Monday, October 25, 2010

happy birthday, DAD!

cake all-nighter!
what do those words mean?
much like a regular all-nighter... this is what happens when you procrastinate. but don't get me wrong, this is definitely a more enjoyable, tastier experience than hitting the books til your eyes bleed...

i know my dad loves chocolate and peanut butter... i know this from his love of reese's. i thought about making this cake "fish-themed" but i feel that i have overdone this in the past... many fish shaped cards, letters, gifts, etc... nobody can love fish that much :)

after looking over recipes for cake pops (little cake balls covered in candy coating and served on sticks, cute!) i thought about the idea of mixing cake crumbs and frosting.. where else could i apply that idea?

"i can make a cake with a heart inside!", i thought, here goes nothing..

peanut butter loaf
so have you any clue how hard it is to find a decent peanut butter cake recipe? i mean just peanut butter, not peanut-butter-chocolate cake, there's a million recipes of those online. and most certainly not one involving boxed cake mix, there were plenty of those recipes floating around as well. i looked at one from paula deen, but it called for a lot of graham cracker crumbs (and shortening..really?) and to be honest her recipes weird me out a little sometimes.. can't put my finger on it perhaps i'm a bit put off by her creepy doll-like manner and devout love of mayonnaise and all things saturated fat. ehhh anyways.

instead i made up a recipe of my own, it's posted below and it worked quite beautifully! a pleasant surprise. i wanted the cake to be dense in order to hold its form inside the cake as a heart.

when it comes to chocolate cake, and i want simplicity over something fancy, i love the hershey's deep dark chocolate cake recipe for high altitude. it's wonderful, reliable, impossible to mess up, and at this point is my "go-to" for chocolate cake in a pinch. i've linked to it here but i'll post it again below to make things easier for you!

as with any kind of all-nighters, this cake all-nighter involved cheap, unhealthy food. i craved hot and salty kimchi ramen to offset the heavy butter, cream, and egg smells that filled the kitchen. after enjoying my snack i noticed the lid was the perfect size and shape for my project! (later i realize, the circle might have been a little too big for a 3-layer cake.)
my ramen template :D
i sandwiched two layers together with banana buttercream (recipe at bottom) and cut an upside-down cone shape for this bottom section of the cake. i filled it with a mixture of peanut butter crumbs mixed with some frosting, and this was the result..

bottom section of the cake
the top was a big trickier... this would be the part i need to practice to perfect this type of cake. to add to the difficulty i carved the top section out of only one layer of cake, a lot less depth to work with. however here's the result,:
top section of cake
next time i'd leave out that peak of chocolate cake, it turned out to be a little too much and flattened the heart in the end. i learned tons from making this!

since i was crunched for time i placed the cake in the freezer throughout the process of cutting, carving and assembling it in order to keep it firm and the project neat.

flipped the top section over on the bottom and frost it over...
crumb coating 
look at the little bits of banana in the frosting.. it gives it character and i love it!
banana bits :)
and now it's all frosted, ready for some delicious ganache!
frosted and ready to go
i left this in the fridge for a few hours for the frosting and cake to firm up. poured dark chocolate ganache and decorated it with white chocolate pieces (a few broke since i was so tired and was a little bit sloppy) but here is the end product:

now for the ultimate test... after my mom and i sang happy birthday to my dad, we sliced the cake! though the result was not perfect, it was still not bad! here's a slice of cake,
a peanut butter heart in every slice!!
what a yummy cake! think of all the wonderful flavour pairs...
pb and banana 
banana and chocolate
pb and chocolate. 
all came together for a mindblowing culinary ménage à trois (hoping thats not too edgy, haha)

here are the recipes i used so you can make your own!

peanut butter cake
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (can also use smooth)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
preheat oven to 375.
combine flour, brown sugar, BP, and salt. set aside.
in a separate bowl mix peanut butter, butter, milk, and vanilla.
add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, combine to mix.
add egg and yolk and beat for a couple minutes.
pour into greased loaf pan.
bake for ~ 30 min.

chocolate cake (from hershey's, adjusted for high altitude)
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
preheat oven to 375.
combine sugar, flour, BP, BS, and salt.
add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. mix well.
stir in boiling water.
pour (thin) batter into 2 prepared round pans.
bake ~35 min.

banana buttercream frosting
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
  • 1 overripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ~3 cups confectioners sugar 
mix butter, banana and vanilla til smooth.
add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until desired consistency reached.

dark chocolate ganache
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
bring cream and corn syrup to a low simmer.
remove from heat.
add chocolate and stir until smooth.
let sit until desired consistency is reached.

we all thoroughly enjoyed this cake, it was decadent, rich... perfect for birthday wishes :)
love you dad, thank you for everything over the years and i hope you had a happy birthday!!!!