Thursday, June 23, 2011

Harry's First Birthday Cake: Chocolate Layer Cake

As the storm raged outside, Harry counted down the minutes until his birthday. Not knowing that when the clock stroke 12:00Am he would be meeting a half-giant named Hagrid, learn about his parents, and realize he was a wizard. Not to mention receiving his first birthday cake, and what a tasty first birthday cake that would be.

"Anyways Harry," said the giant, turning his back on the Durselys. "A very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here, I mighta sat on it as some point, but it'll taste all righ." From an inside pocket of his black over coat he pulled out a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.
(Doesn't it look yummy?)

When most people hear the word cake, especially chocolate cake, the reaction is usually..."Mmm" while drooling over the spectacular images in their heads. As it so happens, I am the weirdo who is impervious to the "chocolate cake's" effects. I am just not a cake person. I prefer pies, brownies, ice cream, things like that. So you may be wondering, why make the cake? Well, besides my oath to make every recipe in the book, my boyfriend likes chocolate cake and his birthday was coming up.

So I thought to myself. " could be fun making a cake! I'm doing it! So determined to make his birthday as special as possible on a small pocket book, I set out to plan a surprise night out with our friends and make him a birthday cake. This happened to be the first time I had ever made a cake, but I'm glad I picked this one. It was pretty simple to make, although I didn't realize I should stand over the oven to check to see if it finishes baking before the specified time, (mistake). The cake didn't burn, but it was a bit dry. As it so happens baking is not my strong point, in most part it is because of the whole concept of time (which I have a major problem with anyways.) and the fact is, that cake will dry out easy as well as other things if you don't watch them carefully!

I made this cake (secretly) while at home watching the Harry Potter Marathon on TV, you know the one that was going to air the first sneak peeks of the new Deathly Hallows part 1 trailer! (I think it was a world premier) Either way, I had a blast watching Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone while making this cake and eating the icing as I was watching the movie and quoting the lines (I know, major dork, right?). It was an awesome thing to make this cake while watching the scene to this movie.

The next night, all of us piled up in my car and headed to a really cool Irish pub about an hour away. It happened to be really warm that night and we had the cake in the floor board covered up so the birthday boy wouldn't see. To make a long story short, we had to leave the cake in the car because we had to park in a garage and walk a couple of blocks to get to bar. We had a great time and didn't get back to the car until several hours later. This cake is super awesome! I don't even like cake and I like this one. The Icing is very creamy, which literally melts into your mouth Mmm...With this said, this cake is a rich heavenly delight that does NOT need to be in a warm environment. The icing started to slide down the cake a little bit, and the wording was completely gone by then, but it still looked good and tasted great! So my advice is keep it cool and it will be nice and pretty. On the other hand, it was made by Hagrid, so its made to look a little messy and homemade looking :) Well, I really hope you try this one out because it is really good! So good, that I made it the other day just to eat! funny right? Well, Happy Cooking!

Trivia Question: What are the three unforgivable curses?

Chocolate Cake
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8ounces) butter, at room-temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces chopped bitter sweet chocolate (I used the chips for convenience)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup corn syrup

Chocolate Frosting
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter (I use unsalted for all my recipes)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 of the above chocolate glaze recipe

Green Icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Water to form a paste
Green food coloring

1. To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated and scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the hot cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir on the slowest speed until combined. Finish by scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula and folding it in. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, (mine didn't take as long, so keep an eye on it.) until the cakes feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Be careful, as this cake over bakes easily. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.
4. To prepare the glaze, place the chocolate, heavy cream, butter, and corn syrup in a bowl and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Cool the glaze until it is thick but still pourable.
5. To prepare the frosting, place the butter, confectioner's sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides as needed, about 7 minutes. Add half of the cooled glaze and beat until combined. If the frosting is too soft to spread, chill for 10 minutes and beat again. Chill another 10 minutes and beat again if necessary.
6. To make the icing, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to the confectioners' sugar and mix to form a thick paste. Work in food coloring to tint it to the desired shade of green. (remember, it is better too thick, than too thin)
7. To assemble the cake, place one layer top-side down on a cardboard round. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting over the top over the cake and smooth it to the edges. Place the second layer top-side up over the first and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Pour the remaining glaze over the cake and smooth it to the edges, allowing it to drip unevenly over the sides. (If the glaze is too stiff, warm briefly in the microwave and whisk to distribute the heat evenly. You may need to wait again for the glaze to cool.) If you have any frosting left, use it to pipe a decorative border around the bottom of the cake. Place the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a #3 round tip and write "Happy Birthday Harry" on top of the cake. The cake will look homemade. It's supposed to; Hagrid made it!

Serves 16

Tip: Instead of a pastry bag, you can use a sandwich bag. Snip off a small hole in one corner, fill it with the icing, and squeeze it through the hole.