Turning Two Never Tasted So Good!

Could you say "No" to this face? I think not. I'm not made of stone, people. A few weeks ago I was asked by my friend Mary to help plan the party of the year for this handsome little man. It's a major milestone turning 2 years old, is it not? No longer a baby nursing a bottle and almost a man just as soon as you let go of the pacifier and can fully grasp the concept that food goes in your mouth and not on the floor (I believe I've dated a few who were just barely out of this stage themselves.)

I must have been absent the day they handed out the wanton need to have children because I've never had the desire myself ~ partly because I never really felt like I was old enough yet and mainly because I've never met the right person. But this cutie pie makes me feel all tingly in my nether regions. I'm thinking Mary should just turn him over to me one night when he's cranky and experiencing one of those "terrible two" moments and it will be enough to make me celibate for the rest of my life. But while the euphoria lasted, I decided this little prince needed a cake to remember for his big day.

This sinfully rich, decadent chocolate ganache cake is from one of my all-time favorite chefs, Ina Garten. The book Barefoot Contessa Parties! was given to me years ago and page 88 is one of the many dog eared pages. The cake is typical Ina style ~ overly impressive in appearance and unbelievably easy to make with very few ingredients.

The recipe as written makes only 1 layer which is enough to put anyone into a sugar coma but that just wouldn't do for the birthday boy. Mary and I decided to turn it into a 3 layer cake with raspberry mousse sandwiched between the layers, dripping with rich chocolate ganache and garnished with fresh raspberries. Oh Lordy! I wish I'd taken a picture of the other older children camped out in a complete circle around the cake just waiting for it to be sliced. I don't think they ever took their eyes off of the tower of fudgy chocolate.

Happy birthday John Wyatt and I wish you many, many more!

Chocolate Ganache Cake
by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

1/4 lb butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 (16 ounce) can Hershey chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Butter and flour an 8 inch round cake pan (see note ), then line the bottom with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in the syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until JUST combined (overbeating with make the cake too tough).

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the pan.

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze. Do not refrigerate.

Just a few side notes....the recipe indicates that you should use an 8" round cake pan but I have my doubts that it wouldn't overflow. We used 9" and they worked perfectly. Also, the cakes freeze well. Cool completely and wrap really well in plastic wrap. Pull out of the freezer a few hours before final assembly and let thaw.



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