I knew that I needed to make a chocolate cake, but I wasn't sure which filling to use. I got Tish Boyle's "The Cake Book" for Christmas, and I decided that her Devishly Moist Chocolate Cake sounded really good. It called for using 9x3 inch pans which I don't have, but that meant I could bake some cupcakes along with the cake for taste tests. The recipe was incredibly simple to make. She gives weight measurements for the dry ingredients which made it even easier. And, the cake was probably the most moist chocolate cake I've made. Daniel said the recipe is a keeper. I finally decided on her Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache for the filling and then just used a standard vanilla buttercream for the outside with fondant on top. It definitely made for a very rich cake.
I decided to go with a classic birthday present design for the cake. I had learned how to make this black and white bow back in August when Marco Antonio Lopez and Sonia Escobar taught a class on modern cake design and thought that would be perfect for my mom's cake. It's not a difficult technique, but it took more time to make than I thought it would. You cut out pieces of white fondant for the ribbons and then use a clay extruder with black fondant in it to get the long thin strips of black. I used a brush with water to attach the black strips to the white. I think this cake was probably my cleanest fondant work. I covered the cake board well enough ahead of time so it could dry, and then I attached a black and white ribbon to the edge of the board to give a really clean look. I had planned to do a design on the white part of the cake but ran out of time. I still think it turned out really well, and I think my mom really liked it. She sure doesn't look like she's 50!