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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dylan's 3rd Birthday Cakes

Dylan had very specific criteria for his third birthday party. Well, by third birthday party I mean third birthday party cake. He requested a moon cake, with astronauts, chocolate, white frosting. So we celebrated our beautiful boy, the love of our lives, turning the big 0-3 with a white frosted chocolate full moon cake complete with little astronauts. Our crowd gathered at the playground across the street and, of course being paranoid that we wouldn't have enough cake, I made some strawberry cupcakes as well. As a summer baby, a strawberry cake always seems appropriate - remember last year's?

PS. There is a whole lot of butter and sugar going on here so if that makes you nervous avert your eyes.

For the moon cake I made a classic dark chocolate cake and stirred chopped cookies into cream cheese frosting to give the surface some texture. Then I placed little piles of yogurt covered raisins on the top to mimic moon rocks. I found the plastic astronauts at the local toy store for pennies. 

Dark-Chocolate Moon Cake 
from Martha Stewart 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans 
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled) 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar 
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature 
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in chocolate and vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

3. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes*. Cool in pans 15 minutes; run a knife around edge of each pan, and invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
*My cakes took only 20 minutes to bake so check yours sooner!

4. Set a rimmed baking sheet upside down on a work surface. Place one cake on sheet, and spread top with 1/3 of frosting. Place second cake on top, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Using two wide metal spatulas, carefully transfer frosted cake to a serving platter. 

Cookie Cream Cheese Frosting 

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature  
1 cup confectioners' sugar 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped chocolate sandwich cookies 

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and cookies, stir to combine. 

Strawberry Cupcakes 
from Martha Stewart

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising) 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
2 1/4 cups sugar 
3 large eggs 
1 large egg white 
1 cup whole milk 
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2. Reduce speed to low. Mix milk and vanilla together.. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with dry. Stir in chopped strawberries. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each full.

3. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Frost with strawberry buttercream (recipe below) and top each with a small berry.

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar 
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces 
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, pureed

1. Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition.

3. Switch to a paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add strawberry puree, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, or cover, and refrigerate.


  1. That's so funny. Very specific cake requests must be a 3 year milestone. My now 6-year-old requested a carrot cake in the shape of a dinosaur, with 5 lollipops on top for his 3rd birthday. That's actually how I discovered your site - your raw carrot cake was perfect for shaping and everybody loved it. Cheers to making little boys' dreams come true (even if they are silly little requests like these)!

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