Think about it. There are really only two days in a person’s life where it’s practically mandated that you eat cake. But only one of those is applicable to everyone. It’s really quite a democratic cake consuming situation. I mean, not everyone has had a wedding, but there isn’t one of you reading this who hasn’t had a birthday. Therefore, ipso facto, your birthday is an officially sanctioned (by the governing board of these types of things), CAKE DAY!
There are certain rules and regulations when it comes to your cake day. When the calendar rolls around to your turn, the laws of physics, thermodynamics, and sensible nutrition simply do not exist. In other words, your consumption of sanctioned confection has no calories. Seriously, not a single one. It’s like a miracle. Go ahead, look it up. And since there are no calories, feel free to consume slabs of the stuff for whatever meal you happen to be bellied up for. Cake for breakfast? SURE! Lunch? Well, yes. Dinner? Indeed. It’s the one day of year you are in the zone, so go for it.
You’re thinking “sure, that’s all just dandy Karin, but what if I wasn’t in a cake-accessible zone on my natal day?” No problem. A little-known loophole of the cake statute allows one postponement if for any reason you were unable to consume your officially sanctioned slab of butter/sugar/flour goodness on your birthday. Of course, significant paperwork must be filed, so you may as well eat while the eating is good. After all, it IS your birthday…
As it happens, today is MY cake day. And to that end…
Dark Chocolate Mini Cakes with Chocolate Port Wine Glaze
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup water (room temp)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 TSP vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 TSP baking soda
- 1/2 TSP salt
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP cups packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
For the filling:
(Here I used an almond based filling, but apricot, raspberry or cherry jam work well too)
- 5 TBSP Frangipane
- 1 TBSP warm cream
- 1 ounce melted bittersweet chocolate
For the Chocolate Port Glaze
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 ½ TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp instant espresso powder
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup your Port wine (you could substitute a fruity red wine if you have no port)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray four 1-cup ramekins with cooking spray and line the bottom with a 3″ circle of parchment. Spray parchment.
In a mixer, cream the butter with the two sugars until fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time until mixed. Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled. Mix together the warm water, milk and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, espresso powder and baking soda together. To the butter/sugar mixture, beat in flour/cocoa and water/milk mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Fill each prepared ramekin with 1/2 cup of the batter (you will have about 1 cup of extra batter once you are done. It freezes well so save for cupcakes or another two mini-cakes at another time). Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until a tester comes out clean about 20 to 24 minutes total, rotating pan halfway through the baking time. Cool cakes in dishes 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge, invert onto the rack and cool completely.
While the cakes are cooking, make the filling and glaze:
To 5 TBSP frangipane, mix in 1 ounce melted chocolate and 1 TBSP warmed heavy cream. Set aside until the cakes are completely cool.
For the glaze: Melt the chocolate, butter, salt and espresso powder together in a bowl over a double boiler and whisk together until smooth. In a separate pan, bring the port to a boil. Once the chocolate mixture is completely melted, add in the powdered sugar and mix until completely combined. (It will get thicker but don’t worry ). Add in the hot wine and mix until fully combined and spreadable.
With a serrated knife, trim any domed top off the cakes so it is flat and even. Flip the cakes over so the bottom is now the top. Slice the cakes in half along the equator making two layers. Spread 1/4 of the frangipane mixture over the bottom layer and replace the top. Pour 1/4 of the glaze on the top of the cake, and with a spatula or butter knife, spread over the top so it begins to drip down the sides. Use spatula to spread the glaze over the sides, covering the cakes completely. Chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes until the glaze is set.
To serve: These are much better at room temperature than right out of the fridge (although, they are pretty freakin’ good then too.) Stick a candle in it, light ‘er up, sing “Happy Birthday to ME” and fully enjoy your officially sanctioned cake day!
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