I Suggest a New Strategy

My mother is very crafty (she doesn’t think so, but she’s making my wedding dress, so I think I can say she is). She can tackle a lot in one day, but when something starts to go wrong, she knows it’s time to walk away from the project and come back to it later.

She has also warned me not to try too many new things all at once for a project. I finally heeded her advice this week. After taking a day to step back and reassess, finally, the failed cake from Tuesday is getting its moment.

Ruffles!

You may recall, I tried to make a frosting in my food processor, to no avail. Even after chopping up the chocolate chunks, they were still too much for the machine to handle (it’s alive still, thank goodness). I picked a new strategy for today. If you’ve never been to Smitten Kitchen, take the day off work or school, go read everything she’s ever posted, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

If you have been there before, you may have read the post where she included what will probably be my go-to chocolate frosting for a long time: Instant Fudge Frosting (aka: Chocolate Buttercream. Yeah.).

Fudge Frosting (borrowed from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Sky High)

6 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I had to throw in a few semi-sweet squares)
4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk (I used regular milk, it’s what was on hand)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to begin blending, then process until everything is smooth.

Assemble the cake

Prepare your cake plate with a few strips of waxed paper, which will keep the plate clean while you frost the cake, then place your bottom layer of cake on top of the waxed paper.

Normally you should level at least this bottom layer of cake, but I’ll be honest, I just didn’t feel like it. (Side note: I chose a plate that was too small, and had to gently slide the cake onto a bigger one after I had already frosted some of it).

Spread a layer of frosting on your bottom layer of cake, then position your top layer of cake over it. To control crumbs and make the rest of the frosting processes easier, spread a think layer of frosting over the whole cake, then place the cake in the fridge for a little while.

Start with the top of the cake, and spread a smooth layer of frosting over it (I realized too late that I wouldn’t have enough frosting to put ruffles on the top layer, so I had to do this step – very carefully – at the end). You can finish the cake with a smooth layer of frosting on the sides. Or, if you’re feeling fancy/ambitious, you can prepare an icing bag with a petal/ruffle frosting tip (it looks tear drop shaped).

Starting at a corner (or better yet, make a round cake in the first place), place the frosting tip at the base of the cake with the wider part near the cake, and the point facing away. To make the ruffles, as you squeeze the frosting bag you’ll slowly move the tip back and forth and work your way up the side of the cake.

Finished!

As you go around, the heat from your hand will make the butter-rich frosting go thin, so you may have to place everything in the fridge from time to time. You can take those moments to clean chocolate frosting off of everything in your kitchen. And don’t tell me you didn’t get chocolate on everything, I’ll know you’re lying.

This is the first time I’ve tried ruffles. Some of them are not too pretty, but the overall effect is pretty. If you’ve tried this technique, let me know if you have any advice!

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