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Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Chocolate Kahlua Birthday Cake

Posted by osakaben41 on September 13, 2009

C-K cakeI am just loving these birthday cake commissions.  A good friend asked for a chocolate cake for her 40th, more specifically a Chocolate-chocolate with a hint of chocolate cake.  No nuts, no coconut, no fruit, just that sweet dark embrace.

Other things worth considering, 1) she has three kids, so for her birthday no more ponies, rainbows, or princesses (but yes to the liquor). 2) she’s a legitimate rock star, performing at her own party, and lastly 3) there might be a whole bunch of people looking for their slice of cake.  So we set off on a search for a massive, alcoholic, musically themed cake.

Honestly, the first approach was to be a series of flourless chocolate cake layers interspersed with various mousses.  After a fledgling attempt two things became abundantly apparent.  This would end up requiring well over 10 lbs of chocolate for the cake layers alone, and they were too close to the consistency of a moist brownie to provide any structure or stability.  They tasted great though, so I wasn’t about to scrap them.  


from bottom up: Chocolate sponge, Kahlua Mousse, Flourless cake, Espresso Mousse, Sponge, ganache, powdered cake dust topping.

From the bottom up: Chocolate sponge, Kahlua Mousse, Flourless cake, Espresso Mousse, Sponge, ganache, powdered cake dust topping.

Instead it was a retreat to that old workhorse, the Chocolate Genoise, easy, stable, and something I’ve done enough to feel comfortable with.  This cake then just needed some fillings to make it distinctive.  There’s just no getting away from coffee when you start talking chocolate, so the first mouse just had to be an espresso/chocolate one.  Then, with the need to make this an ‘adult’ cake, I went with a Kahlua mousse layer.  The cake itself was likely to sit out for a while, so to play it safe I threw in a small touch of gelatin to make the Mousse more of a Bavarian. 

C-K cake3

A number of friends would be bringing their kids though, so I added a small third layer with raspberry mousse in place of the coffee/kahlua pairing.  All layers got the same decorative treatment in a vain attempt to fool the under 5 crowd that we were all eating the same thing (“Dad, I’m three and a half.  I’m not stupid”)

For the finishing touches, I found some musically themed chocolate transfer sheets which just looked to be too fun to pass up.  They were surprisingly easy to work with, despite the layers of melted chocolate that ended up on my floor, pants, table, and in one instance which will remain a mystery, the walls.  That said, I would have loved to be able to use a metal straight edge to cut these strips properly.  Frozen they were too brittle and shattered.  At room temperature I was leaving chocolaty fingerprints everywhere.


"The Big Four-OH!"

"The Big Four-OH!"

So with thin bands of musical notes wrapping each layer, and a base of mocha ganache covering up everything else, I took some of the scraps from the flourless cake layer and blended them to as fine a dry powder as possible.  This chocolate dust was then sifted onto of each layer for a ‘velvety’ look.  For the top layer I cut a stencil saying “The Big FOUR-OH!”, and sifted some powdered sugar through it.  For all of ten minutes this was looking so cool, until the sugar began melting into the rest of the cake, slowly fading into obscurity.

Lastly, for absolutely no good reason, I covered the cake board in some chocolate piping.  If the whole exercise is an excuse to practice some tricks, why not squeeze some piping work into this one?

chocolate piping

Overall, I’ll call it a successful experiment, though there always seems to be a gap between the vision and the execution.  It was fun to work at this scale, but after destroying and cleaning my kitchen 7 times in the last three nights, the next few projects need to be more modest in size.  That said, I hope it went over well.  Happy 40th Carla.


One Response to “Chocolate Kahlua Birthday Cake”

  1. […] and was designed to lighten what is more typically a dense brownie (that had worked well in the past).  I should have forgone the whipped egg whites this time though, as I needed these layers […]

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