Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chocolate Ghost Cake

Look! I baked! I know, it's been a while. I wasn't properly inspired lately. But now Halloween is days away and I was dying to try this cake, seen originally at
Martha Stewart's site. I didn't follow either recipe for her cake or icing and was mildly annoyed there was no further instruction on even how to make the cake decorations. So I winged it.

I had to buy the 6-inch round pans which were smaller than I anticipated. Think top tier of a wedding cake. They also took longer to bake because they were taller than normal when I split the batter into thirds for three layers. There was much testing; many toothpicks were used but it turned out around 30-35 minutes and, thanks to Ina Garten's lovely recipe, they came out still moist.

The little ghosts perched atop the cake were relatively easy but they're pretty delicate on the whole. Icing isn't strong enough to hold the marshmallows together; toothpicks work much better. I forgot I didn't have little marshmallows to make the mini-ghosts so I had to simply pipe them on, like the bigger ghost's tops. The eyes were drawn on with just a toothpick dipped in black coloring except for the little guys; those are chocolate jimmies (because the coloring just won't stick as well to buttercream icing).

The thing is kind of a nuisance to store. It's so tall! After the marshmallows, it's nearly a foot tall. Too big for a cake stand cover, too delicate decorative top to cover with foil. Maybe syran wrap. I've since frozen it but I recommend if you're going to serve it, to do so directly after assembly. It will not travel easy... But Ina's chocolate cake is delish and even if you don't end up making this cake specifically, give the regular cake a try. Mmm. Chocolate...

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups good cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
3 tablespoons brewed coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 6-inch round pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high speed until light, approximately 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix the batter only until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.


1 cup Crisco Shortening
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2 tbsps heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (measure then sift)

In your mixer bowl, beat the shortening until it's smooth, add the butter and beat together until smooth and light and fluffy. Add smaller amount of the heavy cream indicated in the recipe and the vanilla and mix well.

Add half the powdered sugar and mix for 5 minutes on low-med speed. Add remaining sugar and mix well. Add more cream or powdered sugar if necessary to adjust the consistency

Cut rounded tops off to make even layers of cake. Cover each of two layers with icing; turn third layer upside down using flat, smooth bottom as the top of the cake. Spread thin layer of icing over entire cake to act as "crumb coat". Freeze cake to allow icing to set completely (2-3 hours). Spread remaining icing over set coat, generously (but save a little for tops of ghosts).

Assemble marshmallow ghosts with toothpicks onto top of cake.