Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Rum Frosting

classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting

  For many, carrot cake is a must-have on the dessert table after enjoying a fattening dinner on Easter Sunday. In my own family, it was actually quite rare. My Grandmother always made a banana pudding trifle or a layered coconut cake for Easter. I only recall eating carrot cake as a spring dessert served at church events or family get-togethers; but though it was scarcely served in my home, it has always been a family favorite when we had the pleasure of eating it.

  This recipe wasn’t specifically meant for Easter, though. I’ve been meaning to post a cake for the past week but they just haven’t worked out, so I decided on this classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting and well, it happens Easter is this weekend. The recipe for this cake was given to my mother by my Grandmother which she acquired from a friend (my, what a mouthful!) twenty-something years ago. It has always been a family favorite. Of course, I did adapt it slightly. Typically, walnuts or pecans are used, but instead, I used almonds.

 It’s a delicious, dense, and very moist cake. It uses a total four cups of carrots! The frosting has a very light and fluffy mouthfeel, with a slight rum flavor and vanilla bean speckled all about.

 

CLASSIC CARROT CAKE WITH VANILLA BEAN RUM FROSTING


 cake:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups raw cane sugar

4 large eggs, room temp.

seeds from (1) vanilla bean pod

1 1/4 cup organic canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk, room temp.

4 cups grated carrots

3/4 cups coarsely chopped almonds

   frosting:

seeds from (2) vanilla bean pods

1/4 cup dark rum

8 ounces cream cheese, room temp.

8 ounces butter, room temp.

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of sea salt

 method:

Before starting anything, split open two vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and place the seeds and the pods in a small jar with a lid. Add the 1/4 cup of dark rum and close the jar. Let the ingredients sit for an hour or more. When ready to use, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and discard the pieces. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three, 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices- set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy; once they reach this stage, begin streaming in the oil. Add the buttermilk and then the flour in three batches, beating each addition until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the grated carrots and chopped almonds until combined. Divide the batter amongst the three prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. They’re done when the cake springs back up after being touched lightly, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the cake from around the edges of the pans. Invert onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

 for the frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula and add the powdered sugar and vanilla-infused rum. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy about3 minutes.

 assemble the cake:

 Place the first cake layer on a cake board/plate/stand and spoon about 3/4 cups of frosting on and spread around with an offset spatula. Repeat this with the second and then the third. Use any remaining frosting to frost around the edges. Or, you can use all the frosting on the first, second, and top layers and leave the sides naked. Decorate with fresh or edible flowers.

Chocolate Vanilla Sage Mousse Cake with Pistachio and Sea Salt

  Much of February was one of those months for me.  After three weeks of absence, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I thought of this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt.

  It’s a chapter every creative person faces more often than not: the depletion of their creative energy.  It’s like sitting in a vacuum, where nothing new comes in or comes out, it’s just empty space.  The worst part is feeling as though it will never go back to normal, thankfully it always does-  in its own time.  It is both a blessing and curse, the blessing being time to collect your thoughts, your sense of self, and to better understand your surroundings.  The curse is the depressing thoughts that come with losing one of your outlets of expression.  It’s like suddenly forgetting how to swim while you’re in the deepest part of the ocean.

  The weather as of late has been but an early breath of spring, which is what helped bring a few ideas back to me.  Many trees, shrubs, and flowers began to bloom three weeks in advance due to the warm winter season.  I saw Bradford pear trees with their snow-like petals blowing in the wind, as well as cherry blossoms with their lush pink and red hues.  I envisioned something chocolate being surrounded by all these blossoms, and that’s when this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt came to fruition.  It’s nothing too creative, to be honest.  I have a chocolate mousse cake recipe rather similar to this one(also one of my most popular blog posts and recipe on this site).

  By reading the title, you may be wondering, ‘why sage’?  The truth is, my motto is to always add at least one fresh ingredient for the main flavoring agent in my baked goods, it is either a fruit, herb, or a vegetable.  But it must be in season and at least somewhat local, to add to my motto.  The sage was plucked from my sage plant in the front garden, which thrived all throughout this mild winter of ours.  To my surprise, it complemented the chocolate rather well.  It’s all very rich in every possible way, with hints of vanilla bean and sage all throughout the mousse.  The brownie I would liken to fudge; it’s chewy and has a strong chocolate flavor.


