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A Slice of Eggless German Chocolate CakeI always look forward to March as the start of our family’s birthdays for the year. The last is in August, so there’s quite a long dry stretch between the end of one year’s birthdays and the start of the next birthday season. But as I mentioned in my last post, we have two in March, and they are only eight days apparent, which catches us up on birthday festivities in the breathless space of a week.

Eggless German Chocolate CakeIf you are a baker, there is nothing you like better than other people’s birthdays. Your own, no matter how lovely, can never be quite as much fun, because people will insist on making your cake for you.

Ingredients for Coconut-Pecan FrostingI admit that they are right, that the birthday boy or girl really ought not spend their special day closeted away by themselves in the kitchen; but I still find it hard to relinquish the birthday cake duties.

Local ButtermilkAdd evaporated milkI believe I’ve held forth on this topic before, but it bears repeating that an extravagant, gorgeous layer cake is one of the most exciting creations of the kitchen, and I am sorry to have to miss out on it even one time a year.

Chop pecans Eggless Coconut-Pecan FrostingOf course, even if I could make my own birthday cake, it still would not be as special as making them for other people. The amount of labour and planning that goes into a celebratory cake is something that is best given as a gift. It would seem almost wrong to lavish so much time and care on yourself.

Fudge Frosting for  German Chocolate Cake Cool fudge frostingBut on other people’s birthdays, we bakers can throw ourselves into the task wholeheartedly.

Coconut-Pecan Frosting for German Chocolate Cake Fill cake with fudge frostingThis year, I made my mother (she’s the first birthday) a German chocolate cake, which, with three layers of cake, two decadent frostings, and a bouquet of hand-molded chocolate roses for decoration, is certainly a showstopper of a cake.

German Chocolate Cake frosted and ready for decorationArrange white chocolate leaves among rosesGerman chocolate has always been one of my family’s favourite choices for birthdays (possibly because it is so rich that no other event seems like a sufficient excuse for such indulgence), but I haven’t been able to make one for my mother in a long time, due to her egg allergy.

German Chocolate Cake with Fudge and Coconut-Pecan FrostingBut this year, I decided that it was time to finally end the German chocolate cake dilemma and make an eggless version. The changes were perfectly simple and the final result so indistinguishable from the original version that I wonder why I put it off so long.

A Cluster of Decor Chocolate RosesHowever, I think it is safe to say that the final result was decadent and impressive enough to make up for those few years of deprivation.

A Slice of German Chocolate CakeAnd by the most wonderful luck, Jane of The Hedgecombers has picked decorated cakes as the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats. Jane and Karen of Lavender and Lovage co-host this challenge, and I am delighted to be able to link this cake up with Tea Time Treats.

Tea Time Treats MosaicI am also submitting it to the We Should Cocoa challenge, which is organized by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog. This month Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than . . . is hosting the challenge, and she selected coconut as the ingredient to pair with chocolate. As all lovers of German chocolate cake know, it is the combination of fudge and coconut frostings that make this cake so irresistible . . .

ca865-we_should_cocoa_v3Finally, I’m linking up with the Shop Local challenge from Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary—for the second time this month! I used local buttermilk for the cake, which is much more delicious than the ultra-pasteurized kind they sell at the supermarkets. I love the mission of Shop Local, promoting local foods, and am thrilled to be linking up twice this month.

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Eggless German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan and Fudge FrostingsEggless German Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
 
For the fudge icing:
5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, very finely chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
 
For the coconut-pecan frosting:
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup unsalted butter, cut in small chunks
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups shredded, sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
 
For the décor chocolate:
5 oz. bittersweet couverture chocolate
2 ½ oz. corn syrup
 
Melted white chocolate chips, for piped decorations
 

Technique:

