Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birthday Cake with a Kick

Yesterday was Taylor's birthday.  One of his law friends also had her birthday yesterday and hosted a double-birthday party at her house.  Tacos were on the menu, but no one had specified anything about dessert.  So... I thought I'd use some of the strawberries we received in our vegetable share this week to spice up a layer cake.

But, speaking of spices, and thinking of tacos, I said to myself, "Why not give this sweet, chocolatey, coffee-y cake a hearty kick?"  So, to each cake I made, I added a nice dash of cayenne pepper.  It was just the thing.  Have you ever had a [South American Country] mocha latte?  It's along the same lines. A tiny bit of some sort of pepper is added to the chocolate and it gives the already-hot drink a delicious warmth to it.

Which, as it turns out, is fabulous with strawberries.

To keep the cake moist (thanks, Smitten Kitchen!), I mixed some (unsweetened) strawberry jam with a bit of water and a tsp of vanilla and brushed it on each layer before placing the strawberries.  It helped the berries stay on, too, which helped the whole cake stay together (a good thing since this cake had several blocks to be driven, on Boston roads, by my, um, enthusiastic husband (really, though, he was very gentle with the cake. Thanks, Love!)).

I even added a layer of strawberries to the tip-top of the cake, since I had extras, and proceeded to dollop the frosting on.  I used a basic (vegan) buttercream frosting and added about a tablespoon of finely ground coffee.  I decreased the sugar by half and added a bit more butter, whipping it up longer in the mixer, since I didn't want a super sweet frosting (I will eat the cake and leave the icing if it's too sweet!), and I figured the coffee would mellow out the sugar.

Looks kinda vanilla-bean-y, huh?
It was a big hit!  Everyone kept checking with me: "Is the cake supposed to taste like this?"  "Is there... some sort of.. pepper in this?"  I reassured them that I had indeed intended such a taste, and they told me it was great!  The birthday kids also really loved it, which was all a baker could want. I guess it made their night, in a way (I mean, really, a three-layer chocolate-cayenne-coffee-strawberry buttercream-coffee-frosting cake would make any night for me).

We had a good time at the party. Taylor made sangria (quite well, as a matter of fact--new party feature chez Black, methinks) and we had margaritas. The tacos were tasty and loaded with fixings. The company was in good cheer, despite the approach of doom (i.e., 1L finals), and we all enjoyed the chance to relax a bit. Hooray for good friends and fun parties and delicious food.  And praise the Lord for my wonderful quarter-of-a-century-old Husband :)  I love you about a guh-zillion (and a half).

Enjoy the pictures :)

Mo & Taylor's Birthday


  1. Two thumbs up. I would give you three, but I don't have that many. I will take note of your vegan frosting for Kristiana's birthday. You are such a wonderful wifey. Our friend makes dark devil cookies with cayenne and they are quite a conversation point. No one could stay away from them.

  2. That sounds incredible! I may have to try that out someday.