Ever since I made Brett an epic 3D Cheeseburger Cake 6 years ago, I have been trying to out-do myself. We had been dating for nearly a year, but this was the first birthday cake I ever made him - or really the first cake I made truly just with him mind, and I was really going for that WOW-factor. I wish I had pics - it was a fully-loaded mega cheeseburger, in cake form. I don't think I surpassed that mammoth of a cake, but this year's Mocha Rum Cake might be a close second.
For his big 3-0, I used a few of his favourite things: honey, peanut butter and DONUTS! It was awesome. From there, my make-your-husband-an-amzing-birthday-cake game took a turn for the worse. Last year, poor Brett went birthday cake-less. I was about 5 months pregnant and we were in the middle of moving. And while 32 is kind of a boring year to celebrate, it was time this husband of mine deserved a real sweet treat. We've had one heck of an awesome year and it was time to celebrate this amazing new dad, my best friend, and the coolest/smartest/most patient/caring/loving guy I know. Plus, I really wanted to step up my game after last year's foul, and I think I might have done just that.
Brett used to hate coffee with a passion. He despised it. Out of the clear blue one day, he ordered a latte. I was shocked. I think he was too.
From then on, he was hooked. That first latte was practically thick with caramel sauce and dripping in sugar. But now? Brett drinks his coffee nearly black and can down twice as many cups as me each morning. It's probably a good thing that his love affair with coffee started when it did - that caffeine sure helps with Baby Huff's early morning wake-up calls!
For the cake, you guessed it - full of COFFEE! In fact, I created an ombre coffee filling - each with varying amounts of coca and espresso. Think of it as your vanilla latte, drip coffee, and mocha layers. The cake itself is a variation of my favourite chocolate cake - but with rum because 1) we're adults 2) it's fun and 3) YUM! And because I love a good chocolate drip, the cake was drizzled with a chocolate-rum glaze. For a bit of flair, I added some gold-dusted, chocolate-covered espresso beans and some flicks of gold luster dust all over. Looks pretty galaxy-esque, right?
Mocha Rum Cake
- 1 3/4 cups all-pupose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1 cup hot coffee
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour four 6-inch pans and set aside.
- Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the oil and sugar until combined.
- With the mixer on medium-low, add in the eggs and vanilla. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture.
- Stream in the milk and mix until incorporated.
- Add in the rum.
- Add in the second half of the flour and mix until just combined.
- Stream in the hot coffee and mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.
- Evenly distribute that batter between the pans and bake for about 24 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
For the filling and frosting, I used my tried-and-true Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream. If you saw my "How To Ice A Cake" post, then you know how much I love this stuff. Not only does it go on so smoothly, it is also silky, not-too-sweet, and perfect for flavouring. The recipe for what I would consider my "medium-sized" buttercream is below:
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk together(by hand) to combine.
- Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium-high heat.
- Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Once hot, carefully return the mixer bowl back to the mixer.
- With the whisk attachment, beat on high for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until medium-stiff peaks. The mixture should be cool.
- Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
- With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla bean seeds, vanilla, and butter - a few tablespoons as a time.
- Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until silky smooth.
Tips: If while mixing the buttercream looks curdled, just keep mixing. The butter was probably too cold. If the buttercream looks soupy, try popping it in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes. The butter was probably too warm. Then return to mixing.
For the "Mocha" layer: add about 1 ounce espresso and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder to 3/4 - 1 cup buttercream. Spread on about 1/2 -3/4 cup between the first and second layers of cake (from the bottom up).
For the "Coffee" layer: take the remaining buttercream from the mocha layer and mix in about 1/2 cup vanilla buttercream. Spread on 1/2 - 3/4 cup of this mixture between the second and third layer of cake.
For the "Vanilla Latte" layer: take the remaining coffee-flavoured buttercream (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup) and mix in another 1/4 cup vanilla buttercream. Spread between the third and fourth layer of cake.
The filling was not exact, but you get the idea. Just start with a rich, dark buttercream, and keep adding in the vanilla to lighten up the color and flavour as you go. Crumb coat and ice the entire cake (I turned this cake teal - as you can see) with the remaining vanilla buttercream
For the Chocolate-Rum Glaze:
- 2 ounce semi-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon dark rum (or vanilla extract)
- Place the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the cream begins to steam and chocolate starts to melt.
- Remove from heat and whisk until chocolate is combined.
- Stir in the salt and rum.
- Cool for about 10 minutes before use (glaze should be cool, but still syrupy)
Happy Birthday, Bret!!