What birthday cake do I want?
April 8, 2010 5:02 PM   Subscribe

It's my birthday in 2 weeks. Help me figure out what birthday cake (or pie) I want my mother to make for me.

I want a cake with chocolate, which I like dark. I do not want milk or white chocolate. I do not like particularly sweet cakes. I also like chocolate with any nuts, most fruit (but little is in season now), coffee, caramel, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom -- almost anything. I have no objections to using alcohol. I like ganache and icing but am not wedded to them, so unfrosted is fine. I like recipes that are a bit unusual, that I haven't tried before, and are a little special occasion-y.

(My mother made me this cake last year. It was her idea, and is more work than I would want to ask her to do again, so less than that. In truth, I don't care if the cake looks professional or not. I don't want fondant.)

I have a lot of flourless chocolate cake recipes and do not want those. I don't terribly want cheesecake, unless someone has a recipe for a chocolate goat cheese one. I am open to pies and cupcakes. I dislike dry cakes.

Assume that we have access to any ingredients and products necessary to make any recipe, and that we have the expertise for any recipe.
posted by jeather to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
boston cream pie with pastry cream (not vanilla pudding) between the layers?
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 5:05 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm from the south, and this is how we roll:
chocolate cake
white frosting
sprinkle with red hots
so simple, so tasty!
posted by sexyrobot at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2010

I made these bittersweet chocolate cardamom cupcakes for my boyfriend's birthday this year. Your mom could probably adapt the recipe into a full cake form. He said they were the best cupcakes he'd ever had... not too sweet, very dark chocolate-y with a strong cardamom flavor in the cake part that paired really nicely with the ganache. You could probably add a layer of chopped pistachio cream or another kind of nut between cake layers.
posted by booknerd at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

A cake with chocolate or a chocolate cake? I made a banana bread that was so moist and really felt like cake. Very sweet. With lots of dark chocolate chips and walnuts and cinnamon... it was so good! Perhaps covering it with a thin layer of ganache would make it more birthday cake like.
posted by Swisstine at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2010

I'd look for variations on the Black Forest cake. I think you could do an all-chocolate one (no whipped cream, in other words) or something. Pick one that uses liquor for added fun.

Or a chocolate stout cake might also fit the bill. I don't have a specific recipe for this, but it seems pretty common. Yum.
posted by darksong at 5:15 PM on April 8, 2010

Oops, posted without the link...
I made the recipe with all the sugar listed and added extra cinnamon and added 3/4 of a bag of dark chocolate chips.

Jacked-up banana bread
posted by Swisstine at 5:17 PM on April 8, 2010

I can tell you exactly what cake you are looking for: Sachertorte. TRUST ME on this.
posted by sickinthehead at 5:19 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you considered German Chocolate Cake (named for the German chocolate company, not Germany)? In case you don't know, it's Devil's Food Cake (which will be rich and moist if your mother uses the recipe from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which will be at your library), topped with a coconut filling.

I haven't tried this particular recipe, but give it a shot if you're interested. It comes with a chocolate glaze, which sounds wonderful, if not traditional.

If you want an idea for a fruit pie, I'd suggest strawberry or strawberry rhubarb. Strawberries are at a very low price right now thanks to some unusual weather in Florida, at least on the East Coast.

If you want something dramatic and fancy, consider Chocolate Crepes Suzette, which combines chocolate, oranges, alcohol, and fire. Just take a recipe for Crepes Suzette, and substitute chocolate crepes.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:20 PM on April 8, 2010

This chocolate cake, with the following recipe for nutella dulce de leche frosting:

1 cup dulce de leche
1/3 cup nutella
12 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt
2-4 tablespoons milk

Cream the nutella, dulce de leche, and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer until the mixture is fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk, and continue mixing until combined. Add the remaining milk to the mix if the frosting seems too stiff for your liking.
posted by arianell at 5:25 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am open to cakes that are entirely chocolate, or that just feature it. I love fruit pies, but it's really too early for them now (I'm in Quebec and like to use local fruit for pies). I make cakes fairly regularly and will certainly try out other recipes later.
posted by jeather at 5:35 PM on April 8, 2010

This is my mother's chocolate cake recipe, and it is amazing. Not only did my brother and I have it for our birthdays every year growing up, but she now makes it for my kids' birthdays. Parents of my kids' friends will make sure to be at the party at cake-time so they can have a piece. Yes, it's really that good.
posted by cerebus19 at 5:51 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chocolate Stout Cake - it is fantastic! Very chocolate-y without being overly sweet, with a great ganache and a hint of something different from the Guinness.
posted by xsquared-1 at 6:01 PM on April 8, 2010

If you decide to go pie, I highly suggest rhubarb (especially if you've never had it before). I had never had rhubarb pie until a year ago, and it is now officially my favorite pie. Make sure you use fresh rhubarb and not frozen!

