He has admittedly been alone (i.e.: sans girlfriend) for many of his adult birthdays. So when I offered to bake him a cake he was rather pleased by the notion of someone fussing over him like that. I always bake cakes for my loved ones; Jeremy usually chooses cheesecake. So I would actually have been offended if Tom had said he'd rather have something from a bakery, or avoid the sugar coma altogether.
But he contemplated his options and decided that he wanted a chocolate cake, 2 layers. Perhaps some coffee-flavored whipped cream, rather than traditional frosting. Drizzles of caramel and chocolate, and -- of course! -- walnuts, which complete any baked good in his opinion. As long as there was no rolling fondant or forming gum paste flowers -- neither of which I've ever worked with -- I could make this happen.
Of course, senile twit that I can sometimes be, I had the walnuts out on the counter as I prepared the cake and then completely forgot to add them to the batter ... sigh. So they ended up sprinkled over the frosting instead. But other than that, I think the cake turned out the way Tom had hoped it would; he seemed utterly tickled that he could actually place an order for a specific cake and have it appear for him. May all of his other birthday wishes come true ... :)
Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee-Flavored Whipped Cream Frosting
(cake recipe slightly adapted from the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake recipe in The Pleasures of Afternoon Tea by Angela Hynes)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 8" round cake pans.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine baking soda and yogurt; mix into batter. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix into batter.
Combine cocoa powder and coffee, stirring until smooth. Add to batter and careful mix in.
Divide batter between the prepared cake pans, making a slight depression in the center so that when they rise the cakes will be flat.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Carefully remove the cakes from the pans, and leave them on a rack to cool completely.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Place the cream cheese into a large mixing bowl and whip it using an electric mixer.
Add the coffee and half of the whipping cream; beat on "high" until peaks are starting to form.
Add the confectioners' sugar and beat, then add the rest of the whipping cream and beat until the mixture is the consistency of soft frosting.
Place one of the cake layers onto a serving tray; tuck pieces of foil underneath the cake so that the frosting doesn't mess up the tray as you're spreading it. Spread a 1/2" layer of frosting over the top of the cake layer, then place the second layer on top. Spread a generous 1/2" layer of frosting along the sides of the cake, and then cover the top. Save any excess frosting -- it's great stirred into coffee or cocoa, or just eaten with a spoon!
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
caramel ice cream sauce
Hershey's chocolate sauce
Sprinkle the walnuts over the top of the cake. Dip a fork into the jar of caramel sauce, then drizzle some of the sauce diagonally over the walnuts.
Use the same fork technique to drizzle some of the chocolate sauce in the opposite direction over the cake. Gently pull the foil pieces out from under the cake.
Cut and serve the cake ... and enjoy! Refrigerate leftovers, so the whipped cream doesn't spoil.