CHOCOLATE VANILLA SAGE MOUSSE CAKE WITH PISTACHIO AND SEA SALT

brownie

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

seeds from (2) vanilla beans

1 cup coconut palm sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

mousse

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 fresh sage leaves, chopped

seeds from (2) vanilla beans

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 large egg yolks

3/4 cups heavy cream

3 large egg whites

3 tablespoons sugar

roasted pistachio, for garnish

sea salt, for garnish

METHOD:

 brownie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Prepare one, 8-inch cake pan by greasing the side and bottom then lining with parchment paper.
  2. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with about two inches of water, then placing a heatproof bowl over the pot, making sure that it doesn’t touch the water.  Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add to the bowl the butter, vanilla bean seeds, coconut sugar, and cocoa powder.  Stir occasionally with a spatula until the butter has melted completely and the sugar has somewhat dissolved as well.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit until slightly cooled- it should remain very warm, but not burning hot.  You should be able to dip your finger in for five seconds without it burning you.  Once it reaches this stage, add one egg and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined; repeat with the second egg.  Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined and there are no flour streaks to be seen.  Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and spread around evenly.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a sharp knife and invert onto a wire rack(keeping the parchment on the bottom)to cool completely.   Tip: to speed up the cooling process place the brownie in the freezer until cool.

  mousse:

  1. Place a medium sized bowl in the refrigerator to chill, along with the whisk attachment to an electric hand mixer.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the butter, chopped sage leaves, and vanilla bean seeds.  Cook on medium-low until the butter is melted and the sage becomes fragrant- about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then remove the sage pieces.  Place the butter in the refrigerator until firm again.
  3.  Create a double boiler and add the butter and chopped chocolate.  Stir occasionally until the ingredients are melted completely.  Then remove from heat.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a medium bowl on high with an electric mixer.  When they begin to gain volume, sprinkle in the three tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
  5. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat with the chilled whisk(s) until soft peaks form.
  6. After all this, the chocolate mixture should be warm (not hot) by now.  Add the egg yolks and stir until combined.  
  7. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate in two batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding another.  Once the whipped cream is combined with the chocolate, begin to fold the egg whites in three batches, making sure each batch is fully combined before adding the next.  There should be no streaks or clumps of white when finished.  
  8. Place the cooled brownie(with parchment paper still attached)in a well greased 8-inch cake pan.  Then, very gently pour the mousse over the top and spread around evenly.  Cover tightly with tin foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, this will take up to six hours or you can leave it in overnight.  I did the latter.
  9. When the mousse is firm, heat a sharp knife in hot water until the blade is hot, then use it to loosen the mousse from around the edges of the pan.  Firmly place the tin foil back on the pan with your hand placed in the center and gently flip until the cake falls out.   Place on a flat surface and remove the parchment from the bottom of the brownie.  Flip the cake back onto a cake and gently remove the foil.  The mousse should not be messed up if this is done carefully.  
  10. Melt some chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cake, then top with chopped, roasted pistachio and sea salt.  Cut with a hot knife and enjoy.

Lemon Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  With the vast amount of flowers on display for Valentine’s Day, there was only one reasonable excuse for me to buy a lovely bouquet: cake.  It is nothing extravagant, just a simple lemon layer cake.  Four, delectable and moist layers might I add, with the right amount of lemon to them.  I about gave up on the recipe, to be honest.  Twice it failed on the density and moist scale, with a mouthfeel like cornbread.  The lemon flavor was just right, though.  The third time was the charm, and with the addition of applesauce, the outcome was just as I wanted: a moist, tender crumb with layers that rose nicely.

