Category Archives: Birthday

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}If you’re wondering where the cherries and chocolate cake are in this Black Forest Cake, well, this isn’t your average Black Forest Cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Ohhh no. This is my take on a hometown favorite: Black Forest Cake from Swiss Pastry Shop in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and grandmother used to take my sister and me to lunch at Swiss Pastry Shop several times a year, and while the sausages and German potato salad were delicious, we were all really in it for the cake. In fact, I think most people who go to lunch at Swiss Pastry Shop are in it for the cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}There’s a reason the citizens of Fort Worth are so in love with this cake—it’s absurdly good, and unique for that part of the world. Made by layering crisp almond dacquoise (meringue with nuts) and whipped cream, and coated with thin chocolate sprinkles and shaved dark chocolate, this cake is hardly a cake at all. It’s pure bliss! Cold, crisp, super-light, creamy, nutty, chocolaty, naturally gluten-free bliss.

Full disclosure: it’s probably my all-time favorite dessert.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}I’ve thought for years that Swiss Pastry Shop’s Black Forest Cake was unique to them—I mean, I’ve never seen or heard of it anywhere else. Turns out, it’s actually a Swedish cake and unrelated to the cherry-chocolate version, only sharing a name (Schwarzvaldtårta). Who knew?!

(Cambridge Cowgirl and Wikipedia. They knew.)Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is a carbon copy of Swiss Pastry Shop’s cake—I cannot figure out how they get their dacquoise so thick!—but it tastes *exactly* right and hit the spot on my birthday a couple weeks ago. I made a teeny-tiny version on a whim, because if I had to turn 35 in a pandemic, there was *going* to be excellent cake. And, well, it just doesn’t get much more excellent than Black Forest Cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}I had no plans to put it on the blog (two home bakers have already posted their own versions), but other Black Forest Cake-deprived friends kept asking for it, so I tested and re-tested six times and here we are. Until the day that Swiss Pastry Shop figures out a way to ship, anyway.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake requires some skill and a time commitment, but is not actually difficult to make. Here are some tips for success.

-Don’t make this on a humid day and keep all your equipment squeaky clean. Whipped egg whites are temperamental.
-For the best flavor and texture in your almond dacquoise, grind your own raw almonds. I tested this recipe with both store bought almond meal and almond flour, and while they both work, they don’t hold a candle to fresh ground almonds.
-You don’t have to trim the layers after baking, but it makes them easier to stack and results in a more streamlined finished product.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}
-Use good chocolate sprinkles. The stuff in the ice cream topping section will work, but India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli or hagelslag are the very best. I promise you’ll find ways to use up the leftovers.
-Don’t wait to serve this cake—day-of is ideal. As with many whipped egg white-based things, the dacquoise will weep and degrade over time. If you have leftovers, I have included freezing instructions at the end of the recipe.
-If you want to make a tiny cake, halve the recipe and spread the dacquoise in two 4-inch circles before baking. Alternatively, make one 8-inch layer, then use a 4-inch ring to cut out two layers. Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Whew! Okay, I think that’s all. This one was a labor of love, y’all. Not for yours or mine, but for the love of cake. Really excellent cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}
inspired by Fort Worth’s Swiss Pastry Shop
makes one 8-inch cake

Almond Dacquoise:
1 1/4 cups whole raw almonds*
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (granulated sugar will work)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt

Whipped Cream:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream, very cold
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

For assembly:
1/3-1/2 cup high-quality chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Read the recipe all the way through before beginning. There is a large time commitment (mostly hands-off).

Egg whites will not whip properly if they are not treated well. Do not attempt this on a humid day. Before beginning, please ensure that all equipment used in this recipe is very clean and dry. I like to wipe down the bowl(s), whisk, and mixer attachments with vinegar before starting the recipe. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Preheat oven to 250F. Using an 8-inch round pan as a template, use a pencil (or other writing implement) to trace 8-inch circles onto two pieces of parchment. Turn parchment pieces over (pencil-side down) and place on two rimmed baking sheets. Set aside.

Make the almond dacquoise. Place almonds in a food processor and process for 30-45 seconds, until finely ground. Do not over-process (it could veer toward almond butter). Measure out 1 1/2 cups of your homemade almond meal. Stir in the cornstarch. Set aside.

Stir together sugar and cream of tartar. Set aside.

Combine egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with a very clean, dry whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until very foamy—the whisk should be leaving faint tracks. Turn speed up to medium-high. With the mixer running, add sugar to egg whites 3-4 teaspoons at a time. This will take a few minutes. Mixture should start to look glossy and begin stiffening up. Turn mixer speed up to high and beat continuously until stiff peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.

Add half the almond meal to the egg whites and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold it in. Repeat with the remaining almond meal.

Divide mixture into the circles on the two prepared pans (you may pipe if desired). Use an offset spatula to gently spread the mixture to the drawn circle edges.

Bake dacquoise for 1 1/2 hours. It will puff and spread. Do not open the oven at any time.

Turn off oven, leaving the dacquoise inside for another 1 1/2 hours (or up to overnight). Remove layers from oven and let cool completely. At this point, layers may be gently, tightly wrapped in plastic and stored in a dry place for a few days.

