Niffler Cake

i. freaking. love. the niffler. 

So if you haven’t seen the movie “Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them” (set in the Harry Potter world of J.K. Rowling), then let me catch you up 😉 Otherwise this Niffler cake will make NO sense to you.

'Fantastic Beasts' begins with the arrival of the wizard Newt Scamander in New York with a briefcase containing many magic creatures (‘fantastic beasts’). Though he can hide them from the eyes of anyone looking in the briefcase, one creature – the niffler, a small black furry creature attracted to shiny things – manages to escape into a bank. Later on, Newt catches the niffler attempting to raid a jewelry store as well – nifflers love collecting huge piles of shiny things. 😉  

….sometimes the thing that *makes* the movie for me is a random side character. Anybody else? 😉 Buuuut I digress.

When I found a store near me that was selling chocolate ‘gold coins’ in bulk…. I *couldn’t* resist. I HAD to do it. 😉 I borrowed a stuffed Niffler from my sister, and – this cake!  Pretty sure my husband was laughing at me squealing “THIS MAKES MY GEEK HEART SOOOOO HAPPY!!!!” from the kitchen.  I was SO excited when this cake came together!

Recipe below!

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Niffler Cake Layers

2 ¼ cups (350g) all purpose flour
2 ¼ cups (450g) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup (100g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (350mL) buttermilk (buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Of note...you'll need a kitchen scale if you want to measure ingredients in grams.

Instructions: 

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 325 F (160C) for a convection oven. Grease 3 8-inch cake pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible. 

Next, add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.

Fill the three pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.

Black Cocoa Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
5 ½ -6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup black cocoa powder
4-6 Tablespoons milk
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
- 2-3 drops black gel food coloring
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with cocoa powder and milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla, food color, and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
Note – frosting’s color will deep if left to sit for several hours or overnight – this lets you get a deeper color with less gel food coloring!

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
- Large piping bag & tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others! 
- Stuffed niffler – I can't find them at Hot Topic anymore, but they’re available here on Amazon
- small cup or bowl – I didn’t want to get frosting all over the Niffler or Niffler fur on the cake, so I used a bit of tape to hold him on top of a small straight-sided bowl.
- Gold decorations! I used gold and silver sprinkles, Hershey’s gold chocolates, chocolate gold coins, and some foil-wrapped chocolate caramels I found at agrocery store - they're seasonal but Rolos would work!. I also cut apart a gold Mardi Gras-style necklace (super cheap at a craft store) and draped that over the decorations when I was done piling them on.
- gold or silver luster dust, about a teaspoon of vanilla extract or vodka, and a new/food-safe paintbrush – if you want to color your ganache drip
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 

Assembly:

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 and sprinkle with gold and silver sprinkles. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.

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.

Black Chocolate Ganache Drip:

- 6 oz (1 c) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 6 oz (3/4 c ) whipping cream
- 2-3 drops black gel food coloring
Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Add whipping cream and microwave on half power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth. Stir in gel color. 

When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I've  just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.  You can also cover the top of the cake in ganache, but it won’t show under the decorations so that’s up to you! 
This step is optional (and a bit time-consuming) but if you’d like to color your ganache drip – once the drips are firmly set, mix a teaspoon of luster dust with a teaspoon of an alcohol-based extract or vodka and carefully paint the drips with a food-safe paintbrush.

Decorating: 

To decorate the cake, place the niffler on top of the cake on top of a small bowl or cup to keep the fur off the ganache. I used a piping bag and black frosting to hold gold coins in place to hide the cup.
Decorate the top of the cake with allllll the gold/silver/shiny decorations you’d like – I added a few around the base of the cake as well wherever they fit around the drips. Add on some gold and silver sprinkles and a few beads if you'd like! 

Take a picture and send it to all your geek friends!! Yelling to whoever might be listening about how excited you are about your cake from the kitchen as you finish it is optional, but I definitely did and highly recommend it! 

Make this Niffler Cake? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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