Friday, August 28, 2009

Twelve Layer Mocha Cake

It has somehow become a tradition for my roommates and I to bake each others' birthday cakes as a surprise. When one of our birthdays came close, we would sneak some of the measuring cups, measuring spoons and ingredients out over to someone else's kitchen (usually the boyfriend's) and bake the cake discreetly. Last year, Sandy and I managed to bake Erin's cake in our kitchen while Erin was not around. When the time that Erin was supposed to be home came close, I ended up icing the cake in my bedroom on my desk because I was so worried that she would bust in before the cake was done. For my birthday last year, Sandy and Erin made a beautiful tres leches cake and they apparently almost set Rick's place on fire trying to work the blow torch to carmelize the meringue on the outside.
Good times.

This year, Sandy and I decided to not go through the trouble of being homeless bakers but just to ban Erin from peaking into the kitchen and the fridge while we are making "something special" for her birthday. She knew it was coming anyways -- not a surprise anymore!

Sandy and I decided to take on a challenging cake -- twelve layer mocha cake. TWELVE layers! We spread the whole process over onto three days. First two days for baking the different layers and the last day for making the cream layers and finally the assembly.

The layers go like this starting from the bottom:
  • fluffy cocoa cake generously brushed with hazelnut and kahlua syrup
  • sweet mocha buttercream
  • hazelnut meringue layer that was baked till crisp
  • light coffee buttercream
  • dark chocolate souffle layer that has the texture of an airy souffle and the richness of a flourless chocolate cake
  • more mocha buttercream goodness
... and then repeat these six layers.

Lastly, the cake was topped with unsweetened whipped cream flavored with coffee and sprinkling of cocoa powder. And then the homemade ladyfingers were added to surround the cake to keep the different layers a pleasant surprise when the cake was cut into.

The cake turned out beautifully and was devoured by everyone! The different layers provided flavors that all melded together and varying textures that added an interesting dimension -- especially the crunchy meringue layer with bits of toasted hazelnut in between creamy buttercream layers.

Welcome to the quarter century club Erin! <3 br="">More birthdays coming up and the cake tradition continues...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Strawberry White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Making a mousse cake is a lot of work. It involves baking a cake, making the mousse (two different types in this case), chilling it, and assembling the cake in a ring mold, freezing the cake so the ring mold can be removed without perturbing the different layers and then finally the finishing touches.

But the finished product is definitely worth all the work. My friend Fenglin from Google wanted a special birthday cake for her piano teacher at her brunch party -- something fruity, something light and refreshing. Strawberries are at its peak season and everybody loves chocolate. So I decided to create a strawberry white chocolate mousse cake.

This cake has seven different layers -- starting from the bottom: 
  • fluffy dark chocolate sponge cake 
  • silky white chocolate mousse 
  • strawberry puree, which accentuates the sweet strawberry flavor 
  • more white chocolate mousse
  • dark chocolate sponge cake
  • strawberry mousse with bits of fresh strawberries
  • and finally topped with a thin layer of white chocolate mousse

The cake was lined with chocolate ladyfingers to add to the texture and decorated with dark chocolate dipped strawberries. And as a final touch, I baked a little sugar cookie for a special birthday message per request!

This is probably the most complex cake I've created so far, but I love challenges and seeing a beautiful slice of the cake with different layers makes me happy. :D 
And of course hearing from Fenglin that everyone enjoyed the cake made everything more worthwhile!