I have been routinely thrilled with this recipe (scroll down for the pie...personally I opt for the vodka pie crust).
posted by phunniemee at 6:05 PM on April 8, 2010

Well, for a couple of birthdays, I've asked my mom to make the chocolate cinnamon torte from the old Good Housekeeping cookbook (Google Books link). It's delicious, sort of unusual, special occasion-y, and not overly sweet. Very rich so you only need a small piece, and the leftovers get better every day, which is especially important for birthday cakes.
posted by pocams at 6:18 PM on April 8, 2010

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate-Orange Buttercream Frosting. I've made it several times, including twice as my own birthday cake. It's very chocolatey, moist, not too sweet and not too tough to throw together. The orange and the lavender make it special without being overly, cloyingly floral. Skip the chocolate curls (not necessary), and brush a little Grand Marnier on the layers if you like a little alcohol kick.

Just typing that makes me want to make it again, now.
posted by Knicke at 6:54 PM on April 8, 2010

I made this Cinnamon Chocolate Bundt Cake for Thanksgiving and loved it. It was incredibly moist and chocolate-y, but not too sweet. I topped mine with a rich chocolate ganache.

Oh, and if you go the Boston Cream Pie route, make it a chocolate Boston Cream Pie - chocolate cake with chocolate pastry cream. I don't have a recipe yet, but I'm working on making one right now in fact. :)

And if you're not particularly set on cake, these (self-link) Sinfully Dark Chocolate Brownies are a fave of mine!
posted by geeky at 7:04 PM on April 8, 2010

xsquared-1, this is also a good option: Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake. (I found it by following your link for the Stout Cake.
I've also really enjoyed a Mexican Chocolate cake, which is tasty with dark chocolate, cinnamon, coffee and of course cayenne. Yum. (note: I modified this recipe hugely, but I never made any notes, so sorry. The comments are useful. I know I used whole wheat flour, added cayenne and used yogurt instead of the sour milk, etc. ) Really I think you can win with any combination of those flavors.
posted by purpletangerine at 7:05 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is what you want! It has nothing to do, AIUI, with the Watergate Hotel. Apparently it is from a place in Pennsylvania.

Watergate Cake

1 Duncan Hines Deluxe White Cake Mix
1 3 ounce package Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup club soda
pistachio frosting (in recipe below)

In a mixing bowl, blend cake mix with pudding mix. Add oil, eggs and club soda. Mix together until blended, then beat for 4 minutes on medium speed. Stir in nuts. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove to serving plate; cool and frost. (Delicious even without frosting

Pistachio Frosting

1 4 ounce package Dream Whip (use both envelopes
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon cold milk
1 3 ounce package Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix
Coconut, chopped walnuts, (and red cherries)
Blend Dream Whip with milk; beat at high speed. Gradually add pudding mix; beat for 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat. Frost cake and decorate with coconut, nuts, and cherries.

What time will you be serving? :-)
posted by jgirl at 7:31 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I can tell you exactly what cake you are looking for: Sachertorte. TRUST ME on this.

Yes. But not just any Sachertorte, my forty two year old Sachertorte recipe from the Encyclopaedia of World Cookery. Line the tin with newspaper then baking paper so it cooks evenly and let it sit for 24 hours after filling and frosting before you eat it. It's worth the wait.

The Cake
225g / 8 oz cooking chocolate
225g / 8 oz butter
225g / 8 oz ground almonds
8 eggs (separated)
175g / 6 oz castor sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
apricot jam or sauce (although I miss this bit out)

1) Prepare the tin as follows: grease with butter (or non-stick spray-on cooking oil), dust first with flour and then castor sugar. A bit of a pain but definitely worth doing.