  1. The décor chocolate has to be made a night in advance. Melt the couverture chocolate over a double boiler and then stir in the corn syrup.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl lined with plastic wrap. Cover and let set overnight.
  3. The next day, dip the bottom of the bowl in hot water for a minute or two and then use the plastic wrap to help you lift the hardened décor chocolate out of the bowl. If not using right away, wrap the disc of décor chocolate first in wax paper and then in plastic wrap, and store it in a cool place. It can be made several days in advance.
  4. The cake layers can also be made the night before. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour the sides of the pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Beat in almost all of the buttermilk, reserving a few tablespoons. Add the vanilla.
  6. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Stir into the wet mixture and beat until smooth.
  7. Dissolve the baking soda in the reserved buttermilk and then quickly mix into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  9. Cool in pans on wire racks. If you make the cakes the night before, let them cool completely before removing them from the pans and wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap. Leave the parchment paper discs on the bottom of the cakes though, as this will help keep them from drying out.
  10. For the fudge icing, combine the chopped chocolate, sugar, and milk in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and creamy, 30-35 minutes.
  11. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely. You can speed up the process by nestling the bowl of icing in a larger bowl filled with ice water. However, the icing will remain quite loose, even after it is fully chilled.
  12. For the coconut-pecan frosting, combine the evaporated milk, butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and glossy, 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the coconut and pecans, and pour the frosting into a bowl. Don’t chill this one before you use it, as it does thicken up considerably and will become hard to spread. Furthermore, since it has no eggs in it, you really don’t need to be concerned about keeping this frosting refrigerated.
  13. Now that you have all your components prepared, you can start assembling the cake and decorations.
  14. When you are ready to make your chocolate roses, unwrap the décor chocolate and knead it until it is smooth and pliable on a surface dusted with cornstarch. To mold a rose, take a golf ball-sized piece of the chocolate and shape it into a cone. Then pinch off hazelnut-sized pieces of the chocolate and roll them into balls. You will need 16 of these balls to make a full-blown rose, 9 to make a half-blown rose, and 4 to make a bud.
  15. Take a ziplock bag and cut it along the two short sides so that it can open like a book. Place one of the balls of chocolate between the two “pages” and use your thumb to flatten the ball slightly. Then slide your thumb to the right and continue to further flatten one side of the ball, pushing the chocolate into a rounded, fan-like shape. Repeat for all the remaining petals.Flatten petals
  16. To assemble a rose, take one petal and wrap it snugly around the point of the cone you made earlier, making sure that the two sides reach all the way around and overlap each other.Wrap center petal around base
  17. Take another petal and press its base into the cone, at a level where the top of the petal is even with the point of the cone. Push the left side of the petal gently against the cone to attach it.Press base of petal against center
  18. Place the next petal so that it partially overlaps the attached side of the first petal. For the third and final petal of the first row, space it so that it overlaps the second petal on one side and is tucked under the unattached side of the first petal on the other.
  19. Gently press the unattached side of the petal in so that it joins the third petal. The first row is complete. If you want to make rosebuds, stop here.Wrap three petals in first row
  20. To make the second row, you follow the exact same procedure except you use five petals instead of three. Press five petals onto second row
  21. You should also angle the petals so that they tilt out slightly. Still keep the top of each petal at the level of the cone tip though. If you attach the petals further down on the cone, it will spoil the appearance of the rose.The second row complete
  22. If you want to go all the way and make a full-blown rose, you repeat the process again using seven petals. Wrap final row of petals
  23. Once you have all the petals on, press the bottoms of the petals firmly into the cone and pinch off the excess. This will pull open the petals and make the rose look more natural. You can also tweak and ruffle the edges of the petals to suit you, but don’t handle them too roughly as they can tear.Pinch off base
  24. After you complete each rose, set it aside on a sheet of wax paper. You should be able to get between eight and ten full-blown roses from this quantity of décor chocolate.Decor Chocolate Roses
  25. To make leaves for the roses, spoon a little melted white chocolate into a paper cone (or, if you don’t know how to make a paper decorating cone, you can use a Ziplock bag with a bit of the corner snipped off) and pipe leaf shapes onto a piece of parchment paper. Set aside to harden. (If you’re in a hurry, just pop them in the refrigerator for a few minutes.)
  26. To assemble the cake, use a long, serrated knife to trim the top of each layer flat. Don’t forget to remove the parchment paper discs if they’re still on the cake layers!
  27. Sandwich the layers together with thin layers of the fudge icing. Spread a smooth layer of the icing over the top of the cake and crumbcoat the sides of the cake with a thin layer as well.
  28. Place the frosted cake in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes to harden the fudge icing.
  29. Remove the cake from the freezer and coat the sides with a generous layer of the coconut-pecan frosting. If you don’t want the bother of icing the sides of the cake twice, you could just skip the layer of fudge, go straight to the coconut-pecan frosting, and not have to bother with putting the cake in the freezer at all. But I find that the end product looks much nicer if you have a nice smooth coat of fudge icing to spread the coconut-pecan frosting on. And besides, it means more fudge icing on each slice of cake, which can never be a bad thing.
  30. Arrange the roses and leaves you have prepared on the cake and use more melted white chocolate to pipe on a message and borders as desired.
  31. Eat and enjoy the fruit of all your labour!

Yield: one 9-inch cake

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