November 6, 2010

Birthday Cake with Chocolate-Cinnamon Whipped Frosting

How do you tell that you're looking at a grown-up cake? The recipe specifically requests that the bourbon you choose be at least 80 proof.

That's a cake'll put hair on your chest.

It was Erik's birthday yesterday, and a long-standing tradition in our relationship is that I make him a birthday cake and also ruin it in some comically ridiculous way. Some examples: Forgetting to add the egg (delicious, but crumbly and impossible to frost), buttercream frosting so thick that it literally held the cake shape after you ate the cake out from under it (that cake was also delicious, though), and a layer cake held together with chopsticks (again, delicious but ugly).

Traditions aside, I managed to avoid disasters this time around. The cake was pretty tasty, rich and dense, although I think it needed more chocolate to balance out the kick of bourbon. It was easy to make and perfectly moist, so I would definitely make it again, just tweaking the flavor profile a bit. The flavors really mellow after a couple days. I made it a day early, but it takes two for everything to come together. The only changes I made were halving the recipe (12 servings seems a bit much for two people) and adding a few dashes of cinnamon, so I'm just going to send you to the original recipe, in case you're interested:
Gourmet 1999 Chocolate Mud Cake.

So the cake was a little disappointing on the birthday, but delicious the day after. It's a two-day kind of cake. The frosting, though, was beyond amazing right from the get-go. Around 5 o'clock on Friday, I was trying to figure out why I was so damn hungry, and I realized that I had accidentally had nothing but frosting for lunch. I also had a little stomachache, which made a lot more sense after this realization.

Light and fluffy, this frosting is almost as easy to make as plain whipped cream, although it does dirty one more bowl. Erik loves homemade whipped cream enough that he's been known to tell strangers about it, but frosting a cake with whipped cream seems like a soggy, puddly mess waiting to happen . I'm pretty sure I can't make Erik clean up my messes on his birthday, so that was out. Folding in a package of whipped cream cheese solved the dilemma: The frosting is airy and delightful, but it's sturdy enough to stick to the cake. Also, it sat out on the counter for a couple hours without melting. I'm aware that that's not sanitary, but I have to go to class even on birthdays.

For normal whipped cream situations, I usually prefer a barely-sweet vanilla version, sometimes with just a hint of spices. But for a chocolate booze cake, some more flavor seemed in order. After checking in on the birthday boy's flavor preference, we ended up with a vanilla-cinnamon-chocolate frosting. It. Is. Phenomenal. It also made about three times as much as I needed, and it is taking every ounce of restraint that I have to not go at it with a spoon. Fortunately for my waistline, my graduate stipend won't allow me to buy all new jeans, so it's been safe in the fridge so far.

You know I licked these, though.

Light and Fluffy Cinnamon-Chocolate Whipped Frosting
Whew, that's a mouthful.
I know 5T seems like a lot of sugar, but this recipe makes enough frosting for at least three smallish cakes (or several unhealthy lunches), so bear that in mind. 

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 package cream cheese
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Pop a metal mixing bowl in the freezer. In a different bowl, beat the cream cheese with about half of the seasonings* (ie, everything but the whipping cream) until light and airy. 

Retrieve bowl from freezer, and beat the whipping cream with the remaining seasonings* until it holds stiff peaks. Fold cream cheese into whipped cream, and beat very briefly on lowest speed until totally combined. Taste, and adjust flavors as needed (you should be able to mix in any additional needed powder/ sugar/ vanilla with just a spatula).

*This in no way needs to be exact. The idea is just to make sure that the cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla are spread evenly throughout after folding the two mixtures together, and to make it a little easier to taste and adjust seasoning as you go.

but so awesome.



  1. i can't wait to make that frosting with my kitchenaid!! I love whipped cream cheese icing from scratch. one of my most favorite things. And this one sounds just so amazing.

  2. Oh man, I can barely stand the Kitchenaid envy!