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Let’s get the party started with this whimsical pastel layer cake (packing a triple chocolate threat inside)!
Are you into the unicorn craze? The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino is not for me (I believe that coffee should taste like coffee not sherbet), but I have to admit that I loooove all of those super cute cakes, cupcakes and cake pops decorated like pretty little unicorns that flood my Instagram feed. Today’s party cake is definitely inspired by the trend, but while there’s no unicorn horn per se, all of the sweet pastel colors and overlapping rosettes and stars scream unicorny-ness.
But unicorns weren’t the only inspiration for today’s cake. Nope, the true inspiration was far more important. This cake (and coordinating party dress cupcakes) were created for a special 11 year old girl. I partnered with Take the Cake, a local organization that hosts parties for children and families that couldn’t otherwise provide them, to create a cake and cupcakes for this sweet girl’s very first birthday party.
I learned that she loved chocolate (I went with a triple threat chocolate cake), fashion (party dress cupcakes) and baking shows (trendy cake decorations) so I set out to create a cake and cupcakes that would fit the bill. She also has an affinity for chocolate crunchies (girl after my own heart), which if you’re familiar with Carvel ice cream cakes, you know are the best part of the cake. So yep, some homemade chocolate crunchies are sandwiched between layers of moist chocolate cake and whipped chocolate ganache filling in this chocolate lover’s dream.
Now, I know that not everyone is a chocolate fan (sadly I live with two nay-sayers) so I whipped up some cupcakes for those that are vanilla in their tastes (both literally and figuratively). I iced them with ruffly buttercream skirts and popped in mini cookie pops to finish these party dress cupcakes. I know they’re not exactly runway-ready, but hopefully the birthday girl appreciated the fashion element. I haven’t included a recipe or tutorial for these today, but I do plan to share a party dress cupcake recipe with you in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
This pretty pastel cake is actually an easy cake to decorate and very forgiving. You’ll spend most of your time prepping…baking the cake, whipping and tinting the icing, and filling the piping bags. Once filled, just start piping little rosettes and stars in a variety of colors and sizes. Just keep piping until you don’t see any open spaces and even better if you overlap a little to create a perfectly imperfect cake.
I was once again so honored to work with Take the Cake to contribute to the birthday girl’s big day. After recently celebrating my own son’s 11th birthday, it was impossible not to take a minute to consider how fortunate we and he have been that he’s only known celebrations for his big day. It’s never been a question for him of “Will I get to celebrate?”, but “How will we celebrate?”. Not everyone has that advantage.
I appreciate that this organization realizes that sometimes focusing on the little things can have as great an impact, if not greater, than the big. I truly hope that this chocolate-crunchie, Cake Boss-loving girl made sweet memories at her party and pocketed a little magic unicorn dust to carry with her throughout the year. Happy Birthday!
- Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup boiling water
- Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chopped
- Chocolate Crunchies
- 1 - 10 oz package Oreo crumbs or crushed Oreo thins
- 1 bottle Magic Shell Chocolate Sauce you'll use about 2/3 of the bottle
- Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
- 12 oz unsalted butter 3 sticks
- 1 lb confectioners sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- *pink blue, green, yellow and purple gel food coloring
- **pastry bags a variety of small and fine start tips
Chocolate Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat 2 - 8 inch round baking pans with non-stick spray. Measure and cut parchment rounds to fit in the bottom of each pan and place in bottom.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add buttermilk, eggs and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well until combined.
Slowly add in boiling water and mix to combine.
Pour into prepared pans and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pans for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan, peel off the parchment rounds and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Whipped Chocolate Ganache: Heat heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour cream mixture over. Let stand for 5 minutes and then stir until blended.
Place bowl in refrigerator for about an hour, stirring occasionally until ganache thickens to a spreadable consistency.
Remove from refrigerator and beat on high until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Cover and reserve.
Mix Oreo crumbs with magic shell. Spread on a sheet tray and refrigerate until firm.
Fluffy Buttercream Frosting: Whip butter on high speed with a whisk attachment until fluffy, 2-3 mins.
Gradually add confectioners sugar and mix until combined. Add vanilla and whip for 3-5 mins on high speed until light and fluffy.
Separate buttercream into 5 small bowls and use a drop or two of food coloring in each to reach desired color. Stir well to combine.
Assembling Cake: Slice the top off of each cake to create a nice, flat surface.
Divide each cake in half to create four layers.
Place one layer (save your best for the top layer) on a cake plate and spread one third of the whipped ganache over the cake layer. Repeat two more times with the cake and whipped ganache. Top with the last cake layer and press down gently.
Spread a very thin layer of buttercream (any color) over the cake, just enough to give the piped decorations something to adhere to (it doesn't need to completely cover the cake.)
Fit five pastry bags with different star tips (alternatively use one color at a time) and fill with buttercream.
Pipe rosettes and stars in a variety of sizes over the entire cake. Vary the colors and sizes to create some interest.
Slice, serve and celebrate!