  Over time I have tried many buttercream methods, from meringue buttercreams to your standard American buttercream.  One of my favorites will always be German Buttercream, it’s absolutely amazing.  So, I have gotten in the habit of basing most my buttercreams on a flavored custard.  It’s easy to infuse with different flavors and is never too sweet.  For this lemon cake, I infused coconut flakes into the milk, which then goes into eggs and sugar to create a smooth custard.  Due to the presence of egg yolk, I wasn’t able to keep it white in color, instead, it’s a pale yellow.

lemon layer cake from afar

lemon layer cake from afar

These warm February days have had me aching for spring to arrive.  It was one of the reasons that spurred me to create this very spring-like cake.  I’ve already noticed changes everywhere, however small they may be.  The days are getting slightly longer and the tulips have begun peeking out from beneath the loose soil; the birds have become even more melodious in song as the days grow increasingly warm and longer.  Those may be just a few changes, but they’re enough to fuel me through the remaining days of winter.  I love spring as it inspires me to continually change and grow, whereas in winter something seems to die within me, along with the fallen leaves.  It’s hard to find inspiration, so I always feel stuck, like nothing can grow.  But, come spring or just things that remind me of spring, I find that those parts of me were just dormant, like buds on the trees and shrubs; just by a few days exposure of warmth, they are reminded their time to bloom is near.  

 On the subject of seasonal change, there will be much change to this blog come summer: a complete renovation, including a new name.  It has been in the back of my mind for some time now.  When I started this blog, I really needed a name to get things moving, so I pulled one from thin air, and as it turns out, one I’m very unhappy with.  To me, ‘The Sticky Spatula’ is a bit hollow.  I would like a title with meaning, one that’s flexible with the content I want to produce.  I would like to share more of my photography that isn’t strictly baked goods, and I feel my current title keeps me in a box, so to speak.  None of this is in the works yet, but it will be in the next month or so, hopefully.  I’m excited about these changes, but at the same time frightened as I’ll be switching to a different platform.  I can only hope the move will be smooth and without losing any of my current content.

close up flowers on lemon layer cake

top of lemon layer cake

sliced lemon layer cake view

slice of lemon layer cake

slice of lemon layer cake


LEMON LAYER CAKE WITH COCONUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

cake

260 grams cake flour ( 2  1/3 cup ) 

30 grams unbleached all-purpose flour  ( 1/4 c )

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

300 grams sugar ( 1  1/2 c )

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.

2 large, whole eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temp.

2 teaspoons pure lemon extract

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

130 mL almond milk, room temp. ( 2/3 c ) 

coconut buttercream

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 cups whole milk

3 teaspoons cake flour

3 teaspoons cornstarch

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

METHOD:

for the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line with parchment paper two, 6-inch (or two eight-inch) pans.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes.   Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and add the lemon extract and egg yolk, beating on low until just combined.  Add the two whole eggs and beat until combined, about 20 seconds.  Add one-third of the flour, half the milk, the applesauce, and lemon zest; beat on medium speed until just combined, then scrape down the bowl.  Add the remaining milk and another third of the flour and beat until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining third of the flour, beating until no flour is seen(about 10 seconds).
  4.  Pour the batter equally amongst the two prepared pans, making sure they’re no more than half full.  Spread around evenly.  Bake for 30-37 minutes, checking for doneness at 30 minutes.  They’re done when the cake springs back up when lightly touched with your finger.  Remove from oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes.  Then, using a sharp knife, loosen the cake from around the edges of the pan and invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

for the buttercream

  1. Line a tall baking sheet with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, add the milk, coconut flakes, and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, remove from heat and let it sit until cool to the touch.  Once cooled, pour into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the milk through a very fine-meshed sieve or a straining bag over a clean, saucepan.   Discard the coconut pieces(or re-use by toasting in the oven).  Measure out 1/4 cup of the milk and set aside, then bring the saucepan back to a boil; removing from heat once it begins to boil.  
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cornstarch, egg yolk, and the 1/4 cup of cooled milk.  While whisking the egg mixture, pour in half of the hot milk.  Strain the egg mixture back into the remaining milk and continue to whisk over medium heat until thickened and smooth.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread around evenly.  Cover with another layer of plastic so it doesn’t form a skin.  Place in the freezer until cool to touch(it should not have a hint of warmth to it, nor should it be cold).
  4.  With an electric hand mixer with whisks attached, beat the butter along with a pinch of salt, until smooth.  Add the cooled custard and powdered sugar and beat until pale in color and fluffy.  It may look curdled in the first stages, but continue to beat until it comes together.  

assemble the cake

  If the cakes have a dome, be sure to level it off before commencing the second step.  Once each cake has been leveled off, carefully halve each cake into two smaller layers.  You should have four, equal layers in total.  Place the first layer bottom side down on a cake board/stand/plate.  Spread about 1/2 cup of the buttercream around evenly using an offset spatula.  Place the second layer evenly on top of the first, and add the same amount of frosting.  Continue to frost and stack each layer until all the layers are intact.  Use the remaining frosting to frost the top of the cake and around the edges.  Decorate with fresh flowers and coconut flakes, even dried lemon slices.

