Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture soon enough. This small sliver was the last piece standing after my daughter demolished it...story in the footnote:)
One thing I love about Ben is his grateful attitude. He is truly one of the easiest people to please, especially when it comes to food. After cooking a couple nice meals in a row one week, he said, "Kamille, I appreciate all your effort in making dinner, but you know you don't have to go out of your way. I'd be just as happy with sandwiches." What a guy right!
Well, if it's your birthday, you need something extra special right! I was envisioning making something along the lines of a braised beef dish. One, because we don't eat much meat these days and two, because Ben's ultimate meal would be steak. However, it didn't happen. Instead I made some Lentil Stew (which turned out really great & I'll post it later), but I did make up for it in the cake department. And honestly, baking is more my thing.
If I were to say another thing I love about Ben, it would have to be his appreciation for simple routine. Simple, because he's a meat & potatoes, T-shirt & jeans wearing, sports lovin' type of guy. Routine, because he once went a solid three months eating the same exact lunch for work (he did say he got sick of it, but his defense was..."it was easy!"). So, when you combine that with my favorite question I ask people, "What's your top desserts of all time?," you get a wife who makes chocolate cake with ice cream for birthday dessert. I would love to make something more complex and even feel like I'm cheating him a bit; but, really, I'm not. And ya know, I wouldn't change it. Even if it means I'll be making chocolate cake for the next 50+ years...cause he's worth it.
Intensely Chocolate Cake with Light Chocolate Buttercream (printable recipe)
When I use the word "light," I don't mean in calories, but in density. The frosting is adapted from The Essence of Chocolate, while the cake is taken directly. It should be noted that I made one mistake in making the cake; hence, the denseness of the picture above...I added the eggs & mixed to realize I forgot to add the sugar first. Regardless, it tasted wonderful, just not as airy.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 additional sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, not completely room temperature, cut into 1/2-in pieces
Unsalted butter and flour for the pans
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water
For the frosting: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar & cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Add both chocolates & 4 ounces of butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Stir until melted Pour into bowl of a mixer and add vanilla. Mix on medium-high speed until bowl is room temperature. Add pieces of the additional butter. Beat until light & fluffy, approximately 4-5 minutes.
For the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly butter the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment and the sides of the pans.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed. Mix in the eggs, oil, and milk.
Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the water. The batter will be soupy.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely. Invert the cake with top side down onto a serving platter. Remove the parchment & place about two cups of frosting on top. Spread it out, starting from the center. You don't need to make it even, since the second layer will help smoosh the frosting evenly. Put the rest of the frosting on top. Once again starting from the center and working outwards. Then, spreading it over and onto the sides.
Let the frosting firm up a bit and eat!
**Post-story: My oldest daughter got into some monkey business while I went upstairs to change my youngest. Upon my return, she was at the table looking like this...