Today I am twenty-six. A quarter century of life behind me.
I really feel like twenty-five taught me a lot. What I love, what I don't. What and who really matters to me. How to embrace the good fully, completely, and honestly. How to let things go and brush things off. That I don't have to like and/or please everyone, or even pretend to. That things aren't as bad as I sometimes think they are, and that things are far better than I sometimes realize. What I want to be, who I want to be with, where I want to end up. How to be better and more and enough and myself. That I am so incredibly lucky for all that I have.
Big things, important things, worthy things, I guess. Things to get me at least through twenty-six.
Sometimes I think that my life is so much different than others around me. That's probably true in some ways and not at all in others, but it can, at times, feel that way. I suppose the weight of decisions, responsibility, disappointment, and reality has something to do with it. These have been reoccurring themes throughout the last year that have, I think, taught me all that stuff up there.
But, today, I am twenty-six. And despite all the seriousness behind/within this post, I am happy today! And I feel like I have so much more to come as I say goodbye to twenty-five. There is cake after all.
I don't typically go for chocolate when selecting desserts, but lately, I've had a craving for a seriously moist chocolate cake. I tried many a chocolate cake recipe leading up to this one. And if this cake is anything, it is moist. It's other things as well--rich, decadent, soft, delicious. Exactly what one hopes for in a chocolate cake. Or what I hope for anyway, and that clearly matters on your birthday!
I frosted this cake with a berried mascarpone frosting. I sort of have a thing for the chocolate and berry combination. Moist chocolate cake + creamy berry frosting + fresh berries + cake flags = birthday victory! Obviously...
I threw a cake-eating party for myself, and it looked like this.
The Moistest Chocolate Cake with Berry Mascarpone Frosting
adapted from Sweetapolita
210 g (1 2/3 cup) all purpose flour
400 g (2 cups) sugar
90 g (2/3 cup plus 2 tsp.) dark cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk, room temperature
240 ml (1 cup) good quality coffee, hot (I used Cuvée)
120 ml (1/2 cup) canola oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8x3 cake pans--butter, line bottom of pan with parchment, butter paper, and dust with flour.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Transfer bowl to mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
In a separate medium bowl, lightly beat together eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla. Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix on medium speed just until combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotate pans, and bake another 7-9 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out almost clean (with just a few crumbs). Cool cake in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a blunt (butter) knife along edges of cake then gently invert onto racks to cool completely before assembling.
56 g (1/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
230 g (2 cups) confectioner's sugar450g (16 oz.) mascarpone, softened
113 g (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened
68 g (1/4 cup) berry preserves, divided (I used black raspberry)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter and sugar until combined. Add mascarpone and cream cheese and mix just until combined, no more than one minute. (Be sure not to overbeat, or frosting may separate and/or become too loose.) Stir in preserves with a spatula.
2-3 Tbsp. prepared frosting
136 g (1/2 cup) berry preserves
In a small bowl, stir together preserves with frosting. (I found that adding a little bit of frosting to the preserves thickened it a bit so that it would hold better in between the cake layers. Feel free to add more or less frosting to suit your desired consistency and taste.)
This cake is lovely on its own, but I do love it with a couple of handfuls of berries.
Cake will keep a couple of days in the fridge in a cake keeper. Let sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Head over here for a great how-to on assembling and filling a layer cake, here for a how-to on frosting a layer cake, and here for some cake-baking tips.