Category Archives: Cake

Six Word Sunday: 8/21/11

Get the Oshawott Cake to Maine!

Better Than Sex?

Friday night was my dear friend N’s birthday party, a beer and cheese themed birthday party! I thought well, play to your strengths, woman! bring a cheesecake!

What cheesecake to bring, though? So I flipped open my go to cake book, The Whimsical Bakehouse. I read this on page 46:

A customer once said our Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake was better than sex.

Friends, that it is mighty claim, indeed. Gauntlet? Thrown.

Here’s what I ended up doing, screw ups included. The results? Quite a few people who read here ate some. Your comments will be appreciated. I dunno about better than sex, myself, but it was pretty damn good.

Thanks, Fibby, for both of the photos!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

1 Package Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1/4 c. + 2 T. sugar
4.5 oz. melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10″ x 2″ springform pan. (If you’re me, your springform is 9″ x 2″ and you just plunged merrily ahead.) Wrap the bottom and outside of the pan in foil and set it in a large, deep roasting pan.

Put the cookies in a ziplock bag, seal it, and smash the bejeezus out of it with a rolling pin or saucepan or frying pan or meat tenderizer (not the pointy kind, the flat kind!).

Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl and blend until moist. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of and about an inch up the springform pan. Set this aside while the oven preheats and you make the filling.

1/2 c. heavy cream
2 T. instant espresso powder
2 pounds cream cheese
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 1/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips

Heat the cream in a small saucepan to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the powdered espresso. Let the mixture cool a little while you whip the cream cheese.

In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone on medium speed until it’s smooth and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl thoroughly and often. Reduce the speed to low, and add in the warm cream, beating to incorporate, scraping often. One at a time, beat in the eggs, beating only until they are incorporated into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. (If, like me, you flagrantly ignored the pan size recommendations, you will have about an 8 oz. take out container’s worth of extra batter. Your spouse may or may not eat this raw.) Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the batter, and swirl them into the batter with a butter knife. Fill the roasting pan about 1″ full of hot water, and pop the whole thing into the oven. Bake for 70 minutes, or until the top of the cake looks just set and doesn’t wiggle too much if you gently nudge the pan.

Take it out and let it cool for at least 2 hours. Chill it overnight for the cool, dense texture that makes cheesecake so very divine.

About twenty minutes before serving, make the ganache.

4 oz. dark chocolate, rough chopped
4 oz. heavy cream

Heat the cream to a simmer in a small pan. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let the hot cream melt the chocolate. Whisk the mixture until thick and combined. Let the ganache stand for a few minutes until it’s body temperature or cooler.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan, then release the springform sides. Pour the ganache onto the center of the cake, and gently smooth it across the top, allowing just a little to drip over the sides.

Dish it up with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday!” and two dozen craft brews to taste!

Four Years Ago

Since I’m off actually being employed today–yikes!– I’m bringing back an old post. Enjoy!
The original post can be found at

Let Them Eat
June 18, 2006


My friend Alex and his fiancee, Kara, were married yesterday in gorgeous Waitsfield, VT. It was like a storybook – late afternoon ceremony by the pond, frogs gulping from the water, local, artisan food, a historic round barn on a mountain farm… ::sigh::

And a wedding cake by CDG’s Cakes! (the specimen above was a creative choice by the married couple: my Perisan Genoise sponge cake with chocolate creme patissiere and fresh strawberry filling and Italian mousseline buttercream. Special thanks to the folks at The Blue Toad for coming through with a last minute flower order!)

Mark and I stayed up the road “a fer piece” at the The Wilder Farm Inn which was cozy and charming, and had the largest pancakes I’ve ever seen (Bickford’s Big Apple excepted).

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

I have bookmarked more posts by Deb at Smitten Kitchen than any other recipe/cooking site out there. Her choices are interesting, her advice practical, her photos luscious. A few days ago, she posted a recipe for Root Beer Float Cupcakes (go, read, drool, and come back), and I knew I had my dessert offering for his weekend’s cookout with our friends the Loser Family.

Here are my thoughts before beginning:

  • We have to bring this in the car, so I’m opting out of the perishable toppings. Also the hostess loves sugary, grocery store frosting (yes, I love her enough to forgive her that), so I bought a squeezy can of vanilla “buttercream” frosting (go big or go home, no?).
  • I found root beer at Trader Joe’s that had ingredients I could pronounce-BONUS!
  • Buying maraschino cherries & canned frosting more or less negates the pronounce-ability of the root beer. Meh.

They baked up beautifully. I got a full 24, versus the 22 that Deb got. I’m never going to complain about too many cupcakes, though.

The flavor is… subtle? Yes. Subtle. If you’re wolfing them down, you might miss the spicy root beer in the finish. I’m curious to find out how the kids like them. I might consider starting with 2.5 cups of root beer reduced to 2 cups, in an effort to pump up the root beer flavor, since I’m definitely not going to be buying root beer schnappes on the internets any time soon.

They are certainly pretty!

Birthday Cake & Surplus Frosting

I had a commission this weekend to do a birthday cake for a friend’s mother. She turned 60, and my friend and his family threw her a surprise party. This is apparently, the year of 60th birthday cakes. Anyway, I was told cake for 20 or so, the Smitten Kitchen Best Birthday Cake, and mocha frosting. It was also mentioned that she likes lilacs, so I riffed a little on that, but in a modern, elegant, feminine-without-being-girlish kind of way.

Then I found myself with tons of extra mocha frosting. Boo hoo, poor me!
What to do with two cups of spare mocha frosting? (Besides sitting down with a spoon and a Colin Firth movie?) Bake chocolate cupcakes!
Ta da!

