Birthdays. I love 'em. I love everything about them. I love getting friends and family together to celebrate and especially love it when there's cake (and ice cream) involved. So when my sweet friend Diera asked me if I might be interested in making a cake for her insanely gracious boyfriend Jared's (30th!!) birthday, I may have screamed with happiness. Pretty sure I went with a "YES YES YES YES YES" kind of response. Cause who wouldn't want to be part of someone's special day, especially when that someone happens to be one of the most kindhearted souls you've met?! I spent days upon days dreaming up the perfect cake, texting questions like, "does he like peanut butter," "would you say he really likes chocolate," and "what are his favorite things to do." Some questions were pretty irrelevant because let's be honest, can you see me making a surfing themed birthday cake for a soon to be thirty-year old man? Please refrain from responding if you think the answer is yes (lollollol). Here's the bottom line. I put a lot of thought into this cake 'cause I wanted to get it just right.
Funniest thing about all that thinking is that when all was said and done, Jared's 30th birthday cake ended up being a riff on a cake that's very near and dear to my heart, the Moses Cake. What's Moses cake? Well last year, for Moses' birthday, I made this cake for Moses and he dubbed it the Moses Cake and said he wanted it for every birthday forevermore. The Moses Cake was tweaked and turned into my godson Hanalei's Dump Truck Cake and today I'm sharing the newest iteration with you, this dark chocolate mascarpone layer cake with dark chocolate ganache, a.k.a. Jared's 30th birthday cake, a.k.a. the Moses Cake 2.0. Cutest part about riffing on the Moses Cake is that when Moses watched me put together Jared's cake he couldn't help but notice that it might be better than his cake and definitely said something along the lines of just that, "his cake is better than mine." So this year, Moses is probably getting the Moses Cake 2.0. But enough about Moses, this cake was made for Jared and...
guess what, HE LOVED IT!! Guys, it was such a success. The party as a whole was a success. And a surprise!! I've never seen someone happier or more surprised than the birthday boy. Gracious doesn't even begin to describe him because if you saw him that day, I swear you'd be running to your kitchen right now to make him a cake. Never was a cake ever more appreciated than at Jared's surprise birthday. And Diera, his gf, was smiling from ear to ear viewing the success of her surprise party. Moral of the story? Make cakes for the people in your life then throw them surprise parties because chances are not only will you make their days you'll simultaneously make your own.
P.s. I'm sure I'm partial but guys, MAKE THIS CAKE. It's MOIST, INTENSE, and CHOCOLATEY HEAVEN. (Yes, I'm screaming that.) It's what chocolate cake dreams are made of. Not only is this dark chocolate cake moist and almost fluffy, it's also infused with coffee and layered with light yet decadent dark chocolate mascarpone frosting and topped with deep, dense, dark chocolate ganache. If any of this is at all appealing to you, well, you know what to do. ;)
- 1 3/4 c. (254 g.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 c. (300 g.) granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. (73 g.) dark brown sugar
- 3/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. (77 g.) unsweetened dark (sometimes called black) cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. (10 g.) baking soda
- 1 tsp. (5 g.) baking powder
- 1 tsp. (6 g.) kosher salt
- 1 c. (242 g.) buttermilk
- 1/2 c. (109 g.) vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp. (12 g.) vanilla extract
- 1 c. (215 g.) hot coffee, brewed fresh
- 3 c. (24 oz.) (675 g.) mascarpone, softened
- 1 c. (95 g.) unsweetened dark (sometimes called black) cocoa powder
- 1 c. (115 g.) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 c. (699 g.) heavy cream
DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 8 oz. (227 g.) chopped dark chocolate
- 2/3 c. (155 g.) heavy cream
- Three 9" x 2" round cake pans
- Three 9" parchment rounds
- Stand mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Silicone spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Wire cooling rack
- Long, sharp serrated knife
- Plastic wrap
- Small saucepan
- Revolving cake stand or an inverted bowl with a plate on top
- 9" cardboard round
- Evenbake cake strips, pre-soaked in water
- Offset spatula (4.5" and 7.6")
- Move rack to middle of oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Butter three cake pans and line with parchment rounds. Butter the rounds then dust pans with flour. Tap out any excess flour and set aside pans.
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine flour, sugars, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt at low speed. In mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. On low speed, incorporate the buttermilk mixture into the dry mixture and beat until just combined. Next add the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
- Evenly distribute batter between the three prepared pans. Wrap pans with evenbake strips*. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done! Cool in pans for 30 minutes, then invert onto a greased rack to cool. When cooled completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to freezer till ready to use.
- Sift together dark cocoa powder and powdered sugar into the bowl of stand mixer. Add mascarpone then fit stand with paddle attachment and beat on medium-low until creamy and smooth. Add vanilla extract and heavy cream and beat on medium-low speed until throughly combined and stiff peaks start to form. Be careful not to overbeat as the mixture will set up after you finish whisking. Store in fridge till ready to use and let sit at room temp for 5-10 minutes before using.
DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- Put your chopped chocolate into a bowl and set aside. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan on medium heat until barely simmering. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside while frosting cake. Stir from time to time.
FROSTING THE CAKE
- With your long serrated knife, trim top if necessary and then carefully cut each round into two layers. Set your first cake round on 9" cardboard round on stand or plate with flat side facing down. Using your small offset spatula, gently cover the top of the first layer with the mascarpone frosting until it extends slightly over the edges of the layer. Top with the second cake layer, flattest side up then repeat frosting. Repeat with remaining three layers* then spread frosting onto the sides with your small offset spatula until all surfaces have been covered with frosting.
- Next take your large offset spatula and smooth surfaces by holding the spatula at a 45-degree angle against the cake, while rotating the turntable or the plate. Wipe the blade of your spatula clean if the surface isn't getting as smooth as you'd like it to be.
- Pour the ganache over the top of your frosted cake and quickly smooth over the top until it extends slightly over the edges of the cake. Run the blade of your offset spatula along the sides to blend the ganache into the the frosting creating an almost ombre look.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Evenbake strips are not necessary but are amazing when used. Cakes bake perfectly even and flat.
- This recipe makes enough frosting for five layers versus six layers of cake. This just means you can "taste test" that last layer to make sure your cake is every bit as delicious as you'd hope it'd be before you serve it. You can also try to stretch the frosting to make all six layer but I don't recommend it.
- Decorate as you please. I used toasted, chopped almonds and pistachios as well as some pansies from my garden.