When I asked Joe what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, his response was less than ideal. Each year, I try to produce an over-the-top, inventive concoction to celebrate. Past cakes include double chocolate, chocolate/peanut-butter and even a chocolate/bacon pairing. I thought, for sure, he would want to keep with the chocolate theme this year. You can imagine how confused I was when he told me he wanted something healthier.
Both of us have been working hard to visit the gym, run more often and eat better. With the start of the summer season and the beautiful weather, it’s likely we’ll have to don a swimsuit and head to the beach at some point, and I personally want to make it as painless as possible for myself and everyone in my company when the moment arrives. Still, I can easily be convinced to forego a short run or gym session in favor of a cold beer or an impromptu slice or two of pizza. I’m no stranger to treating myself.
Birthdays, to me, are an even bigger reason to indulge; the one day a year to celebrate you should involve your favorite meal, lots of snacking and, at the very least, a perfectly delicious, beautifully decorated birthday cake. Even though the birthday boy had requested a healthier option in lieu of a birthday dessert, I knew I had to veto his wishes and find a spectacular recipe to commemorate his day. I needed something so delicious and immaculate that he couldn’t possibly be angry with me for going against his request.
Blue Velvet Cake
1 ¼ cup cake flour, sifted
1 ¼ cup sugar
11 egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ounces blue food coloring
1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and flour two 9-inch circular cake pans. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ½ cup of the sugar, and the cocoa powder. In a large bowl, beat together the egg whites, vanilla extract, cream of tartar and salt until the mixture holds soft peaks. Beat in the remaining ¾ cups of sugar and the blue food coloring until the mixture begins to hold stiff peaks.
Using a spatula slowly and gently fold in ¼ cup of the flour mixture at a time. Be careful not to stir the mixture, just keep folding until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Pour 1 cup of blueberries into the batter and fold them in as well. Pour the batter into cake pans and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Loosen the sides from the pan and gently flip each cake over onto a place. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before icing.
White Chocolate Icing
Adapted from Diana’s Desserts
11 ounces of white chocolate chips
3 ½ cups of confectioners sugar
½ cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon of salt
Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl stir together sugar, milk and vanilla. Add the butter and salt and beat until smooth. Stir in the cooled white chocolate. Refrigerate until firm enough to frost the cakes, about 30 minutes.
Most of us are familiar with red velvet cake, a traditional, southern dessert with a touch of cocoa powder, lots of red food coloring and cream cheese icing. I came across this recipe for blue velvet cake while perusing other blogs for ideas; with one, long, loving glance at the photo of the cake, I knew it was going to be my next recipe. Before I had even read the ingredient list, or went through the directions, I was sold. Much like its distant, red hued cousin, blue velvet cake incorporates cocoa and dye, but takes things a step further with the addition of fruit.
The egg white requirement, which will set you back almost a full dozen, is responsible for giving the dessert an angel-food cake like sponginess. Anything less airy would probably take away from the texture and flavor of the blueberries, which stand out thanks to the delicate cake. Don’t expect to taste an overpoweringly berry flavor – the blueberries just peek through. Though the recipe calls for two ounces of food coloring, I used about half that; I find that too much dye can affect the flavor and scaled back. The result was still a shade of blue, though not as Smurf-like as the original recipe would have created. Cream cheese icing would work well, but I wanted a true twist. The white chocolate flavor truly compliments the light texture and faint blueberry flavor of the cake.
In the end, I guess you could say this was a healthier birthday option when compared to Joe’s previous birthday cakes. For one, it didn’t feature bacon, and the small serving a fruit is better than none at all. The birthday boy was pleased I had used my better judgment and made something sweet. He definitely ate his words. And lots of cake.