Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GF Peanut Butter Chocolate Monkey Cake

My baby turns 2 today, and to celebrate my wild child, I decided on a monkey cake. She's really a climber, and gets into everything, and so she's my monkey. I found some cute ideas on the web, and then adjusted them to my own tastes, as well as making it gluten free. If you can't tell by now, special occasion cakes are my favorite, and I really love making cute cakes for my kids, but they still have to taste delicious.

I started off with my favorite chocolate cake recipe. These girls developed such a great recipe, that I just don't mess with it. Now, I didn't want a full two layer cake for this and so I actually ended up shaving cake off each 9 inch layer, and putting the leftovers in tupperware to save for a trifle later. For 2 9in round cake layers I bake them for 25 minutes, especially when I'll be cutting some off, it's best to make sure that the cake cooks completely and doesn't sink in the middle.

After letting the cake layers completely cool, I made the peanut butter frosting. I thought that peanut butter would be the perfect complement to my chocolate cake, and that it would be just the right color for my monkey's face. I'm always looking for great new frosting recipes, and therefore I'm usually trying new ones out while I'm making something special like this. I tried a recipe from the Cake Doctor that was really great before, but wanted to try something new. Martha Stewart Living last month had a whole section on cupcakes, and I decided to try out her frosting recipe, it looked like a good color for what I wanted. So, I used her recipe. I covered the entire cake with it, and while it was still soft, drew a face outline in the cake, and placed my chocolate wafer eyes on it for a reference point. I was honestly a little bit disappointed in the flavor, which I found wasn't sweet enough. I had intended to cover the cake with chocolate frosting, but wanted to make sure that it would taste really great to bring the whole cake together. I really wanted to use a ganache, because I happened to have plenty of heavy cream on hand, and decided that I would just let it cool in the fridge for a while, and try it out.

3/4 c heavy cream
8 oz (1 1/2 cups) Hershey's special dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to boil. Be sure to stir the cream so that no skin forms on it. Remove from heat and pour over the choloate chips and add the corn syrup. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. You can leave it like this, but I added the vanilla to make it a touch sweeter. Stir the vanilla in after it's smooth.
In order for me to be able to use the ganache as a frosting, I let it cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Then, I simply used a butter knife to spread it around the face, and then down the sides. I then spooned a small amount into a ziplock sandwich bag, cut the tip off, and drew in the simple nose and mouth. I baked my favorite flourless peanut butter cookies, and pushed them into the sides of the cake to create the ears.

It's a simple, fun kid's birthday cake, that I'm also planning will taste wonderful for all the grown-ups who'll be eating it.By the way, everyone loved the cake, though the adults appreciated it the most. I thought it was worth adding a cutaway of the cake to see the layers of the peanut butter frosting and the texture of the cake. Wouldn't even know it was gluten-free!