As real snowdrops are currently popping up in our yard, I am reminded of this chocolate cake I made last Easter. I used this Martha Stewart tutorial for crafting the crêpe paper snowdrops and for the cake and frosting, I used a well-loved family recipe. Read below for recipe and assembly tips.
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
2/3 cup hot water
2/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare two round pans. Butter each pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk Dutch process cocoa with the hot water.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and vanilla until fluffy on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time.
Turning speed to low, alternately add in dry, sifted ingredients and the buttermilk in increments. Once incorporated, add the cocoa mixture and mix until just combined.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. On a low speed, add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, followed by a tablespoon of milk until powdered sugar is fully combined.
Mix in cocoa. Add milk as needed to reach your desired consistency.
Assembling the Cake
Trim the tops of the two, cooled cake rounds so that they are flat on top. Reserve these cake crumbles which will become the “soil.”
Place one cake layer on your cake stand or platter. Tuck strips of wax paper all the way around the cake to keep your plate neat. Evenly spread approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup of frosting on top of this layer. Next add with the top cake layer and spread the remainder of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula to make it smooth.
Crumble the reserved cake on the top of the cake to make a layer that looks like soil.
Using a vegetable peeler and a semi-sweet baking chocolate bar, shave chocolate onto a piece of wax paper until you have enough to cover the sides of your cake. Tilting the cake plate slightly, gently sprinkle and press the shavings onto the side of the cake. I used a little piece of wax paper to act as a barrier between the chocolate and the warmth of my hand.
Make your bird’s nest out of frozen phyllo dough and butter. I used a silicone cupcake liner as my form, and layered strips of phyllo and brushed melted butter inside the liner. I made a depression with my thumb in the center when the layers were built up so that it could hold the candy eggs. I baked the nest at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until it was golden brown and allowed it to cool before removing from the liner. Then I added little chocolate candied eggs. Place the nest on top of the cake.
Add your snowdrop flowers haphazardly, then lightly dust the top of the cake with a little freshly fallen, powdered sugar snow. Remove the protective wax paper sheets from around the cake base, and garnish with some pretty spring flowers.