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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Birthday cakes

My friend's birthday is next weekend, although we celebrated her birthday 8 days early with a group dinner out at an Italian restaurant last night.  Due to the size of our group, we chose family style option at the restaurant.  According to my other friend who made the reservation, we're going to choose the cheese course for dessert since "Also, they let you bring cake in case anyone wanted to make a cake :) :)."  No question there as to whom she thought would be willing to bake!

I narrowed the options down to four cakes, and enlisted the help of my friend who co-planned the birthday dinner with me.  She chose either the cannoli cake (after all, it goes so well with the Italian dinner) or another one.  However, I opted for the cannoli cake and another cake (simply because I had been wanting to make it for a while...there are chocolate stars coming out of the cake!).  Probably overkill since each cake recipe states that it serves 12-14 people and we're going to be 12 people total....and its after/part of a 3-course meal.  But details, details....

I started a few days ahead of time by making the chocolate stars that would adorn the White Chocolate Truffle and Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake.  The day of the birthday dinner, I set out to bake 2 2-layer cakes (4 layers total, each with 2 different icings/fillings) - that cake, and a cannoli cake called the Marvelous Cannoli Cake.  Another common theme throughout this blog: I don't make things easy for myself.

Here are the stars after I cut them out of the chocolate (but before I removed them):

Then, the cakes....Originally, I was going to revamp the cannoli cake recipe and bake the white cake from scratch (instead of using boxed mix), but I decided against it mainly because the white cake recipe I had said it made 2 8" layers (and I have 9" pans), and secondly, I couldn't tell if the cake would be the right consistency for the filling and icings.  I kept the Chocolate Fudge Cake as the recipe said.

Then came the fillings and frostings... 

For the cannoli cake, I made the ricotta filling first.  It called for 2 oz of finely chopped chocolate, but I used the mini chips that I had for the rest of the recipe.  It was a teeny bit softer than I'd expect, but I think it was due to the chocolate that I used - and it set up really well in and on the cake.  Then I made the mascarpone icing.  The consistency was COMPLETELY off.  It was crumbly and not spreadable.  I actually had to run out in the middle of the afternoon to buy more mascarpone and remake it (the second version came out much better) - although I only used about half of the milk that it called for (it was still a little runny with half the milk).

For the White Chocolate Truffle and Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake, I was in a rush when I assembled it, and was clearly not paying attention, since after going out and buying Amaretto for the cake, I forgot to brush the layers with it.  The white chocolate layer in the middle of the cake was thinner (height-wise, not consistency-wise) than I had wanted it to be, and the white chocolate whipped cream icing (when I made it, I did add a little Amaretto so that it had the flavor, along with the almond extract) was not as fluffy as I had hoped, but all in all it was great, but VERY rich.  Smaller slices next time!

Here they are being served at dinner, and sliced up.

 The cake slicer for the cannoli cake was better than the one for the chocolate cake, however, I only had this picture

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