle the cake pans – up and down, back and forth – throughout the baking in order to make sure that each layer cooks fairly evenly and that neither burns. But that takes nothing away from their flavor! And I need a new oven.


1 to 2 cups heavy cream
4 tsps instant coffee or espresso powder
4 – 8 tsps powdered or confectioner’s sugar, depending on strength of your coffee as well as your personal taste

Make sure your glass bowl and beaters are well chilled.

Start whipping the cream on high speed until it starts to thicken, then gradually add the coffee and the sugar. Continue to beat until very thick. Put in the fridge until ready to use.

If you taste this now, it may taste too bitter or strange. True. But sandwiched in between the layers of chocolate cake gives an incredible, fabulous flavor sensation!


A little under 3 cups (11 ½ oz, 350 g) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
8 Tbs (120 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
2 oz (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbs boiling water

With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the cocoa powder and the boiling water and beat until the ingredients are completely and well blended and the frosting is light and fluffy. If it is too thin just pop it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Assemble the cake :

Put one of the chocolate cake layers on a serving platter. Spread the coffee whipped cream evenly over the layer, putting as much or as little as desired. (Any left over can be refrigerated for another use or served with the cake).

Carefully place the second cake layer on the whipped cream, then frost the sides and top of the cake with the chocolate buttercream.

I pressed – or attempted to press – chocolate sprinkles/jimmies all over the sides. Now, this may seem to be overkill, but hey it’s my birthday and I can do what I want! I also never claimed to be the Cake Decorating Queen and my attempts at anything fancy end up looking sorry indeed.

But this cake is so fabulously delicious, rich and decadent, chocolaty to the extreme without going overboard, as well as being so easy to make! The cake texture is close to one of a flourless cake, chewy, dense and moist. The coffee in the batter added to the coffee whipped cream just gives you a delicate coffee sensation in each mouthful.

Let’s just say that this recipe is my birthday gift to you! Who’s opening the champagne….?

And sorry for the quality of the photos; I am trying to learn how to use a new camera and photo shop them all by myself.....


Apples and Butter said...

Happy Birthday! Your cake looks delicious. As much as I love to cook, I make my boyfriend buy me an ice cream cake on my birthday. I had them as a kid and there's something about the nastalgia that I just love.

asiangrrl said...

I am trying not to lick the screen as I drool over the chocolate cake. Oops, I failed. I'm glad you had a fabu birthday. You deserved it.

Maryann said...

Happy Birthday!

Antonella said...

Happy Birthday!

janelle said...

ha---what a fabulous picture!

Maureen said...


Looks scrumptious, as usual. And that's coming from a true chocoholic. Hope the big day was fantastic!

dragonmom said...

I'm not a chocolate lover but even I think that looks great!

Happy Birthday to you...

squirrelbread said...

incredible indeed. a cake fit for a birthday. looking at the picture with the French baking products... sigh... i wish i were living there, too! have a lovely birthday week.

p.s. do you have a link to that chestnut cake?

cheers to you!!

Jamie said...

@ squirrelbread : I couldn't find a link to a recipe of the chestnut cake on-line. It is called the Chestnut Sand Cake and it is in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible on page 42-43 of the hardback edition.

I guess I'll have to make it again after all so I can post it here....

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday again! Your cake looks soooooo scrumtious! Please airmail a piece over here!

Hilda said...

And happy belated birthday!

Glenna said...

Happy Birthday, fellow Aquarian!

Do you have Rose's The Cake Bible? That's one of my FAVORITE cake books ever. Did you know she's in the process of finishing up another cake book? I cannot wait.

Great looking cake!

shellyfish said...

Happy Late Birthday! That cake has me drooling all over my keyboard!

Chef Chuck said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jamie, That cake is calling for me Yum!!


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