My daughter wants to be an astronaut…for now. For the sole purpose of being able to board a rocket and go to the mysterious presence in the night sky. I remember wanting to as well. Then I learned you have to pass a swim test. And psych testing. And you need a PhD in math/science/engineering (the bachelors did me in).
And the job market doesn’t seem to be too promising for astronauts, since they’re outsourcing it to the machines [insert techno slur]. But she doesn’t know all this just yet. So for now, [CLICHÉ ALERT] she will just have her rocket cake and eat it, too. Planet earth(ish) sugar cookies, pop rocks, and little green men all helped make the space party special!For the inside, I used the classic chocolate cake recipe from Ina Garten (Beatty’s Chocolate Cake), baked in an 11×15 pan for 27 min. Except I did the usual substitution for buttermilk (1 tbsp white vinegar + 1 tbsp less than 1 cup of milk). And since the kids were going to be hopped up on sugar, I used decaf coffee. I’ve been doing A LOT of reading up on cakes. And there’s no wonder why this recipe has over 1700 rave reviews and counting. There’s:
- vegetable oil, which is a liquid at room temp, which makes it moist
- coffee, which compliments the cocoa flavor and also adds moisture
- acidity from the buttermilk: which tenderizes the flour
And yet with all these liquids, the cake holds up well enough to decorate. I used the guide from Spoonful on how to create a rocket cake. Just remember when you are attaching the “thrusters”, you have to flip cut parts down, and then over, so that the curve faces away from the cake. I added a little extra “flair” with the leftover scraps (I could have eaten all of them myself, but my pants would hate me for it).
I also made two other cakes: banana cake with dark chocolate ganache for my daughter for the day of her birthday and perfect yellow cake with chocolate buttercream for a friend from college on her 30th (can you tell I’m a big smitten kitchen fan?)!
For the frosting, I used a concoction of my own:
- 12 oz white chocolate (Ghirardelli)
- 3 sticks (12 oz) butter, room temp
- 4 tbsp milk (or as needed)
- Break the chocolate up and add to a bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted. Do not overheat! Remaining bits of chocolate will melt with the residual heat of the melted chocolate. Just keep stirring! Mine took 90 seconds. Set aside and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Whip butter at medium speed for 1 minute. Add cooled chocolate and continue whipping for 2 minutes. Lower the speed and add milk until it reaches spreadable consistency. Tint TINY dabs of food gels to decorate.