Today’s post is a special one, I’m skipping forward quite a bit in this project – but there was just too fitting of an occasion to pass up this opportunity! My husband graduated with his bachelor’s degree last Friday, and to celebrate, we had a huge party with our friends and family. And while my husband does not share the same deep obsession with Gilmore Girls as I do, he had no objections to having a chocolate tassel cake with two pounds of chocolate covered espresso beans.
This past weekend was a total whirlwind. We had been looking forward to this day for a very long time now. If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog this far (THANK YOU, btw) you know that Scott and I took an unconventional path through our youth, and even though we married young by choice – please don’t compare me to Dean, we’re on year 7 and counting! – we had to work really hard to figure out what we wanted to do in life and how we wanted to get there. We didn’t want to get a degree that wouldn’t be utilized, but at least one that kept a door to future opportunities open if we chose to take them. Scott would even tell you that he probably wouldn’t have finished school had we not been there for one another to encourage and support each other to make it through. I’m super proud of him and how much I have seen him grow in maturity and intellectually during the past decade.
Episode 2.21 – Lorelai’s Graduation Day, in my opinion is one of the more overlooked graduation episodes of the series – but it’s such an important one. I can totally identify with how hard Lorelai worked to earn her degree. I love that Rory was so adamant about Lorelai being proud of it, too (sweet season 2 Rory, minus the whole skipping school to see Jess and missing her mom’s graduation thing) Without getting way too sappy, don’t ever let someone look down on you for how you do life. You do you!
Getting back to this cake though, it took a lot of ingenuity to construct the tassel cake. Thanks to my extensive viewing record of the Great British Baking Show and Ace of Cakes I had a plan, but I was a little unsure of the execution. I replayed the scene of Sookie bringing in the cake several times try and figure out how she did it. See below for reference:
First of all, I did Google if it was even safe to put 2 lbs of chocolate covered espresso beans in a cake. I didn’t find anything conclusive other than the serving size on the nutritional facts was half a cup, and there were seven servings in the box. Figuring there would be much more than seven slices of cakes to serve, I felt confident I wouldn’t give all our friends heart attacks. I did, however, give them all black teeth from having to use an entire container of black gel dye to get the buttercream to match. Sorry guys.
I chose to crush the coffee beans in my NutriNinja rathen than just breaking them up in a bag, and I’m glad that I did. I gotta say, this is one Sookie recipe that fell a little flat for me. I didn’t use my chocolate cake recipe included in the blog due to my time crunch. Instead my husband chose dark fudge cake mix and stirred the crushed beans into the batter. After it baked the larger chunks of beans turned out super chewy, but our sweet friends gave good feedback anyway and said the cake was good.
I made the mortar board out of two bags of melted milk chocolate chips spread out over a silicone mat on a cookie sheet. This is where my inner Masterchef came out. As I was assembling the cake layers and securing the chocolate top I raced against the clock to crumb coat and ice the final layers of the constructed cap before the chocolate began to melt (again – I’m in North Texas, so it’s basically already summer here). I did pretty well with the exception of the front left corner. I was a little droopy there in the end, which some said they just inferred as an artistic liberty – LOL. I also learned that I could probably never be on Masterchef because my running time start to finish on making this baby was SEVEN. HOURS. I’ll never know how anyone can accomplish a cake structure on a baking competition show in less than five hours. Must be all that Hollywood magic.
This cake was more sentimental than anything, and a fun challenge for me just to see if I was capable of doing it. I’ve been baking basically since I got my Easy Bake oven in the third grade, so putting the pieces all together wasn’t too bad. Luckily, my chocolate mortar board with a slight incline cake layer blueprint worked as planned and there were no major incidents. I wouldn’t recommend baking the chocolate covered espresso beans into the batter though. Instead, I would recommend maybe making a “pinata” cake where the beans would pour out from a middle layer or even spreading the beans in between layers in the frosting. As I’m typing this out now it seems like these were both infinitely better options. Oh well, for that reason other than just using two boxes of cake mix and a box full of chocolate covered espresso beans, there’s not much in the way of a recipe to include this week. I will, however, leave you with my favorite basic buttercream recipe. I added Valrhona cocoa powder to darken the base frosting to get a deep black color.
Basic Buttercream Frosting
3 cups of powdered sugar
4 sticks (1 lb) of unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1 c Valrhona cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip the softened butter for 2 minutes on high in a stand mixer. Butter should be pale and nearly white in color. Add in the vanilla extract. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder one cup at a time, mixing until fully incorporated between additions. Whip the buttercream again for 2 minutes on high. Enjoy!
Modified from Cake Style’s buttercream recipe: