Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, part one

(yes, that is Caroline learning to write with her feet...)

On Saturday we celebrated Caroline's second birthday with a Dora the Explorer party. She had a great day and charmed all of her guests. It's amazing how much she's changed in the past year. The talking is non-stop! And she's really gotten the hang of opening presents. She was doing well until she opened an Elmo...then her interest in everything else just about disappeared.

For the party, I made a chocolate cake. I found the recipe in the latest Taste of Home magazine. It was simple to put together and it got rave reviews. The cake was very moist and chocolaty and the frosting was rich and delicious. The recipe called for more decorations (see recipe for details) but I left it simple.

Chocolate-Strawberry Celebration Cake
Nora Fitzgerald, Taste of Home

1 pkg chocolate cake mix
1 pkg (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

2 cups butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup 2% milk

Garnish (I omitted):
2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled

Ganache (I omitted):
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine the first 7 ingredients; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Transfer to two greased and floured 9 inch round baking pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks and cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, powdered sugar and cocoa until blended; add the milk and beat smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.

Pipe or spoon the melted chocolate onto waxed paper in decorative designs; let stand until set. Arrange strawberries on top of cake. For ganache, place chocolate in a small bowl. Heat cream just to a boil; pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Drizzle over top of cake, allowing ganache to drape down the sides. Top with chocolate garnishes.

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