Chocolate Banana Date Cake {Gluten and Dairy Free}

  “I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

  I haven’t put much thought into blogging or recipe writing during these last three weeks.  To be honest, my mind just hasn’t been thinking about what I’m going to bake next, or what to post.  But instead, what is right and what is wrong; truth, and not lies.  It’s mentally exhausting keeping an informed mind about the happenings of the world; there’s so much discourse going on all at once it can really drive you into despondency.  A little break can do one good.

  January was, undoubtedly, a troublesome month for so many.  The anger, disgust, and fear- they’re all legitimate responses to our current political situation in the United States.  I myself have been battling pessimistic thoughts regarding our country’s new leadership.  It’s quite difficult maintaining an optimistic outlook, but I am trying my best.  It’s really important that we do, even more so that we continue loving each other through it all and not turn our hearts to hate.  That we keep on doing what we can to make our world a better place for all to live in.  

  On a lighter note, I was able to contrive at least one recipe while on hiatus: this chocolate banana date cake.  Delectable and light is every bite; much like powdered sugar that melts in your mouth upon arrival on the tongue.  It is in every aspect, the perfect combination of chocolate and banana, with a hint of cinnamon.  On every slice, a sticky, sweet date to account for the lack of extreme sweetness.  It works well as a midnight snack, or breakfast when you’re feeling like cake.  It goes rather well with a hot cup of coffee, too.  I shall close in saying that it’s completely gluten-free and dairy-free, as well as being utterly delicious if I haven’t stated that enough.  


CHOCOLATE BANANA DATE CAKE

cake

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 large eggs, room temp.

2 bananas

4 dates, pitted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup almond milk

4 more dates, pitted and halved

method:

  1. Preheat oven 350°F / 177°C.  Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. In a blender/food processor, blend together the four pitted dates and two bananas until smooth.  set aside.  Slice four more dates into halves and remove the pits.  Set aside for later use.
  3.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.   
  4. In an electric mixer with whisks attached, beat the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low until each one is fully incorporated.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl once more.  Add the banana mixture, half of the flour, and half of the almond milk; beat on medium speed until combined, then add the remaining flour and almond milk until the flour is just combined and no white streaks can be seen.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and evenly spread around.  Place the halved dates on top of the batter, insides facing up.  Do not press them into the batter, they should only be resting on top of the cake.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking for doneness at 35 minutes by using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it is done, if it comes out wet, bake in three minutes segments until it does come out clean and the cake springs back up after being lightly touched.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.  When cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Ganache

  December, despite being born in this month, there’s not much I really look forward to in it except for my birthday, Christmas, and the closing of another year and the beginning of another year alive.  It can be a depressing month, mainly due to the scenery and the weather.  It gets quite windy where I am located and the house is surrounded by a forest of trees so everything becomes quite dull and lifeless looking blowing in the wind.  The grass turns brittle and the trees gray and spiritless without their coat of leaves.  Winter reminds me just how quickly the other seasons fade, as it always seems the longest.  It also makes me appreciate the other seasons a lot more.

  When it comes to my creativity, it usually relies on the mood of the day.  I’m somewhat one with the weather, all it takes is a cold, cloudy day to bring me into the depths of despair.  For photography, especially food, December light can be difficult to work with.  By the time I’m back from work and done test baking, the light is practically gone and I hadn’t even decided what backdrop to use.. and it’s only four o’clock in the afternoon.

  Anyway, I could honestly go on about the depressing things about December and just the season of winter in general, but let’s skip that because I’m sure you probably share the same if you’re not a winter person; if you happen to be a winter person, well, good for you!  I won’t understand why, but that’s okay.  I once was, but I honestly don’t know why I enjoyed it.  I think it was because I was a child, born and raised without knowing what cold actually felt like.  Up until I moved to Virginia, wearing a sundress and flip flops to my Grandmother’s Christmas dinner was normal.  Now, I actually have to wear pants.

