Liam Turns Ten: Baller Birthday Sheet Cake and Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

My friend Dorothy's son Liam requested a cake with chocolate and peanut butter for his birthday. I decided to make Tish Boyle's "Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Mousse Cake" from Flavorful, but since it wouldn't be enough to feed everyone at the birthday party, I needed to make a second cake. And I could think of nothing more festive than Christina Tosi's "Baller Birthday Sheet Cake" from All About Cake.

The sheet cake has four components: birthday sheet cake, vanilla milk soak, birthday frosting, and birthday crumbs. When I made Tosi's "B'day Truffles" for our holiday party last year, they included all of the components except the frosting (but I never blogged about the truffles because our guests ate every last one and I forgot to set a few aside to get a photo).

The method for making the cake is the same that she uses in all of her sheet cakes, so I won't go into detail about it here. But it includes softened butter, shortening, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, oil, clear (i.e., imitation) vanilla extract, cake flour, rainbow sprinkles, baking powder, and salt. The recipe makes two 9-inch by 13-inch cakes. My cakes had very dark brown top crusts and perfectly level tops.

The birthday crumbs are a mixture of sugar, cake flour, brown sugar, rainbow sprinkles, baking powder, salt, oil, and clear vanilla that you bake in the oven. The frosting is a mixture of softened butter, shortening, cream cheese, corn syrup, clear vanilla, powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid.

To assemble the cake, you brush the cake layers with a healthy dose of vanilla milk soak (milk mixed with clear vanilla), and fill and frost the layers with the frosting and crumbs. You freeze the cake for at least twelve hours, and take it out of the freezer at least three hours before you want to serve it. The recipe says to trim off the edges of the cake right after taking it out of the freezer, but I found that the cake was too difficult to cut through while frozen solid, and bits of cake were breaking off. So I left the cake at room temperature for about 30 minutes before trimming off the edges and then I put the cake back in the fridge until we were ready to leave for the party.
This cake screams "Celebration!," more than any other cake I've ever made. I think it even has an edge over the Baked Ultimate Birthday Cake. Although both cakes include a crazy amount of sprinkles, the boulders of birthday cake crumbs and exposed sides revealing the sprinkles inside the cake layers put the sheet cake over the top. This cake is meant to taste like box cake mix and in that respect, it definitely delivers. Like Tosi's Confetti Cookies, the flavor of imitation vanilla comes through loud and clear. It's not my favorite, although there is a lot to like about this cake. The cake was moist, the frosting was soft and creamy at room temperature, and the birthday crumbs added some delightful crunch. In fact, the crumbs made it seem like you were eating cake and cookies at the same time. The cake was a huge hit at the party and Tom told me that he preferred it between the two desserts.

I, on the other hand, preferred the chocolate-glazed peanut butter mousse cake. It's two layers of chocolate genoise (cake flour, Dutch cocoa, salt, eggs sugar, hot clarified butter, and vanilla), filled and covered with white chocolate-peanut butter mousse (white chocolate, creamy peanut butter, heavy cream, milk, butter, salt, and vanilla), coated in a chocolate glaze (bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla), and topped with sugared peanuts (salted roasted peanuts, corn syrup, and brown sugar).
You bake the genoise in a 9-inch springform pan, and split it into two layers after baking. I could not believe how tall the cake was. The sides of the cake rose all the way to the top of the 3-inch high pan, and the center formed a high dome that was considerably taller than the sides. Even after I leveled the cake and split it into two layers, each layer had substantial height.

My cake didn't shrink in diameter at all during baking. You're supposed to assemble the cake in the same (cleaned) springform pan you use to bake the cake, but I used a 9-inch cake ring instead. I followed the directions in the recipe to trim the edges of the cake all the way around (before splitting the cake into two layers), to ensure that there would be room between the cake and the ring for the peanut butter mousse. I put a layer of cake in the ring, spread mousse on top and over the sides, added the second cake layer, and the spread on the remainder of the mousse. I froze the mousse-covered cake until firm. When I removed it from the ring, I discovered that there was significant gaps of mousse along the sides of the cake; the space between the cake and the ring was so narrow that I wasn't able to get mousse all the way around. If I make this cake again (which I hope I do!), I would skip trimming the cake and just assemble everything in a 10-inch cake ring.

I loved everything about the chocolate-peanut butter cake. The cake was chocolate-y but light; the mousse was simultaneously weightless and yet incredibly rich, and the candy-like sugared peanuts were delightful. Both cakes were fantastic.  

Recipes: "Baller Birthday Sheet Cake" from All About Cake by Christina Tosi; Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Mousse Cake" from Flavorful by Tish Boyle.

Previous Liam Birthday Baked Goods: Liam Turns Nine (Chocolate Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Filling and Vanilla-Peanut Butter Frosting); Eight (Golden Anniversary Chocolate Chip Brownie Cake); Seven (Chocolate Butter Cake with Strawberry Mousseline); Six (Baked Ultimate Birthday Cake and Baked Strawberry Supreme Cake); Five (Mango Tart with Coconut Crust and Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes); Four (Baked Whiteout Cake and Hazelnut Cake with Praline and Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting); Three (Yellow Birthday Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting); and One (Lemon Buttercream Torte).


Sally said…
YUM! I made that confetti cake from the original book as the 3 layer, and liked but didn't love it - I really preferred the Baked birthday cake. This is my all time favorite chocolate PB cake and it feeds a TON of people -
I don't love the imitation vanilla flavor either, but I can't deny the mass appeal of the sheet cake, especially the crunchy crumbs! And thanks for the tip about the chocolate-peanut butter cake -- it looks delish!