2) Melt the chocolate with a little water.

3) Cream the butter, add the chocolate, beaten egg yolks, ground almonds and sugar. Beat all ingredients together until light and creamy.

4) Add the cornflour and beat again.

5) Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites and transfer gently into the prepared cake tin.

6) Bake in a moderately slow oven (180°C / 350°F / Gas 4) for 1 hour. Leave in tin to cool thoroughly before turning out.

7) Cut the cake in half and spread the lower half with filling (see below). Replace top half and spread with sieved apricot jam or sauce then ice with chocolate frosting (see below).

8) Serve the next day with whipped cream. Yes I know it’s hard to wait but it really does taste a lot better the next day.


4 egg yolks
50g / 2 oz sugar
50g / 2 oz cocoa
150mL / ¼ pint double cream
1 oz vanilla sugar (can use ordinary sugar)

1) In a heat proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, cook the beaten egg yolks, sugar and cocoa, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens.

2) Whip the cream and vanilla sugar together. Add to the chocolate mixture when it cools.

Chocolate Frosting

1 egg yolk
500g / 1 lb icing sugar
75mL / 1/8 pint hot strong black coffee
75g / 3 oz butter
1 tbsp cocoa

1) Cream butter and egg yolk.

2) Gradually add the sugar and cocoa, alternately with the hot coffee, adding just enough coffee to make a spreadable consistency.
posted by shelleycat at 11:38 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to ruin anything, but a sachertorte is not a sachertorte without the apricot filling. It's also usually quite dry and because of this it is served with heaping spoonfuls of unsweetened cream. And a coffee.

A few suggestions:

Smitten Kitchen's Pistachio Petit Four Cake

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake

Nigel Slater's Chocolate Chip Espresso Cake
posted by kirstk at 12:02 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I make no claims that my sachertore is authentic. I do, however, claim that it is awesome. This recipe isn't at all dry, instead it's rich and chocolatey and wonderful.
posted by shelleycat at 12:42 AM on April 9, 2010

Maybe what you want is panforte. Chocolate, cocoa, hazelnuts, almonds, candied citrus peel, spices... (disclosure: I haven't tried this particular recipe, but you can go search for more)
posted by dywypi at 4:36 AM on April 9, 2010

I made Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Hazelnut Torte for my birthday last year. It was spectacular. If you've ever wanted to make a cake containing an entire jar of Nutella, this is the one.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:23 AM on April 9, 2010

Orangette's whiskey-soaked dark chocolate bundt cake. When I made it, I iced it with salted caramel icing. Y-um. Also, a Mefite a while back linked to a dark chocolate cardamom cake; I made it for Valentine's and it was awesome, very coolly cardamom-y.
posted by ifjuly at 7:53 AM on April 9, 2010

Another option, maybe not fancy enough but yummy--Nigella's chocolate banana cake. If the corn syrup in the icing squicks you out, use Joy of Cooking's chocolate rum ganache (so easy, so good) instead; frankly, it tastes better anyway.
posted by ifjuly at 7:57 AM on April 9, 2010

I heartily second jgirl's Watergate cake. My grandmom used to make it for me. It's the best thing that's ever gone into my mouth and it tastes great paired with some pieces of dark chocolate on the side.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2010

This chocolate mousse crunch cake looks impressive for a special occasion but wouldn't actually be too much work if you use a boxed cake mix like the blogger suggests.
posted by katie at 9:44 AM on April 9, 2010

I concur 100% with diagnosis SACHERTORTE. also, happy birthday!
posted by neitheror at 3:50 PM on April 9, 2010

Mocha walnut torte is the bomb! I'll try to dig up our reicpe.
posted by semacd at 5:33 PM on April 9, 2010

Oh my gosh, I just tried digging up the chocolate cardamom cake mentioned on AskMe and discovered it was from you jeather! Ha. Sorry about that.

To redeem myself maybe a little, here's the links to the other two cakes I mentioned when I wasn't able to dig for them before:

-whiskey-soaked dark chocolate bundt cake
-chocolate banana cake and the rum ganache I recommend subbing for the originally called for icing
posted by ifjuly at 6:52 PM on April 9, 2010

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