To trim layers, gently place an 8-inch round cake pan on top of one layer. Use a sharp knife to slice off edges—the top will fall slightly during this process, so don’t be alarmed. Repeat with remaining layer.

Make the whipped cream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the cake. Place one layer of dacquoise on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over it and then gently place the second layer of dacquoise on top. “Frost” cake on the top and sides with remaining whipped cream (you may have some leftover). Refrigerate cake for 15 minutes.

Line a surface with a piece of parchment and place the cake (on stand) on top. Use your hand to gently apply chocolate sprinkles to the sides of the cake. Scatter shaved/chopped chocolate over the top of the cake. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top.

Refrigerate cake for a couple of hours before slicing and serving. Slices will not be perfectly clean. Holding the exposed edge with a bench scraper (or a clean hand) seems to help.

Cake may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a day. The dacquoise will deteriorate over time.

Leftover cake may be sliced, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen. Triple-wrap frozen slices with plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Note:

You may use 1 1/2 cups store bought almond meal or almond flour in place of the whole raw almonds. Stir the cornstarch into it and proceed from “Stir together sugar and cream of tartar.”

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream

 My birthday is this weekend! I’m going to be 31 😁 I feel a little old, but I’m also really enjoying this phase of my life. 

In my 31st year, I have:

  • seen my family on six separate occasions (together and individually), including my 30th birthday trip to Santa Fe, a super-secret surprise trip to Austin for E3’s birthday, and visits to NYC from my mom, both sisters, and sister-in-law. That’s the most time I’ve spent with them since I moved to NYC in 2007. The older I get, the more I appreciate the amazing people who made me who I am.
  • spent some time off the grid in Maine, and enjoyed it way more than I ever expected. I can’t wait to do it again in a few weeks.
  • catered a dinner party for 300 people. I had three amazing helpers, and it went off without a hitch despite the six weeks of panic that preceded it. I hope to do it again this year…because I am insane.
  • moved. And moving in New York is horrible. Heck, moving anywhere is horrible. But I love my new apartment. Shoutout to my mom for coming to help me on the coldest weekend ever.
  • navigated my way through some major life changes and lessons with some modicum of grace and dignity.
  • opened my own Netflix account. #adulting
  • realized that I am still figuring out who I am. I hope this never ends.
  • made a lot of cookies. And eaten a lot of cookies.
  • really fallen in love with my friendships. My friends really stepped up and took care of me this year when I didn’t feel like I could do it myself. There’s nothing like laughing ’til you cry when you feel like your life is a mess. Thanks, guys.
  • started a baking blog. I dreamt of having this blog for six years before hitting “publish.” Thank you for reading, liking, sharing, and making the recipes. Thank you for making this little corner of the Internet what it is: a place filled with sugar and ridiculousness. Without you, I’m just talking to myself. 

…that got a lot mushier than I intended. 

This weekend, I’ll be celebrating at a cookout with those I hold nearest and dearest. My friends are making dinner, and I can’t wait! They offered to make dessert too, but being me, I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. I’ll be there with pie 😊

Of course, I thought about cake, but with the heat we’ve been having, I am afraid the frosting would melt. But I just can’t let my birthday go by without cake, so I’ve been celebrating a little early with this Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream. The cake is moist, fluffy, and so, so easy. The best part? No mixer required! I’ve been making this cake for two years, and I can safely say that it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. And that’s coming from a self-proclaimed vanilla person. 

The frosting is a tribute to one of my very favorite things: chocolate malts. Oh yes, I love a chocolate malt. I just *have* to have one at least twice a month. It only seems appropriate that I’d use it as inspiration for my birthday cake frosting. This is a super easy chocolate buttercream with a hefty dose of malted milk powder. It’s creamy, dreamy, chocolaty, malty magic. If malt isn’t your thing, I recommend replacing the cup of malted milk powder in the recipe with an additional cup of confectioner’s sugar. It’ll still be delicious 😊 

As for decorating, I went for a sort of naked cake approach here, using the bulk of the frosting to frost the top and fill the layers. This recipe makes enough frosting to fully frost and fill a two layer 9″ round cake, if you’d like to cover the whole thing. If you want to pipe, you’ll need to make 1.5 times the recipe. No matter which route you choose to go, your cake will be fantastic.

If you don’t have a reason to make cake this weekend, I give you full permission to use my birthday as an excuse. We’re Internet friends after all. And friends who eat Malted Chocolate Buttercream together stay together, right?!

Have a great weekend! 

 Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream
cake recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes one two layer 9″ round cake

For the pan:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)*
1 cup strong, hot coffee (decaf is fine)

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup malted milk powder (I use Carnation)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and cocoa powder. Use a pastry brush to paint the entire insides of the pans with the mixture. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl to sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 23-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder. Mix in malted milk powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, and beat on high for two minutes. Add more cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached. Fill the layers and frost as desired. Decorate with chocolate chips, if desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, and in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

If you don’t have buttermilk, put one tablespoon of white vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup, then pour milk up to the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for five minutes, until curdled. Use as instructed in the recipe. Do not use skim or fat free milk.