Saturday, January 1, 2011

Multi-Layered Desserts for New Year's Eve: Unnamed Excellence and Mini Smith Island Cakes

Ah, yes, here we are. National Hangover Day. Or, for those of you who are like me and don’t drink, let’s call it “National Day after We Made Multiple Chocolate Desserts with More than Fifteen Layers.”

Kinda long. So let’s stick with National Hangover Day but talk about chocolate desserts that happened yesterday anyway. My Aunt Cindy was in town for a few days to visit her son and daughter-in-law, who recently moved to Rockville.

They’re all originally from California. Well, except Aunt Cindy, who is from Milwaukee. Like me. And we all spent New Year’s Eve together in Maryland. Logical. But not nearly as logical as starting a stack of chocolate crepes with layers of alternating hazelnut buttercream and chocolate custard.

And then making that stack really tall.

And then covering it all with chocolate glaze.

And sprinkling the top with toasted hazelnuts and chocolate covered cocoa nibs.

I honestly don’t know what this was called. Does it matter? I’ll just call it “delicious stack of chocolate and hazelnut that I can’t make on my own because I need Aunt Cindy on crepe duty.”

Again, kinda long. Let’s keep it nameless.

I do, however, have a name for the other multi-layered chocolate dessert that I made yesterday.

Mini Smith Island Cakes.

So cute you could just eat them. Actually eat them.

I made six of these little guys in honor of my cousin’s relocation to Maryland. Why? Well, because Smith Island Cake, which is named for a tiny island in the Chesapeake Bay that is home to not quite 300 people, is the official state cake of Maryland. Also because it was the cake listed for Maryland in United Cakes of America, the book by Warren Brown that my grandmother got me for Christmas. I adjusted that recipe just a bit to make them mini, because that seemed like it would be more fun.

Mini Smith Island Cakes (as adapted from Warren Brown's United Cakes of America)

1 cup flour

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

¾ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

10 tablespoons butter

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

Mix the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl, set aside. Mix the milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl, set aside. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed of a mixer for about five minutes, then beat in eggs one at a time. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk mixture in four additions and three additions respectively.

After your batter is done, trace 3” diameter circles onto some parchment paper.

Fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe thin layers of batter in the shape of the circles.

Bake at 350° F for 12 minutes.

Fudge frosting ingredients

5 cups powdered sugar

2 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger)

5 tablespoons butter

1 cup evaporated milk

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (Scharffen Berger)

Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder, set aside. Heat butter and milk to a simmer in a saucepan, then mix with sugar and cocoa powder and return to saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, then stir in the chocolate.

Now spread some on one of the little cakes.

Repeat until you use eight cake layers.

Then cover the whole thing in more frosting.

I think it’s about 60-70% frosting. And I’m OK with that. Great way to start a year and welcome somebody to Maryland, if I don’t say so myself.

Does your state have an official cake? What is it?


  1. Yum! Did I just read FUDGE frosting? If so, I must make it NOW!

  2. These are both awesome!! They're also desserts that I've wanted to try to make. I've never had either even though I lived in Maryland for four years..tragic! I also love that you made the Smith Island ones mini. Sure does beat dirtying all those pans.

    I guess the Texas sheet cake is my state's cake. Don't think I've had that either... O_o

  3. @fitchocoholic You should! At least make the frosting and eat it on graham crackers. Just make sure it doesn't get too dry while you are heating it.

  4. @Jessica @ bake me away! Ha, Texas sheet cake. It's the cake listed in Warren Brown's book.

    The other advantage of these being mini is that we sliced them up and put them out as cute little appetizers.

  5. Um, yes yes yes please. Though I think I'd be tempted to, instead of slicing through that multilayered creation, lift off the top layer so I could get all the cocoa nibs and hazelnuts :P

  6. @Hannah Well, if you were there, we could have just given you some of the hazelnut butter with nibs mixed in as we made the thing over the course of THREE HOURS.

    And then you could eat a slice as well.

  7. Christian said the Mille Feuille tasted even better the next day (after we had left of course). I don't think there were any SI cakes left by then. BTW he's a Milwaukee native as well and life- long Packer-Bucks-Badgers fan.

  8. @Cindy Bergmann I did enjoy it even more the next day - and the day after. That once slice took me 3+ days to eat! Thank you so much for teaching me how to make it.

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