I can’t believe my little monster is already two years old, or as he says: “deux dans” while holding up crossed fingers. You hear it all the time, but I genuinely believe that I just brought him home from the hospital. It’s so vivid in my mind, it couldn’t possibly have been years ago?
As for the transition from one to two, well. You hear about the terrible twos. But apparently so did X. It’s like he got the memo that he was two now, and woke up with an attitude. In fact, poor little guy, he’s fighting a cold as well as a losing battle with his teeth which have been trying to come in for about a year. I’d be cranky too. But it wasn’t a pleasant birthday experience for anyone involved. He refused to eat anything all day … until he saw what I made him for dessert.
I had looked into making something fancy. He adores Disney’s Cars so I looked into somehow doing a car cake, but my exhaustion got the better of me. It was just going to be SO MUCH WORK. Half of the ingredients you need for fancy cakes are so hard to find in Switzerland. And I know when I made it it wouldn’t look anything like it was supposed to (to be honest, most of my meals end up looking like massive fails) (but they sure taste good).
I have a stepsister who makes the most unbelievable cakes. Like, professional quality. They are so beautiful. She even did my Mom’s wedding cake and you wouldn’t know that it didn’t come from some top bakery. I know her kids are going to have amazing cakes every year for their birthdays. And while I am jealous of her talent, I know it’s never going to be something I’m good at. I let the dream go. X loves chocolate, so I decided to make a plain, basic, incredibly rich and gooey chocolate cake.
My decorating consists of sprinkles that are sort of awkwardly pushed into the icing and hope that not too many fall off before people start eating it. This is as good as I get. But let me tell you – this is a cake for the books. I found the recipe at the Add a Pinch, accurately titled The Best Chocolate Cake (Ever). I like the addition of espresso powder – it added richness to the taste and colour, without making it mocha. There was a mild coffee taste, but really good. I halved the original amount of frosting and got more than enough for my two-layer cake – I put in the recipe with what I used, so double if you want more. Like, just to sit on the floor and eat the icing out of the bowl if you want. I’m not saying that I didn’t.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder
Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
The real judge of this was the birthday boy, who finally enthusiastically ate something. He was annoyed with the sparkler I put into the cake for him, as opposed to impressed as I thought he’d be. He just wanted the cake, on his plate, as soon as possible. If he were in any mood to say something nice to me, I think he’d say he approved.