Sandra’s Aries Birthday Cake Recipe
At risk of this turning into a food blog – and what would be so bad about that, you’re saying? – I’m passing on the steps and ingredients to create the birthday cake you see above. Caution: You need 2-3 hours to put this together & clean up.
3 – 9″ cake pans
parchment paper (not necessary but works better than greasing pans)
double boiler – or saucepan that can balance inside a larger saucepan
note: smaller pan must hold at least 5 liquid cups.
small frying pan
2 shelves in oven
several size mixing bowls
measuring cups and spoons
flat blade (for spreading frosting)
recommend heat resistant glove
cream of tartar
chocolate cake mix (Yes! I CHEAT!)
Ingredients by steps:
I prefer Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Fudge. You can make from scratch, but really not worth it. IMHO
vegetable oil (not olive)
3 eggs whole
1/2 c butter (1 stick) ROOM TEMPERATURE (softened)
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder (my preference is Hershey’s)
2 c powdered sugar (sifted)
1/3 c milk (minimum – you’ll need a little more)
note: WARM slightly in microwave
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Red Raspberry Jam – I love Stonewall Kitchen, but other brands will do.
3 oz (half a package) Slivered Blanched Almonds (to be toasted)
Meringue-like Topping (known as 7 minute frosting):
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Put it together:
- grease 3 cake pans. Coat with cocoa powder instead of white flour. MUCH easier if you use parchment paper so guaranteed not to stick. Use both.
- mix according to directions
- using 1 cup measure, distribute batter evenly in 3 pans
- bake in 350 oven. Put shelves close together so baking as even as possible
- took about 18 minutes for 2 on top. Bottom shelf took couple of minutes longer
note: I use toothpick to test
- remove pans to rack or gas burners on top of stove and let cool 15 minutes. No more.
- remove layers from baking pans and set aside
TOAST ALMONDS while cake is baking.
- heat small skillet to hot on stovetop
- put almonds in pan – NO OIL
- stir constantly with wooden spoon
- lift up and down from fire if getting too hot
- keep toasting – KEEP TURNING – as almonds turn golden.
- remove from heat and keep stirring.
note: almonds will continue to toast in hot pan
- when desired color is reached, turn onto a plate and spread almonds to cool
CHOCOLATE FROSTING (makes about 1 1/2 c)
- soften butter in a small-medium mixing bowl (room temperature or few seconds in microwave)
- mash with rubber spatula
- stir in cocoa and salt, blending with rubber spatula until smooth paste
- using low to medium speed on electric mixer, alternately add sifted powdered sugar and warm milk
- beat on medium speed until spreading consistency and very smooth
- blend in vanilla extract at end
- Choose layer with highest top and set aside
- Using a bread knife, slice off rounded top of two remaining layers so they are relatively flat on both sides
- put one layer on cake plate
DRESSING the cake layers
- spread chocolate frosting generously on top of layer 1 (on cake plate)
- spread carefully (not thick) red raspberry jam on top of chocolate
- place layer 2 on top
- spread chocolate frosting generously on top of layer 2
- sprinkle toasted almonds, covering surface well
- place layer 3 (with rounded top) on top of layer 2
TOPPING with 7 minute frosting
note: this makes enough frosting to cover a cake. I pile it on top to show the layers. If stiff enough, topping will stand on its own and hang over the edges as above.
- place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water and egg whites in the top of a double boiler (or smallish saucepan over larger one)
- beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute
- place pan over boiling water.
note: to avoid grainy frosting, make sure water doesn’t touch bottom of the top pan.
- beat constantly on high speed for 7 minutes (this is when I recommend a heat-resistant glove)
- remove from boiling water (heat) and beat in vanilla
- check consistency – MUST stand in peaks. Beat more if necessary.
- spread on cake right away
- sprinkle toasted almonds before frosting sets
- when frosting sets, it forms a delightful soft crust while the inside remains gooey – thus I call it “meringue-like”
Be sure to cover remaining cake under a cake dome, as the meringue frosting will get gooier over time.
Store any left-over almonds in an airtight container to sprinkle on salads etc.
Whew! Did I really do all that????