+[the Misters birthday cake]+

Tomorrow is Dougs 44th birthday.  We have a full day of celebration planned so I made his cake today.  Hes a chocolate and pecan man.  For birthdays I prefer white cake, white frosting myself (only for birthdays though and probably because thats what my mom always bought for me).  Savannah likes strawberry.  Peyton likes white as well.  But in honor of his favorites I made this one.  I must admit it is a fork full of fabulousness.

Baking above 8000 ft is a killer.  It fell on me, but I recovered.  This recipe is not adjusted to high altitude baking so if you are up the in clouds like me, well, you may want to make your favorite adjustments.

CAKE:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (this is important for flavor, dont skip it)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans (can also use 3 pans- just make a double recipe of batter) and line them with parchment; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool. Peel off the parchment.


FROSTING:

1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
6 tbs. butter
2 cups high-quality semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup Caramel sauce (I like this one)
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans

1.  Mix sugar and milk in saucepan. Add butter. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

2.  Add chocolate chips to pan. Using wire whisk, mix until smooth. If frosting is too thick or grainy, add 1 or 2 teaspoons hot coffee.

* be sure to double frosting if you are going the 3 layer route


ASSEMBLING

1.  Place one cooled cake layer, top-side down, on cake plate.

2.  Spread with one-half of frosting, pushing it out gently from edges to make a petal effect.

3.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the pecans, drizzle with half of the caramel.

4.  Add next layer, again top-side down. Repeat frosting with petal effect, sprinkle with remaining pecans and drizzle with remaining caramel.


Yes, the strawberry cupcake recipe is coming this week...just in time for Easter!