Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's all about the frosting

Hi there, folks!  So, a little history for this post.  At my office, I make the birthday cakes.  It sounds like nobody did much celebrating before I worked there, and as an only child who was very used to having my birthday properly celebrated, I found this to be problematic.  I'm happy to report that I've taken over that function at work and now we get cake at least 5 times a year.  An acceptable start, right?

So this week was Tony's birthday, and Tony wanted double chocolate cake (which is what Tony wanted last year).  And this cake isn't really about the's all about the frosting.  This frosting recipe is the BEST chocolate frosting recipe I know.  It starts on the stovetop and finishes in the mixer and it is extremely fudgey and rich.  Here it is:

Chocolate Fudge Frosting Recipe


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Just melt it, make sure you don't let it start to brown.  Nothing will ruin your chocolate frosting faster than the taste of brown butter!  Stir in cocoa and vanilla (do yourself a favor and use a good's a little known secret that the secret to great chocolate frosting is proper vanilla), remove from heat. Place confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Pour in cocoa mixture. Beat well (mixture will be extremely thick). Beat in milk, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.

Just a note about consistency.  I generally like a little extra milk in this recipe because it can be SO thick that it's hard to spread.  In this application, I actually left the frosting pretty thick, because I had plans that required a more stiff frosting. 

So let's start at the beginning, with the cake.  As I said, this post isn't about the cake, it's all about the frosting.  So, any chocolate cake recipe will do the trick.  
So, bake a cake:
I know that some people use leveling strips or rags that have been wet and wrapped around their cake pan in order to prevent the dreaded dome shape seen above.  While I have used these in the past, I find that they're far more necessary if you're making a cake that has a loose frosting.  With the frosting recipe I was using, I know that it's thick enough to fill in for a lot of boo-boos.

So, I did the most ghetto thing a baker can do...and I'm going to show it to you...

That's right...I squished it.
Before you judge, let me explain.  When the cake is nice and warm, right out of the oven, there's an opportunity for the first few minutes to force it to level out a little.  It actually works really well, it just feels horribly wrong.  Now, obviously if you're working with a delicate cake, or a really fluffy batter, this may not be the smartest move, but my cake was sturdy, manly even, and I wanted it just a little less poofy for decorating.  So, I squish.  I admit it. 
The down side is that I kinda scalped it a little...but no biggie.  I suppose I could have put a piece of parchment down before I squished.  Maybe next time...

So, I did a base coating of frosting, and a quick embellishment along the bottom (pardon the portable cake container instead of a nice cake plate, but I was preparing to transfer to work in the morning):
Then I wanted to try out my new's an embossing mat.  Technically, it's used for embossing texture onto fondant. I personally think fondant tastes terrible and I will go well out of my way to avoid using it, but I thought I could get this fantastic icing to hold up to some pressure and wanted to try it.  I chose this pebble pattern:
And then I made a mistake...I pushed it into the top of the cake thinking it would be fine and release on it's own.  I was wrong:
It pulled up as I tried to release it, chunks of frosting got stuck in the mat, and I needed to smooth it over and start again.  This time, I used a little Pam and sprayed the embosser first and it released quite well.  I got much better definition.
I'm still not sure if I like it.  I think without any color, it sorta looked like alligator skin, but I decided to roll with it. :)  I made some letters out of royal icing.  I use the standard Wilton recipe except I usually add some almond extract.  Make sure you use a colorless almond extract so you don't color your icing accidentally.  I like this one: 
I made the letters extra long, knowing that I wanted to them to stand up in the cake.  For the "B" and "D" and "O", they needed a little tail.   It worked out well.  Make sure you make yourself a few extras in case they get broken (or eaten).  I did these with a #3 piping tip, so they were fairly fat and not as delicate.
Pardon the desk it that genuine office flair, right?

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