So, what exactly does a blogger, obsessed with baking make for her own birthday? Well, the answer is simple: Whatever she wants! I give away almost everything I bake, and that gives me the freedom to try flavor combinations or techniques that I find intriguing – regardless of if they're my personal favorites. So when it's my birthday, I make whatever strikes my fancy. This year it's a pinata chocolate cake filled with muddy buddies!
Even though my sweet 5 year old requested a vanilla cake filled with various sprinkles, and my husband prefers red velvet; I knew it had to be a dark, rich, intense chocolate with dark chocolate frosting. (My 2 year-old was just excited for cake. Any cake.)
I also knew that I wanted to incorporate my all-time favorite junk food – Chex cereal muddy buddies. If you're not familiar with muddy buddies (also known as puppy chow), I'm so sorry because you're totally missing out on a chocolaty, peanut buttery, powdered sugar treat that is crunchy and seriously addictive. (I've been known to eat a cup of this stuff at a time. A cup – 8 ounces. At one time.)
Then I had to figure out how to incorporate both of my loves – chocolate cake and muddy buddies into one birthday treat. The answer was to make a pinata cake. Pinata cakes and cookies are all over Pinterest these days. They're basically multi-layered cakes or cookies that have another confection hidden inside. When you break them open, the hidden treat comes tumbling out.
Making a pinata cake is really easy. I baked a three-layer cake. Once the cakes were cooled, I cut out a 5-inch circle out of the two bottom layers of the cake. Then while building the cake, after putting the two bottom layers together with dark chocolate frosting, I filled the hole in the center of the cake with my Chex muddy buddies. Then I topped the two bottom layers with a solid top layer.
With the cake flavors decided, I turned my attention to how I would frost the cake. I wanted something fancy, but also easy. My choice was a petal cake design. To decorate the cake, I simply crumb coated the entire cake. (Crumb coating a cake simply means I put a thin, thin, layer of frosting all over the cake to lock the crumbs into the frosting. If you skip crumb coating a cake, you run the risk of little bits of cake crumb getting into the final layer of frosting.)
Then I used a #10 Wilton tip to pipe a series of vertical dots.
After piping each vertical row of dots, I used a small offset spatula to drag half of the dot out into the frosting, creating a petal effect.
Continue the same process all the way around the cake, and you get something like this:
For the top of the cake, I used the same technique to make an actual flower. It's such a simple technique that yields pretty stunning results.
So, even though I didn't make that my sweet daughter requested or that I knew my husband would prefer, I think everyone was excited about this beauty.
Here's my favorite shot from my birthday. My 5 year old sitting on my lap, and me giving her kisses and so much love. Spending my birthday with my healthy and happy family made it my absolute best birthday yet!
Chocolate Pinata Birthday Cake Filled with Muddy Buddies
The recipe for the chocolate cake is the same recipe I used to make this Diary-Free Chocolate Cake. You can find the recipe and instructions here. (You can easily make this cake with dairy by simply replacing the almond or rice milk with cow's milk.)
Ingredients for the Muddy Buddies (or Puppy Chow)
This recipe is adapted from the Chex cereal box.
4 1/2 cups Chex cereal (you can use any variety, but I used the rice version which is gluten free)
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chips)
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Instructions for the Muddy Buddies
Measure the cereal into a large bowl, and set it aside.
Place the butter, peanut butter, and chocolate chips into a medium bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, mixing between each increment until it is melted. Once the mixture is melted, add the vanilla. Mix to combine.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal, and mix to combine.
Place the cereal mixture into a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Then pour the powdered sugar into the bag as well. Shake the cereal until it is completely coated in the sugar. Set aside.
Ingredients for the Dark Chocolate Frosting*
15 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate with 70% cocoa), melted and cooled
1 1/2 lbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups of powdered sugar
3/4 cup of sour cream
3/4 tsp of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*In order to decorate the cake as shown in my post, it takes quite a bit of frosting. If you plan to just frost the cake without the petal decorations, you may want to consider only making half of the frosting recipe.
Instructions for the Dark Chocolate Frosting
Melt the chocolate. I usually melt chocolate in the microwave, but since it's 15 ounces of chocolate (nearly a pound), I chose the melt the chocolate over a double boiler. That simply means that I placed bowl filled with the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Warm until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the melted and cooled chocolate, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
Slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
Add the sour cream, and beat until the frosting is fluffy.
Instructions for Assembling the Cake
Please read the post above. I describe how to build a pinata cake, and how to frost the cake.
Yields one 3-layer 9-inch cake.
This link is posted to these parties.