Mazel tov! Today, you have crossed the invisible line separating childhood from the rest of your life, straight into ranks of adulthood. It’s unthinkable that your journey began thirteen years ago, back in the early days of blogging and before Blogging, capital B, became a legitimate occupation. Granted, you still have a long way to go before you reach that lofty pinnacle of professional success, but pure and simple survival is a triumph to be celebrated in this competitive, ever-changing field. You have beaten the odds to officially become a teenager.
I still struggle to define you at times, to explain your occasionally baffling tantrums and errors, but what child doesn’t have their rebellious moments? Even when we fight, no matter how ugly the language gets, it’s never enough to pull us apart. Thirteen years in, I couldn’t imagine my life without you.
Little did I know what I was getting myself into when I hit that fateful “publish” button on day one. The lessons came in fast, tough to swallow, painful at times, but always for the best. Let’s review in brief…
- If you don’t love what you do, it won’t work out. Like any relationship, it can’t be about money, fame, or any other traditional marker of success. At the end of the day it’s always about passion and inspiration.
- These things can’t be forced. You, little BitterSweet, only began to grow and thrive when given the freedom to do so. True followers can’t be bought and genuine comments seeking further conversation, not just self-promotion, can’t be be forced.
- Perfection is the enemy of progress. It would be impossible to move forward if we focused on all the little shortcomings of every post, every photo shoot, every social sharing; the endless tally of flaws would be downright laughable.
- Community is everything. It takes a village to raise a blog, or support one long enough for it to survive infancy. There’s not a chance that BitterSweet would still exist without the kindness and encouragement of a thousand voices chiming in from all corners of the earth. It still boggles to mind to consider how this tiny corner of the internet has brought together such an incredibly vast, diverse array of friends, whom I would have had no chance of finding otherwise.
- Most importantly, if there’s anything I’ve learned after all this time, there’s only one real way to mark the occasion: Cake.
A grand cake, pitch-perfect with bittersweet layers of chocolate ganache sandwiched between tender yet bold espresso cake layers and dressed in a robe of the finest white chocolate frosting you ever did see.
Strong espresso, the kind that makes your eyes open wide and sends you flying high on a rush of energy, has become a recent obsession. Though I typically limit myself to one shot per day, for fear of never sleeping again should I exceed that modest dose, this treat really packs a serious punch of caffeine in each slice. Rest assured, however, that the belated bedtime will be worth every last bite. Tempered by the light, luscious buttercream, flecked with vanilla beans and redolent of cocoa butter, chocolate ganache could tread dangerously into the realm of excess, but it’s just the right amount of sweet indulgence here. The trio sings like a well-practiced choir, supporting without smothering one another… Much like a succession of outstanding blog posts, I suppose.
So today, BitterSweet, you turn thirteen years old. Happy birthday, my dear. You’ve come a long way, but we have so much further still to go.
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Arrowroot
- 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Cups (About 12 - 14 Shots) Brewed Espresso, Cooled
- 1/4 Cup Kahlua or Coffee Liqueur
- 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
BitterSweet Chocolate Ganache
- 2/3 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk
- 2 Cups (12 Ounces) Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two 8-inch round baking pans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Separately, combine the oil, cooled espresso, kahlua or liqueur, vinegar, and vanilla, blending well before adding the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry.
- Stir with a wide spatula to bring the two mixtures together. It's perfectly fine to leave a few lumps remaining in the batter, rather than running the risk of over-mixing.
- Divide the batter equally between your two prepared pans, smoothing the tops as needed.
- Bake for 20 - 24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Cool completely before assembling.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ganache by heating the coconut milk and chocolate together either on a double-boiler or in the microwave. Stir frequently until perfectly smooth. If using the microwave, heat in 30-second intervals at full power. Chill, stirring periodically, until thickened but spreadable; about 3 hours in the fridge or 1 hour in the freezer.
- For the frosting, heat the white chocolate over a double-boiler or in the microwave but be vigilant! White chocolate is very easy to burn, so stir constantly, until smooth. If using the microwave, heat in 20-second intervals at full power. Cool to room temperature.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in your stand mixer using the whisk attachment. Once smooth, add in the cooled but still liquid white chocolate along with the vanilla. Beat on high speed, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula, until smooth and fluffy.
- To assemble the cake, slice both layers into two equal halves, creating four thin layers. Place your first round of cake on your desired serving plate and top with a third of the ganache. Carefully spread it to cover the top evenly. Top with another round of cake and repeat, until you end with the final round of plain cake.
- Smoother with frosting and decorate as desired. Be aware that if the cake is cold, the frosting will begin to set immediately. You can slightly melt and coerce it to a smoother finish by heating a metal offset spatula, but bear in mind that this will darken it to a more yellow finish, rather than bright white.
Cake layers can be baked in advance and stored separately in the freezer until ready to assemble. Thaw completely and bring to room temperature before beginning the process. Ganache and frosting must be made just prior to using.