Anyone else sometimes feel like a professional klutz?
I've fallen down stairs. I've fallen going *up* stairs. I've actually tripped on 100% flat linoleum flooring. I've caught the edges of flip-flops and sandals on countless steps and almost eaten dirt *tons* of times. I drop things. I break things. I tip things over and spill them.....
....and actually, sometimes that last one is the worst. I work in a hospital, and there are a lot of things in that environment that just shouldn't be spilled. :/ Off-topic tangent, sorry.
But as much as I'd like it to be otherwise - and I know I'm not alone in this - klutz is kind of a part of who I am, and precautions against it have sort of wired themselves into my daily routine. Anyone else? I favor shoes I don't tend to trip in. I put things where I can't spill them or put lids on them.
And every odd while.....I channel that klutziness into cakes where I can turn a 'DANG IT' moment into 'hey, that's actually kind of cute!'
Not going to lie; getting to turn something I dislike about myself into a cute baking project makes it feel like there’s *some* redeeming quality to my stupid-level-chronic-clumsiness. Recipes/instructions below! 😊
My current favorite chocolate cake recipe from How to Cake It with Yolanda Gamp is below - although two boxed cake mixes (I doctor mine up by replacing oil with butter, water with milk and vanilla extract, and adding an extra egg) will do as well in a pinch 🙂
2 2/3 all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, or spray thoroughly with baker's cooking spray with flour.
Put the cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring 3 cups water to a boil, then carefully measure exactly 2 cups and pour over the cocoa powder and whisk until completely smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add the eggs, two at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary.
Add the flour mixture in four parts, alternating with the warm cocoa mixture in three parts, beating just until each addition is incorporated before adding the next; do not overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
Cool for 10-15 minutes before removing cakes from pans; then set aside on cooling racks to cool completely. Set in the fridge to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
If you want to fill the center of your cake with M&Ms and chocolate chips, use a glass or medium-sized biscuit cutter to remove center from two of the three cake layers. (It works best to do this once your cake layers have cooled; they’re much more likely to crumble if you cut them when they’re warm.)
Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
1 cup cocoa powder
6-7 cups powdered sugar
4-6 Tablespoons milk
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
Chocolate ganache drip:
12 oz (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
12 oz (1 ½ cups) heavy whipping cream
Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky.
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
(Insert any extra decorations/toppings here)
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, bench scraper, and piping bag with a star tip - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful!
- 1 large bag M&Ms candy (I bought the ‘shareable’ zip-top size bag)
- 1 small bag or box of M&Ms candy (about 1 1/2 cups - I bought a large bag and used about half of it)
- chocolate chips (I used Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers - if you've cut centers out of two of your cake layers, those will be your bottom two layers. Fill the empty centers of your cakes with M&Ms and chocolate chips – I used the M&Ms from my box first since I needed it empty to use it as a decoration on top of the cake. Add a layer of frosting over the second cake layer, and put the final layer on top.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer 😉
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
Okay - ganache drip time!
I used a semi-sweet chocolate ganache for this cake – I found a squeeze bottle worked the best for this ganache since it’s fairly runny until it sets, but I’ve used a piping bag for similar drips before. Make sure your cake is chilled - I think I left mine in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, and I've heard putting your cake in the freezer for 10-20 minutes is a good way to make sure your drip sets well. Slowly drizzle the ganache around the upper edge of the cake, pausing every inch or so to let drips of ganache run down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge to set the drips.
To add the finishing touches to your cake, put the remainder of your chocolate frosting into a piping bag, and pipe swirls of frosting around the upper rim of the cake – I alternated large with small swirls for a little more texture/variety. Place an M&M on top of each frosting swirl.
Now the fun part – the M&M box! I cut one of the small tabs from the side of the box I wanted angled closest to the cake, so that I could easily slip three small wood skewers into the box. Press the skewers down into the cake until your box is at the desired height- I left mine about an inch off the top of the cake. If any of your skewers are still visible, pipe on some frosting to cover them. Add M&Ms to the top of the cake – I went a little crazy at this part since I had frosting swirls around the rim to hold everything in place! 😉 Add small bits of frosting and more M&Ms and chocolate chips around the base of the cake if you’d like, or you can leave them off for a more simple finish.
Editors note – I made this cake for my mom’s birthday party, which was the evening of a day I was scheduled for a 12-hour shift, so I put it together the evening before and left it in the fridge overnight. Once it was out and coming to room temperature, the change in temperature made the M&M colors turn a little bit whitish and less bright. Just a note in case your assembly is time isn’t right before serving time – you may want to add the M&Ms to the top of the cake right before you serve it. 😊
And that's it - you're done! High-five yourself 🙂
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 🙂