  Now, let’s talk chocolate cake.  My birthday was just last week and I decided to bake my own cake for the occasion for the very first time.  I think it’s a tradition I should start doing every year.  My youngest sister insisted I wasn’t allowed to do such a thing, but by who’s authority, I persisted!  I did most everything the night before to save time, but really, I don’t think I saved much time at all.  I still found myself with this cake four hours later while the rest of the family anxiously awaited its arrival onto the kitchen counter top so they could eat it.

  A little while ago I began adding a fruit jam to my cakes.  It adds an exceptionally moist and tender crumb when you do so!  The frosting includes chocolate pudding, then once it is on the cake, more chocolate in the form of ganache.  As you probably know if you take a brisk scroll through my blog, I am chocolate obsessed.  I also happen to love cake, so I have quite a few chocolate cake variations on this site.  I’ve learned so much about baking cake in the year that has passed since I’ve started this blog journey- so much so, that I look back to a few of the cakes I’ve made and think to myself, “why the heck did I make it that way?”.  You live and you learn, as C.S. Lewis so truthfully wrote, 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE


cake:

100 grams dark cocoa powder ( 1 1/4 cups )

1 cup boiling water

175g unsalted butter, room temp.

500g granulated sugar 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp.

250g cake flour ( 2 cups + 2 tablespoons )

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

300g milk, room temp.

pomegranate jam

pomegranate jam

1 pomegranate

1/2 cup sugar

1/4  teaspoon lemon juice

Chocolate frosting and Ganache:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa powdered 

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

salt

 

method:

for the jam:

  1. Scrape the seeds out from the pomegranate and place them in a small saucepan along with the 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring the mixer often, until the sugar dissolves; reduce to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the fruit is soft and has broken down some.  Remove from heat and press the jam through a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath.  Discard the seeds from the sieve and bring the jam to room temperature.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, add the cocoa powder; pour the boiling water over the cocoa and let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth; set aside and bring to room temperature. 

 Once all the ingredients have reached room temperature, begin on the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare three, 8-inch round cake pans in the usual way:  grease, parchment paper, then a light coat of grease over the paper. 
  2. Using an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy- about 7-8 minutes on medium-high speed.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.  Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition as well as scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters with a spatula.
  3. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, pomegranate jam, a third of the flour, and a third of the milk to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the milk, beat until combined.  Pour batter equally amongst the three prepared pans and evenly spread around.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cakes quickly spring back up when lightly touched.
  4. Cool the cakes 10 minutes in their pans then gently use a knife to loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan and invert onto cooling racks to cool completely for about 1-2 hours. 

for the frosting and ganache:

  1. Place a medium-sized heatproof bowl in the freezer so it will be chilled for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder to a simmer over medium-low heat then turn off the heat.
  3. Heat a double boiler over medium heat and add the egg yolks and sugar.  Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is pale yellow.  Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly stream in the milk.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened.  Once, thickened, remove from heat and immediately pour the pudding into the chilled bowl and whisk briskly till the pudding is cool to the touch.  
  4. Now, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cooled pudding(be sure it doesn’t have the slightest warmth to it or else the butter will melt) on medium speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of extra cocoa powder and a pinch of salt; beat on medium-high speed till the mixture is fluffy and becomes slightly pale in color(about 4 minutes or so).  
  5. For the ganache:  finely chop the bittersweet chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in the microwave or on the stovetop.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for five minutes undisturbed then stir until smooth.  Let the mixture cool so it can reach a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the cake:

  Place the first layer on a cake board/cake stand/plate and spoon about 3/4 cup of frosting onto the top.  Evenly spread around then place the second layer, top-side down onto the first layer.  Spread another 3/4 cup of frosting and place the third and final layer on top, again, top-side of the layer facing down onto the previous layer.  Add the remaining frosting to the top and sides of the cake.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes so the frosting can firm up some.  Once the frosting is somewhat firm to the touch, add the ganache and spread around the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with edible flowers and greenery(optional).