We’ve always been a birthday pie family. My dad makes the world’s best blackberry-blueberry pie (we’re not going to argue about it – I’m just right on this one) and for our birthday’s each year he always makes 2 pies. One is solely for the birthday kid and the rest of the family would share the other. And it had to be done this way because my brother’s 6th sense is knowing when there’s fresh pie and when there is fresh pie it’s like he loses all self control and inhales a double slice then doesn’t put his plate away because he knows he’ll be back in less than 5 minutes for ‘just a sliver’. I’ve come to realize staying out of the kitchen for these 5 minutes takes about all the strength he can muster and we all just laugh about it, and sometimes set a timer.
So I turned 34 this month and since my folks have become snowbirds I’ll be requesting my birthday pie when they get back this summer and while I’m thinking about giving up on birthdays, it was a great excuse to bake a cake exactly the way I wanted.
Chocolate but not too heavy and it needed a fruity aspect. Most importantly it had to have cream cheese frosting. But not just any cream cheese frosting. A few years back I found a recipe in Good Housekeeping for Brown Butter Frosting which has changed my cake eating life. The recipe is paired with a Spiced Parsnip Cake (which is also delicious) but this frosting is so amazingly decadent and grown-up tasting that it should be shared with so much more than just one cake.
I started where I always start when I need a fantastic recipe: Smitten Kitchen. Her Chocolate Stout Cake recipe is meant for a bundt pan so I upped the ratios a bit to make two, thick, 9″ cakes then went my own way once they were in the oven.
For that fruit element I mentioned I went into the pantry and came out with my last half-pint of Blackberry Sage Jam that I made last summer. This sweet/tart/earthy jam goes so beautifully with the nutty-buttery-creamy frosting that I almost opted to forgo the cake entirely (instead I left a lot in the bowl and considered the ‘clean up’ dinner that night – and of course had cake for dessert). I went with a more rustic look and didn’t frost the sides but left the middle and top a bit thicker. I find that each bite of cake should have equal frosting and doing it this way allows me to move around the frosting once on my plate a little easier – but to each there own. You can frost your own cake however you want!