Chocolate birthday cake

My youngest son turned one last Saturday. Of course he didn’t know he did. But he did notice all the garlands and balloons and seemed to be very happy with them 🙂

It wasn’t really difficult to decide on the flavour of his cake. He loves most things sweet and he loves chocolate in particular. So chocolate cake it was. The last few weeks he wasn’t into his other favourite food item anymore (banana) so I skipped the idea of combining chocolate and banana.

Even though we didn’t invite a lot of people I made 2 different (mini) cakes and even started on a third one (tart actually, not cake, to be more precise the rhubarb and bergamot pastry cream filled tart I posted about yesterday). Today you’re getting the chocolate cake, the other one I’ll post about soon too 🙂

With two little ones running around (well actually one runs, the other crawls) I didn’t have that much time to make everything I wanted to make so I decided on an easy chocolate cake base. By easy I mean just throwing all ingredients in a bowl and mixing. It’s a recipe from I want Chocolate! by Trish Deseine, a book I’ve had for a while now. I only tried her chocolate glaze and brownies. The brownies were actually very very good, will have to make them again and blog about them. I really liked the glaze too. The cake recipe was so simple that I doubted a little bit if it would be good but it was. It was pretty sweet though and not very heavy on the chocolate. A perfect cake for a one year old. The only little downside was that you could see some of the sugar crystals in the crust. But since I covered the whole thing in buttercream and glazed it afterwards that wasn’t a problem.

Because I was running out of time I made a big batch of buttercream that I could use for both cakes and just flavoured them differently. The basis was a meringue buttercream to which I added melted bittersweet chocolate. This particular recipe poses no salmonella danger because the egg whites are heated till 75°C (160°F). So it was safe for everyone to eat.

The glaze was Trish Deseine’s too. What I like about the recipe is that it doesn’t contain corn syrup. Downside turned out to be that the glossy appearance disappeared after chilling. I’m not sure anymore but I think the glaze I used before didn’t have this problem as much.

I made the cake the day before T’s birthday and I let him taste all of the individual ingredients. As I expected he loved all of them and kept pointing to the glazed cake that was tempting him on the table 🙂

I made some small number 1 cookies and used them to decorate the cake. They looked a bit lonely so I added some buttercream stripes. I thought the cake looked ok but I can definitely use practice in decorating and piping buttercream.

As you can see from the pictures T loved the cake. He didn’t eat the entire piece because he wanted to smear it on his table, trousers, bib, hands and face too 🙂 I really enjoyed watching him make such a mess.

My oldest son R will have his 3rd birthday in less than a month but he’s much harder to please in the sweet department. Even though he loves chocolate too he doesn’t like cake. He would want a piece but he will only taste and not eat it. Usually he would even say he likes it. He doesn’t even really like cookies, at least not the ones I bake 😉

Last year I made him some cupcakes with marzipan cars, tractors, pigs and flowers. When I asked him the other day what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday he said he wanted a car cake. And not a big one but a little one. So I guess he liked the ones I made last year because he remembered them 🙂

I consulted A as well on what to make for R and he suggested making an ice cream cake because he does love ice cream a lot. Never would have thought of that myself somehow so I’ll be making him at least an ice cream cake and a small car cake too. And some more cake for the guests.

Chocolate buttercream (adapted from The Essentials of Baking by Williams-Sonoma and Dorie Greenspan’s buttercream recipe from a Perfect Party Cake)

2 egg whites

½ cup sugar

½ vanilla bean, scraped

170 g (1 ½ stick) butter, room temperature

100 g bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Heat the egg whites, sugar and inside of the vanilla bean over simmering water while stirring once in a while until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature reaches 75°C (160°F).

Whip the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy. Add 150 g of the butter and whip for a few minutes. Add the remainig butter. The mixture should have cooled down by this time. If the mixture curdles, warm it slightly over simmering water. Add the melted but cooled down chocolate and mix until incorporated. Use immediately or chill for up to 3 days in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before using it. Whip it again to make it smooth. If it curdles, warm it slightly over simmering water. Whip until smooth.

Chocolate cake (from I Want Chocolate! by Trish Deseine)

makes 2 15 cm (6 in) cakes

115 g (½ cup) butter, softened

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup flour

2 tbs cocoa powder, mixed with

2 tbs hot water

2 ts baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Grease to 15 cm (6 in) cake pans.

Place everything in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough into the two cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Cut of the tops of the cakes to make them horizontal.

Chocolate glaze (from I Want Chocolate! by Trish Deseine)

115 g (½ cup) butter

¼ cup water

200 g (7 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Put the butter and water in a saucepan on low heat. Remove from the heat when the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Allow to cool down for a bit but the glaze should still be pourable.

Put the cake on a wire rack that is placed over baking paper or a large baking sheet. Pour the glaze over the cake.

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25 Responses to Chocolate birthday cake

  1. courtney(aka glamah16) says:

    What a precious child and sweet Mommy!The picture of him with all the chococ mess was adorable. I cant wait to see the olders Birthday creations.I’m gping to use that meringue buttercream for a Baby Shower Cake I need to make next week.I think It will be safe and I liked the way it turned out before.

  2. Ginny says:

    Your son is adorable! The cake looks great! I would love that for my birthday! 🙂

  3. Emilia says:

    Your son looks like he had a good time 🙂

    That cake looks delicious and perfect!

  4. Sheltie Girl says:

    Happy Birthday to your little guy. It looks like he had a fabulous time on his birthday and with his chocolate cake. After looking at him I’d say your cake tasted really good.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  5. MariannaF says:

    hehe look at those photos, all that cake smudged everywhere!! it’s hard to believe we all did that when we were kids…and now as adults that would just look insane if we did that hehe! Happy Birthday to your little boy!

  6. Linda the cake is wonderful! I say very well decorated.

    Happy Birthday to the adorable one year old!!!

  7. proud grantparents…lipi…daj momcima veliku pusu…

  8. Astrid says:

    Congratulations to both of you! He looks adorable, both with and without chocolate make-up… And your cake is very handsome and elaborate. The glazing is perfect and smooth and shiny, and the ones really stand out with the stripes around them.

    Makes me feel guilty I didn’t try harder for my one-year old last week! I simply made an Alice Medrich tiger cake… without the pepper.

  9. jummy, next year i *won’t* miss it 😦

  10. Rosa says:

    A wonderful cake! Very well decorated! Wow!

    Your son looks very cute and those pictures are hilarious!



  11. Ivonne says:


    He is ADORABLE!!! And that cake looks sooooo good!

  12. Hannah says:

    Oh, what a cutie! Glad to see that he enjoyed your hard work- The cake was lovely, too. 🙂

  13. arfi says:

    so cute! he really loves the cake, i take it hehehe…

  14. linda says:

    Thanks everyone 🙂

    Astrid – I love the tiger cake, great idea for my oldest son as he refers to himself sometimes as a tiger 😉

  15. he is the cutest little thing ever! Congratulations, Linda, on such a lovely baby, and happy birthday to him!

    The cake looks delicious and I can tell by the look on his face it was. 🙂

  16. Nancy says:

    I don’t know what looks more scrumptious, the cake or the baby. Delicioso!

  17. Gloria says:

    He is lovely, and Im happy he really enjoy the Cake!!! Beauty!!! xGloria

  18. ovenhaven says:

    Happy belated birthday, lil baby T! Gorgeous cake, but I’ll have to agree with all the comments; you have one really adorable son, Linda! 🙂

  19. Lien says:

    congratulations (though a bit late) to your wonderful boy. I totally loved the eaten and smeared picture. What a lovely boy!

  20. Miss Ifi says:

    Wow.. I want a piece of that cake it just looks sooo delicious!!!


  21. Miri says:

    Happy birthday to your sweet son, Linda! The cake you made for him is gorgeous and looks so tasty!

  22. Maninas says:

    What a gorgeous little boy your have!

    Happy birthday, T! 🙂

  23. Y says:

    hehehe.. that’s such a cute picture of your little boy! A good one to embarrass him with when he turns 21 😀

    Looks like a great chocolate cake too, by the way!

  24. Riley says:

    One more a new recipe!!! Thank you Linda very much. Your son is so nice. And I have shown your photos to all my family. I hope he didn’t eat the whole cake. It is so big for him. I want a piece. I will let you know about my results.

  25. Astrid says:

    Hi Linda, thanks for your comment on my blog today! I was wondering when you mentioned the tiger cake what you were referring to… I had already forgotten which cake I made for my one-year old! So I searched on your blog and found this post.

    If I’m leaving another comment here it’s just that I want to explain that that “tiger” cake was not in the shape of a tiger. It’s just a fancy name for a marble cake, and I baked it in a bundt-type pan… Good but quite boring compared to yours!

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