Happy birthday, babycakes. How you went from being a tiny little thing in my arms to the long-legged, horseback-riding, swims like a fish, history-mad child with such eclectic tastes (Tchaikovsky, the Beatles, rhubarb, ancient Greece, Ukrainian dance, Milton Meltzer, "O Brother Where Art Thou") still mystifies Daddy and me :).
This with candles, and this, are for you, sweet pea:
Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake
(adapted from Country Living magazine, May 2005; originally titled Gianna's Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake)
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp. salt)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
[2 tbsp. anisette liqueur -- I omit this because in this household it would defeat the purpose of a lovely chocolate cake; however, I think 1 tsp. of real almond extract in addition to the vanilla would be very nice]
1 cup boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9" round cake pans. Set aside.
2. Bring a small saucepan with at least one cup of water to boil, and maintain boil.
3. In a large bowl of a mixmaster, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, balking powder, and baking soda and whisk together. Beat in oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla and, with the mixer set on medium speed beat for 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add 1 cup boiling water.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Unmold the cakes and return to the wire rack until completely cool.
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1-1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
1-1/2 tsp. confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Beat the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar until soft peaks form. Gently fold in granulated sugar and cocoa until combined.
To assemble cake: place one layer on cake plate. Spread a third of frosting over the layer. Sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips. Top with the remaining layer and spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Top with candles and serve, at the end of a long day of fun with family and friends, with sliced strawberries, a heap of birthday presents and lots of love.