NieNie’s Mud Cake Magnifique

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Ever noticed how some foods speak to you?

Good gravy boat, I do.
When I offered to create a recipe for the delightsome NieNie,
I sent along a few fancy ideas.
She {ever so cordially} replied
that she was eschewing my proffered dessert ideas
in exchange for the simple creation of one
{She has been, after all, craving it intensely.}

Thus, I went into my kitchen,
stood there quietly awaiting revelation.

Or, at very least,
the suggestive whispers of pantried friends.

Sugars, and flours, and flavors
that know how to mix
and move together
and make song.

Bittersweet chocolate spoke first,
Insisting it deserved to tell Nie’s story
above all other cocoa’s.
Then mascarpone.
‘Cheese’, it hummed.
‘Think how Nie loves her squeaky cheese.’
From above the pantry,
a single sheet of paper begged,
“Let me make a silouhette.
Top off the treat for Nie.”
Then, there.
Without warning.
The Nie Cake came together.
Her stories,
her joys and sorrows
her life and love
her inspiration and example
layered together.
Each part a small piece
of a larger, most magnificent pastry.
A tiny taste of all she means to so many of us.
Our Darling Nie.
NieNie’s Mud Cake Magnifique
with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse & Ganache Bittercream
How does one go about making the PERFECT chocolate cake? I’d never done it before, and therefore went about it quite deliberately. I consulted cookbooks and cooking websites. Call friends. Window-shopped the pastry sections of my favorite bakeries. The perfect chocolate cake, I decided, (and one inspired by someone so delectably adorable) had to be simple. No frufru decor or garnish. It should be easy enough to whip up for grilled-pizza Friday’s, but elegant enough to entertain at a garden party lit by candles hanging from trees tucked in baby food jars. It didn’t come out right the first time, a bungled mess of brownie-like bits. It didn’t work the second time. However, as it is with many worthy endeavors, a lot of tinkering and winkering was ultimately worth the price of patience. Nie’s Mud Cake is everything Nie is: divinely beautiful inside and out.
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate (8 squares)
¾ c. olive oil
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. powdered sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ c. cocoa powder
1 c. flour
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking powder*
½ tsp. baking soda
In a microwave, melt squares of chocolate with olive oil. Once melted, beat until smooth then add sugars and egg. Beat again until well creamed. Add remaining ingredients. Beat just until all ingredients are incorporated. (If you are baking BELOW 5000 feet altitude, double baking powder and add an additional 1/2 cup of flour). Pour batter into two 9-inch cake pans that have been generously greased & dusted with cocoa powder. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 26-28 minutes, or just until center of cake springs back to the touch. Remove from oven. Allow to cool before inverting on a cooling rack and removing from pan. Before layering cake, use a knife to gently cut away any uneven parts at the top or sides of the cake. You’ll want a nice, even surface to begin with in order to have your finished product look amazing.
Mascarpone Mousse
1 c. whipping cream
¼ c. sugar
1 c. 60% Bittersweet cacao chips
8 oz. mascarpone

In a large bowl, whip whipping cream until fluffly. Add sugar & mascarpone and whip until smooth. In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every thirty seconds until smooth. Chocolate should not be warm to the touch, if it is, allow it to cool just slightly before spooning the melted chocolate into the whipping cream mixture & beating until light and fluffy. Spoon carefully atop one layer of cake. Spread evenly, then top with the second layer of cake. Refrigerate until ready to frost.

Bittercream Frosting
1 pint heavy cream
11.5 oz. 60% Bittersweet cacao chips
½ c. butter
4-5 c. powdered sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate chips and heavy cream until a thick, smooth ganache forms, to keep the mixture from burning, stir constantly. Put in fridge until chilled. Remove from fridgidaire and beat in butter & powdered sugar until frosting is a spreadable consistency. Frost. Chill cake. To serve, remove from fridge 10-15 minutes before serving.
Love for Nie.