May the Fourth is a yearly geek event, which means I always have a whole year to plan for it. And yet on May the First I was still debating what to bake.
I was thumbing through my favorite cookbooks when I came across the Black Velvet Cake recipe in my Baked Occasions book and thought, “Ooooh. Black Velvet Vader Cake“.
And now here we are.
I’d made the Black Velvet Cake once before, turning it into conversation heart cakes just like it showed in the Baked Occasions book. Well, not *exactly*. Theirs were very pretty, whereas mine were a bit… unpolished looking. Frosting and decorating are not my strengths.
That’s why for Star Wars Day I decided to forego any fancy decorations and rely on sprinkles and candy melts to pull my cupcakes together.
I already had silver sprinkles, and I’ve been wanting to use little edible ball bearings ever since David Tennant remarked on them in the “Fear Her” episode of “Doctor Who”.
So the sprinkles and ball bearings on the black frosting looked nice and spacey, and then I used candy melts with my Star Wars molds to make litte minifig Stormtroopers, Darth Vader heads, and one big Millennium Falcon. (You can get the Lego minifig and other molds on Amazon or ThinkGeek.com.)
By far, the comment I heard most was, “Where did you get the Legos?” followed by, “What do you mean they’re edible?” and then, “You MADE those? OHMYGOD! How did you make them?!”
Yep, people are super impressed with molded candy.
And the comments around the cupcakes went something like:
“These are amazing! They’re so chocolatey!”
“Black cocoa? What’s black cocoa? It’s so delicious!”
“This is the best cupcake I’ve ever had. Can I take another one?”
“I love you, Lisa. You’re the best.”
So yeah, I’d highly recommend this recipe, and the Baked series of cookbooks in general. They do use some ingredients that you may not usually have on hand, but as you can see from the recipe, I made a few changes here and there, including changing the recipe from a sheet cake to cupcakes, and it still came out really well.
Their recipes are generally simple to follow, super rich, and perfect for your gooeyest, most chocolatey cravings. They always get me rave reviews.
Now I have another year to plan for May the Fourth, but I’m considering of going a different direction in 2017. What do you think?
- 2 tbsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp unsweetened black cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 tbsp black food gel (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self rising)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 oz. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp vegetable shortening
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 325F and position rack in the center of the oven. If making a cake, butter an 18x13 baking sheet, line with parchment, then butter the parchment. If making cupcakes, get your cupcake lines ready. This recipe will make 24-26 cupcakes. (I baked mine in two batches.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together both cocoa powders, the boiling water, and the food gel (if using). I didn't have dark cocoa powder, so I use one tablespoon of regular cocoa and three of the black cocoa and hoped it would balance out. It seemed to be fine. Once whisked smooth, set aside to cool.
- In another bowl, sift together the cake flour and salt.
- In a standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and smooth, about 5 minutes. (I don't have a paddle attachment, but my regular beaters did just fine.) Add the sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the cocoa mixture. (I rarely buy real buttermilk anymore because I always wind up with leftover that gets thrown out. Now I use a powdered buttermilk, so I added the powder at this step and then incorporated a cup of water slowly as I mixed everything together in the next step.)
- Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 10 seconds.
- In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and baking soda until the soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet or cupcake pans. Bake cake 20-30 minutes (check at 20 and continue if still wet). For cupcakes, check them at 12 minutes, but mine took about 15 before a toothpick came out dry.
- For cake, cool completely on a wire rack before turning out. For cupcakes, remove from pans and place on wire rack after five minutes so the bottoms don't get soggy.
- At this point in the Baked book it says to freeze the cake for 15 minutes or so and then use a cookie cutter to make heart shapes, then frost them with a cream cheese frosting. But you could also make a layer cake, or just slather the frosting on and dig in with a fork.
- For my cupcake frosting I used a basic Chocolate Buttercream recipe, but substituted black cocoa for half of the regular cocoa. That made it extra dark, so I added a little extra powdered sugar. I put in a drop of black food gel to make sure it was super black, but even without it the frosting was very dark.
- Decorate however you like, or just eat!