Chocolate cakes are some of the most popular desserts with children and adults. They're so popular, many people come across them on a regular basis throughout the year, and you might find yourself competing with many other experienced bakers, or serving yours soon after your guests have had another. Make your chocolate cakes stand out by using some creativity in your presentation, pairings and ingredients. When it comes to creative spins of the traditional chocolate cake, you can find more than a few ways to think outside the cake mix box.
"Gingerbread" Men Cakes
During the holidays, marry chocolate cake with the shape and color of gingerbread men. Follow the directions on any chocolate cake mix and bake the cake on a sheet pan. Your goal will be to take a cookie-cutting mold and cut your chocolate cake in the shape of gingerbread men. If you don't have a large sheet pan, pour thin layers of cake mix into two or more regular diagonal baking pans. Bake the cakes, then let them cool before frosting.
For your frosting, make a delicious caramel frosting to mimic the coloring of a gingerbread man. To make enough to cover one box of cake mix, you'll need:
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1-3/4 to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir over low heat until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat, stir in milk and let cool. Slowly add powdered sugar, stirring vigorously to blend it in. Add several drops of water or the vanilla if it becomes stiff and difficult to stir.
Spread the frosting on the sheet cake and let it cool enough so that you can cut gingerbread men without the frosting pulling off.
Cake in a Cup
Serve individual "cup cakes" filled with chocolate cake, whipped cream or crème fresh and berries. This recipe starts similar to the gingerbread men cake, using a commercial chocolate cake mix, or your own, baked on a sheet pan so you can cut forms. Bake the cake and let it cool. When it's cool, cut cake circles using a form slightly smaller in diameter than the cups in which you will serve your cake treats. Don't worry about serving small pieces of cake—you can stack extra layers of cake, if you like.
Place the first cake circle in the bottom of the cup. Place a spoonful of cream on the cake, then add several pieces of berries. Use enough cream and berries to cover the cake circle. You can use whole blueberries or raspberries, or cut strawberries in two or three pieces. Place another cake circle on top and repeat the process. Finish the layering with the berry/cream mixture on the top. Add a mint leaf for color and presentation.
Grand Slam Cake
If you're having guests to watch a baseball game or bringing one to a Little League or adult softball game, offer fans a Grand Slam cake. This cake features four different types of chocolate.
The first layer of chocolate will be the cake itself. Use a commercial mix or your favorite recipe. Place your cake mix into two or three equal, round cake pans and bake.
The second layer of chocolate will be a chocolate mousse you put between your cakes after you have let them cool. You can buy a chocolate mousse mix at your local grocery store, usually in the same section with the puddings and gelatins. Spread a layer of chocolate mousse between each layer of cake, making sure not to go past the edges. You will want to frost the outside of your cake without having the frosting coming into contact with the mousse.
The third layer of chocolate will be your frosting. Use a frosting that contrasts your cake. If you made a dark chocolate cake, use a lighter frosting, and vice versa. Trim the outsides of the cake to remove any jagged edges before you start frosting. Frost the cake from the bottom up, making sure to reserve enough to top the cake.
The fourth layer of chocolate will be white chocolate shavings you sprinkle around the cake and into the frosting. It will be easy to drop the large or small shavings onto the top of the cake, but you may need to place the shavings by hand on the sides of the cake. To prevent the shavings from melting in your hands or picking up fingerprints, place them in the refrigerator to get cold. Use thin, plastic gloves to quickly pick up the chocolate shavings and place them into the frosting on the sides of the cake.