My Friends Tigger & Pooh, the Super Sleuth Cake

Yesterday we celebrated Felix’s birthday, and as he is an afficionado of the Playhouse Disney animated series, My Friends Tigger & Pooh (warning, if you love AA Milne and Ernest Shepard, do NOT click on the link), I did his cake based on the colors and “Super Sleuth” logo favored by the show. Add some birthday candles and a set of figurines I picked up on sale at the Disney Store, and we have a cake with toppers you can keep and play with!

The recipes are all from The Whimsical Bakehouse, by Kaye and Liv Hansen, one of my favorite books on cakes. I did 10″ tilted “mini” birthday cake, with chocolate butter cake, cookies and cream filling and vanilla Italian buttercream. Yum!

Looks like a success to me!

Shark Cake!

Every August, I bake a cake for my godson’s birthday. (Well, not last year, but that was because he was gallivanting around France. As you do.) Every year, he gives me a theme, and I run with it. Three years ago, it was dinosaurs. This year, it was sharks. Ferocious, right?

Let’s start with the cake. It’s a near constant thing, the search for a perfect cake recipe. One that never fails, that tastes delicious and stays moist, that pleases multiple palates. I’m thinking I’ve found one over at Smitten Kitchen!

This was an easy one, just a rectangular cake, decorated with a shark diving Playmobil set – a cake with decor you can keep and play with!

Tipsy Birthday Cake, a three day Odyssey

My dad turned sixty a few months ago, and to celebrate, my mom took him to see Peter, Paul & Mary in Hartford. A pretty cool birthday gift, as they are one of his favorite performing groups. What he didn’t know was that she planned a big surprise party for him, for three months later.

Aside from helping her to collect RSVPs, I was charged with assembling a playlist for the party, focusing on all the music my dad loves, and with making him a birthday cake.

The party was scheduled for Sunday, July 5, which gave me the whole long weekend to work on it.

On Friday, I baked the cakes, and froze them overnight (frozen then slightly thawed cakes are easier to slice for layers). What you see here is a thin 12″ vanilla square, to be sliced into two layers and used as a pedestal, two 10″ chocolate rounds, one thicker, to become three layers, one 8″ chocolate round, one 6″ vanilla round, one 4″ chocolate round, and two 2″ stacks, each to be three layers cakes. Normally, I’d wrap the cakes in plastic and foil to store them in the freezer, but these went in late Friday night, and came out Saturday morning, so I didn’t worry about it.

Saturday was frosting day. I started with the vanilla Italian meringue buttercream for ringing and crumbing the cakes, since it’s the most labor intensive, and I needed the largest quantity.

Sugar syrup coming up to temperature.
A pound and a half of cubed butter, a cup of egg whites, and vanilla extract.Meringue in the mixer.

After that, chocolate fluff buttercream and raspberry buttercreams for the fillings, and a second batch of vanilla for coloring and decorating the tiers. I got all six tiers ringed, filled, and crumbed, as well as colored before calling it a night. With a little shuffling, they all even fit in the fridge!

Sunday morning, Mark helped me rig a box to transport the partially assembled cake and additional tiers, and we packed up our stuff and headed west to my parents’ house.

Between the stake I drove through the bottom three tiers, and the front flap of the box, and some judicious application of parchement paper, all six tiers arrived unscathed, and I set to work assembling and decorating.

Here’s the finished cake, tilting its way up six tiers of yumminess!

An Evening at Wedding Camp

Guess who got to bust out the stand mixer and whip up ten dozen cupcakes for wedding camp? No. It’s not Felix. And yes, those are Lego people and a Lego dog on top of the cupcake of honor.
A dear friend got married to a great woman this weekend, at a gorgeous camp in southwestern New Hampshire, and I got to spend some quality (though far too short) time with a few other good friends while I was there. I was sad to have to go home before the end of camp, but I had much fun while I was there.

When Your Carrot Cake Collapses

I meant to post today about Felix’s first birthday party. You know, all those pictures of the baby all covered in chocolate frosting, and up his ears in wrapping paper. I still plan to, but today I want to tell the story of my cousin’s carrot cake, and how it ended up looking like this:

Half eaten, in a bowl.

I offered to make a cake for my cousin’s bridal shower, not really taking into consideration the fact that Felix’s birthday was the day before, and obviously, I was going to want to make him a cake too.

A month or so ago, I asked my cousin what kind of cake she wanted. She answered carrot. I said, “Okay!” I baked the cakes a few weeks ago and stowed them in the freezer. This morning, I whipped up the cream cheese frosting, defrosted the cakes, and sliced them for layering. I was merrily stacking, filling and crumb coating the cake when disaster struck!

Half the cake sheared off! It just collapsed.

I shimmed it with extra cake, reinforced it with skewers, and refrigerated it to try to stem the weeping frosting and slumping cake slabs. Alas, the cake was doomed.

Like any overextended mom, I lost my mind. I called my mother, who was also co-hosting the shower, and burst into tears. She’s a cool cucumber, my mom, and just offered to pick up something from a local store. She told me to take a deep breath, a shower, and to get myself to the party.

I hung up the phone, and headed upstairs for that shower. I turned around, though, when I realized that I could just up end the cake into a trifle bowl, pack in the remaining cake and frosting, and make the top pretty. Voila! Carrot cake trifle! Voila! Happy cousin!

Upon reflection, I think the structural collapse had to do with the soft, moist consistency of my carrot cake recipe, the thin layers, and the lack of structural integrity inherent in cream cheese frosting, even when it’s a 1:2 ratio of butter to cream cheese and made with an Italian meringue base. I will adjust my methods next time. I leave you with this image of my lovely cousin, resplendent in her ribbon and bow finery, pretending to throw the “bouquet.”