Birthday | German Chocolate Memories

| Birthdays

When I asked Darren what type of desserts or flavor preferences he might have for his birthday, he was quick and precise in his answer: German Chocolate Cake.

It turns out that his mom would make him a German Chocolate Cake for his birthday when he was growing up and he wanted to continue that tradition for his celebration. I was happy to oblige of course, but talk about pressure to meet or exceed the expectations of childhood longing!

For this intimidating task, I turned to Cook’s Illustrated for guidance, and as always, I’m glad I did. The Cook’s Illustrated German Chocolate Cake uses whole eggs instead of separated eggs, which the kitchen testers found actually improves the cake texture. I also think the use of sour cream instead of milk/heavy cream has something to do with this, as the sour cream gives the batter a luscious thickness and structure that helps prevent any cake sinking.

The end result was a cake with a fine crumb and silky melt-in-your-mouth experience, and a very distinctively chocolate taste. I highly recommend this cake!

The coconut-pecan filling was great too, but honestly most recipes for the filling should be relatively good. I recommend toasting both the coconut and pecans before mixing for enhanced flavor.

I cut two 10″ cakes in half for 4 cake layers, each brushed with rum simple syrup, and topped with coconut-pecan filling. I then coated the sides of the layered cake with dark chocolate frosting. I originally intended to make small tempered chocolate cut-outs for a geometric decoration, but ran out of time. Hopefully I can execute that vision sometime in the future.

Finally, for presentation, I made a “Happy Birthday” using two birthday candles, some cardstock and spray glue (one of my favorite crafting items every). It’s hard to say how this cake stacked up to all German Chocolate cakes that came before, but the birthday boy and guests were happy, and that makes me happy!

Birthday | Turning 30 Is Just Peachy!

| Birthdays

For my friend’s 30th birthday, her husband requested a peach cake, since peach is one of her favorite fruits and something that the couple consumes by the Costco-flat per week. Unfortunately, the birthday fell on the week of the nationwide peach Listeria contamination scare when all Costco peaches got recalled. Fortunately, Safeway had (presumably) non-contaminated fruit in stock.

I made this cake based on the Beau Soleil cake in the Extraordinary Desserts cookbook. Readers of my blog already know how much I love Karen Krasne and her cakes, but in case you’re new here, I love Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego!

This is a 10″ cake with hazelnut joconde (sponge cake) layers, soaked with orange simple syrup and filled with mascarpone mousse, peach curd, whipped cream, and some hazelnut praline (for crunch) and drizzled honey.

The mousse is a French style one with an egg yolk base, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and vanilla beans (which make everything better).

The peach curd contains some peaches sauteed with brown sugar, and folded into the remainder of the pureed and gelatinized fresh peaches.

The outside is coated with the mousse and a thin layer of whipped cream. The sides are covered with the hazelnut praline, and the top is decorated with thinly sliced fresh peaches. The vibrant color and floral pattern make this cake aptly named Beau Soleil (beautiful sun).

I didn’t have a big enough box handy for this cake, so the sides got a little smashed when the wait staff took the cake out of the box for slicing. But, it was still delicious! I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to both make this cake and eat it too 🙂

0 comment

Birthday | Trio of Old Friends

| Birthdays

Happy birthday to me! And my friends!

During a recent weekend getaway, I was lucky enough to celebrate my 30th birthday with some dear friends, a few of whom are also turning 30 this year, and a couple of whom share July birthdays with me. So, I made each one of us a cake.

I knew I would have very limited time to decorate, so I made a batch of Italian meringue buttercream, and brought some fondant and piping gel along to the getaway in case I was struck with inspiration. The idea of representing the growth of a long friendship over time came to mind during the drive. So here is our trio of cakes to celebrate old friends:


The first is a green tea chiffon cake with green tea pastry cream and puff pastry layers, requested after I posted about that flavor combination in a previous birthday cake project.

The second is a purple yam chiffon cake with mango Bavarian cream. This one was fluffy and light. Maybe a little too light on flavor in my rush to make it.


The third is a lemon pound cake with lemon curd pastry cream and fresh strawberries. Perfect for a hot summer day!

0 comment

1 2 3 4 5