Another holiday weekend, another layer cake!!!
In a year that’s been pretty horrible (but starting to look up! and feel a little more, dare I say…normal??) we took opportunities to celebrate EVERYTHING to the max. Birthdays, half birthdays, Fridays, every single three day weekend…if there was even a whiff of a reason to make cake…WE DID IT.
I have no regrets.
I’m usually the self-proclaimed executive menu decision maker around here, but for the birthdays this year I let Remy take the reins and choose everyone’s birthday cake. It was so cute to see her cuddled up on the couch under a pile of my baking cookbooks while making her choices…a girl after my own heart.
The good and the bad part of letting her choose is that little mama does NOT hold back when it comes to cake. She has no sense of how difficult or not a recipe is, so she just goes based on looks and what seems appealing to her five year old stomach.
Obviously, that means multi-layer cakes with a gazillion decorations and all the sprinkles.
This truly amazing, decadent brownie hot fudge sundae cake was her choice for my husband’s birthday and it did NOT disappoint.
Fudgy brownie cake layers filled with strawberry cream cheese frosting covered in whipped vanilla buttercream topped with chocolate hot fudge drips, whipped cream rosettes, and maraschino cherries – it is so over the top fabulous and a MUST MAKE for any summer celebrations you have coming up. It completely captures the essence of a hot fudge sundae (minus the ice cream – though you can always serve it with some if you’re feeling extra).
Going into this, I was VERY intimidated and nervous about how the cake would turn out (looks-wise, especially). I was pretty sure I was going to have a “Pinterest versus Reality” situation on my hands since my cake decorating skills are very basic and often leave something to be desired.
I don’t know, something magical happened that day and this cake turned out looking EXACTLY like the one in the cookbook. Call it a birthday miracle (or just a collection of really solid, foolproof recipes) – whatever it was, I was pretty impressed with myself.
This recipe is from the Icing On the Cake book (which I’ve previously waxed poetic about here and here), which is becoming my go-to for all of my dressed-to-impress celebration cake needs. I attribute my newfound knack for cake decorating entirely to this book, with it’s easy to follow instructions and trustworthy recipes that just work.
You’ll need to make quite a few components for this cake, but none of them are difficult and quite a few need just a few minutes to prep. My advice is to read through the recipe before starting and make sure all of your ingredients are at the right temperature (butter, I’m looking at you) so that when you’re ready to bake there’s no waiting time.
I made the cake layers the night before I was planning on assembling the cake to ensure they would be cooled completely before starting. The brownie cake goes from perfectly moist to dry and overcooked very easily, so I would err on the side of it seeming a bit undercooked when baking. No one likes a dry chocolate cake. Otherwise, all of the components come together quick snap and I was able to make them and assemble the cake in about an hour on the afternoon of my husband’s birthday. The strawberry cream cheese filling and whipped vanilla buttercream can totally be made ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use – just make sure they come to room temperature before using them.
- 1 cup + 6 tbsp (310 g) unsalted butter, diced
- 10 oz (280 g) dark chocolate, chopped
- 2⅓ cups (290 g) all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (30 g) unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2⅔ cups (535 g) sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup (75 g) ripe strawberries, halved
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 oz (115 g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 cups (480 g) powdered sugar
- 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups (480 g) powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 oz (115 g) dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (60 ml) corn syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
- 1.5 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ to ¾ cup sprinkles
- 14-16 maraschino cherries
- Heat oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after each microwave burst. Stir until smooth and well combined, then set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, sifting if necessary.
- Combine the sugar, eggs, and egg yolk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed, about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour mixture in two batches, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each.
- Stop the mixer and pour in the butter-chocolate mixture. Fold until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. These can easily overbake so err on the side of a little underdone.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes, then remove from the pans and allow to cool completely.
- Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
- Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix together on medium-high speed, or until smooth and creamy. Decrease the mixer speed to low, then add in the powdered sugar along with 3 tbsp of the strawberry puree. Increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes.
- Combine the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 5 minutes or until fluffy and smooth.
- Combine the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low until the chocolate begins to melt. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, mixing until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Mix the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until thick, then add in the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until medium peaks form.
- Place one brownie cake top side-up onto a cake board or serving plate. Top with half of the strawberry cream and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula. Top with a second brownie cake and top with the remaining strawberry cream.
- Place the final cake layer on top.
- Using the whipped vanilla buttercream, ice the cake with a thin crumb coat. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Once chilled, frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
- Fill a small bowl with the sprinkles and use one hand to press the sprinkles around the bottom third of the cake.
- Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set.
- Once chilled, use a small spoon to drip the chocolate drizzle around the edges of the cake. Once you have made your way all around the cake, pour the remaining chocolate drizzle onto the center of the cake and quickly smooth it out so that it reaches the edges.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used a 1M tip) with the whipped cream. Pipe rosettes around the top edge of the cake. Place a cherry in the center of each rosette.
- If eating the same day, store at room temperature until ready to serve. If making in advance, store in a box in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.