It’s unlike me to bring out the bling, but I like an element of surprise. You know, expect the unexpected…
Two things happened.
Firstly, I had this magical fantasy sprinkle mix I made a little while ago, and I was waiting in anticipation to bring it out and throw it onto a dark and dreamy chocolate cake. And two, it was Kyle’s birthday.
The stars had aligned!
The result, this magical Midnight Galaxy Dream Cake, (with matching cupcakes of course, because if you’re going to go O.T.T then do it properly).
This cake fitted Kyle well. He loves the world of make-believe, and he loves chocolate.
This cake is dark, rich dreamy chocolate layers. It’s paired with a salted caramel filling in the centre of the cupcakes, and I used the salted caramel to layer inbetween the cake layers too. The frosting is a dark, silky rich, salted chocolate ganache, enriched with butter, sugar and more cocoa powder. It’s decadent, and perfect for a birthday spoil!
Not to mention the dramatic effect of the black on black, to achieve that midnight sky effect.
You’ll see in my notes below, I do reference the challenges with achieving a perfect black color, which I don’t feel I did, but I got as close as I possibly could without compromising the taste of the cake, and the frosting.
Before I move onto the recipe, I want to credit one of my greatest inspirations, a baking rock star in my eyes;
Rosie the creator of @Sweetapolita.
She has not only run a beautiful, creative, and hugely successful baking blog for years, but she has also published her own bake book, and she has launched her own sprinkle shop. If you want to see pure perfection in the art of cake making and decorating, go and check out her work.
I adapted her dark and dreamy double fudge cupcake recipe to make this midnight galaxy dream cake and cupcakes, and I was hugely inspired by her exquisite and exciting sprinkle range. Whilst Rosie’s sprinkles are a bit too expensive for me to order and have shipped over to South Africa, because the shipping is sadly so expensive, I was able to draw on her idea of mixing sprinkles to achieve a vision of something I had in mind, and fulfill a creative idea.
Thanks Rosie for all the inspiration, and I wish you all the very best!
Midnight Galaxy Dream Cake / Cupcakes
Makes 3 x 6” round cakes
(cake recipe adapted from Sweetapolitas Dark & Dreamy Double Fudge Cupcakes)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
1 cup good quality cocoa powder
2t baking soda
1t baking powder
1 1/3 cups granulated (caster) sugar
1 cup whole milk
½ cup strong coffee
6T canola or vegetable oil
2T vanilla essence
2 whole eggs
2t black gel food colouring (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C, and line the bottom of your baking tins with parchment paper, and grease the sides. If making cupcakes, line the cupcake tins with paper cups.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar, then use a whisk to mix together.
- In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, slowly beat the eggs until combined. Add the oil, vanilla and milk and combine on a low speed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two parts, mixing after each addition until combined.
- Add the hot coffee to the mixture, and combine. The mixture will be quite “runny”.
- Finally add the gel coloring, starting with half a teaspoon at a time until desired colour is achieved.
- Pour the batter evenly between the three cake tins. If making cupcakes, only fill the cups halfway.
- For the cakes, bake for +- 30 minutes, and then test centres with a toothpick or skewer to see if they come out clean. For cupcakes, bake for 12 to 14 minutes, testing centres with a toothpick or skewer to see if they come out clean.
- Remove the cakes/cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes, before carefully transferring out of tins onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Salted Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
1 cup cream
200g dark chocolate drops
1 cup salted butter (softened)
1 cup dark, good quality cocoa powder
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
2t vanilla extract
Black gel colouring (approx. 3t)
Pinch of course sea salt
Sprinkles of your choice to decorate
- In a pot over a medium heat, warm the cream until just boiling.
- Place the dark chocolate drops into a heat proof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and stir continuously until chocolate has melted, and cream and chocolate have combined. Texture should be smooth and glossy.
- Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, start on combining your frosting.
- In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and pale (about 4 minutes).
- In a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.
- Add the cocoa powder and sugar mix to the butter in three parts, combining after each addition.
- Add the cooled ganache to the butter mixture, along with vanilla, and salt, and whip until smooth.
- Add the food coloring in small amounts, mixing well, until desired colour is achieved.
*Optional – Salted Caramel Centre:
1 cup cream
1 cup granulated (caster) sugar
6T salted butter
Pinch of course sea salt
- In a pot over a medium heat, place the sugar and stir continuously. It will begin to form chunky crystals, and melt. Keep stirring until it has melted completely and turned a copper colour.
- Remove from heat, and add butter in tablespoons, stirring in back over the heat after each addition (watch out for splattering).
- Once butter is incorporated, add the cream slowly (again watch for splattering), and then stir continuously over heat for one minute.
- Remove from heat, and transfer into a small jug immediately.
- Stir in salt, and allow to cool to room temperature, and thicken.
Assembly of Cake:
- Begin by placing your first cake layer onto a cake board, or cake stand.
- If you have made the salted caramel: Add a layer of salted caramel and spread evenly.
- Add a thick layer of chocolate ganache frosting over the salted caramel.
- Place the second cake layer on top, and repeat same.
- Place the final cake layer on top, and then frost the top and outside of the cake with chocolate ganache.
- Cool the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the frosting a little, then repeat frosting the outside and the top with another layer of chocolate ganache frosting to achieve a smooth finish.
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with sprinkles.
- Using a large, round tip nozzle, pipe remaining frosting around the top, outside layer of the cake.
- To sprinkle the bottom and sides of the cake, place the cake carefully into a large baking tray. Gently press the sprinkles into the bottom of the cake (the tray will catch excess sprinkles). To get to other areas, I simply take small amounts in my hand, and throw them at the sides of the cake (a little messy but worth it for the effect).
Assembly of Cupcakes:
- Using a knife, poke an X shape into the centre of each cupcake.
- If you have made the salted caramel: Fill a piping bag (nozzle optional) with salted caramel. Place the nose of the bag into the centre of each cupcake, squeezing salted caramel into the centre of each.
- Using a piping bag with round nozzle attachment, pipe the chocolate ganache frosting onto cupcakes, then using the back of a teaspoon, smooth out the top with a small, swirl motion.
- Sprinkle as desired.
- Coloring frosting black is not as easy as I expected. I thought one teaspoon of gel paste would add an intense black darkness, but alas it did not, and I ended up using three teaspoons and still not achieving what I had hoped for. I didn’t want to add anymore as it would alter the taste. The cocoa powder available to me in store is dark, but it’s not black, so unless you have access to black cocoa powder, and you get the dark brown cocoa powder like I do, then you need to either opt for using black fondant icing as an alternative, or accept you may not achieve true black, but rather an “almost black” colour using my method.
- Be warned, when any dark coloring is used in cakes, you’re likely to have a scary looking mouth after eating the cake. It only lasts for a short while and a good swish of water will do the trick. This simply adds to the fun and joy of cake eating anyway.
- I use a palette knife to frost my cake, which allows me to achieve a smoother finish, so it’s a good idea to get one if you enjoy making layer cakes.
- I gathered a few different sprinkles, and then combined them to achieve this sprinkle mix, as there isn’t a mix that exists like this in stores nearby to where I live.
Until next time…