21) Chocolate Espresso Tassel Hat Cake 2.21 Lorelai's Graduation Day
“Aw, you made me a tassel hat cake!” “Filled with two pounds of crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans.” “You're evil.” “And you're graduating.”
For the cake:
3 cups of granulated sugar
1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cup freshly brewed coffee (I used Scotty P's Big Mug Coffee in the flavor Dutch Chocolate)
For the frosting:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar
For cake assembly:
3 red vines or other red licorice
8 oz lukewarm water
1 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans
10x10 inch foam board
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan and a 6 inch cake pan. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Measure a 10x10 inch square on the cookie sheet. Create a foil wall by folding a 6 inch sheet of foil and placing it on the 10 inch mark (see photo below) to create a square. If you have a 10x10 baking tray, that will work as well.
In a large mixing bowl, combine most of the wet ingredients (sugar, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract) until fully combined.
Slowly sift in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix until fully combined.
Carefully pour in the brewed Scotty P coffee and mix until fully combined.
Pour most of the cake batter into the bundt cake pan, filling it about ¾ of the way full.
Pour more of the batter into the 6 inch cake pan, again filling it about ¾ of the way full.
Spread the rest of the cake batter into a thin layer on the cookie sheet. Keep this as thin as possible without leaving any gaps on the cookie sheet.
Place all the cake pans into the oven and bake at 350 degrees. After about 20 minutes, remove the cookie sheet and 6 inch cake pan. An inserted toothpick should come out clean when fully cooked.
Bake the bundt cake for an additional 10-15 minutes for a total of 30-35 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out clean when fully cooked.
Allow to cool completely.
For the frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and beat for about 5 minutes or until soft and fluffy.
Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk then add the milk to the butter. Add in the vanilla extract. Mix until fully combined.
Add the sugar in a cup at a time, mixing in between each time. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula so that everything is fully combined.
To assemble the cake:
Using kitchen scissors, cut the ends of the licorice strands into thirds about 1 1/2 inches up the licorice strand to create fringe. Press the licorice together to form one strand, leaving the fringed ends separate.
Pour the 8 oz of lukewarm water into a cup. Dip the strand of licorice into the water for about 10 seconds. Be sure to leave the fringed ends dry. After about 10 seconds, remove the licorice from the water and further press together to ensure the licorice melts together.
Pat the licorice dry with a towel then keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.
Once the cakes are completely cool, place the bundt cake on whatever surface you are planning to serve your cake on. Pour the espresso beans into the center hole.
Spread a thin layer of frosting across the top of the bundt cake then place the 6 inch cake pan on top of the bundt cake.
Coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting as a crumb coat. Place the cake in the fridge for a few minutes to let the frosting set. Then remove from the fridge.
Spread a thicker layer of frosting over the cake, completely covering it with frosting.
If there are any overcooked or uneven edges on the thin square cake, trim them off with a sharp knife.
Place the foam board on top of the frosted cake then place the thin square cake on top of the board.
Frost the cake and the sides of the board to hide it.
Take your licorice tassel out of the fridge and place on the center of the mortarboard and allow the tassel to dangle off the edge of the cake.
When you are ready to serve the cake, remove the foam board and slice into the cake, revealing the espresso beans inside!
Alright y’all, this was a tough one to figure out! When I was on the Friday Night Dinner Podcast, they asked me about any major failures I had in the kitchen. Up until that point, my only major failure was my struggle with the royal icing for my cookies for Hammers and Veils. So maybe I was jinxed going into this, but I went through about five different cakes before I got this one right. Between my pretzel basket and this tassel hat cake, I’m doing way more engineering than I thought I would be doing when I set out to do this project!
I was hesitant to even try to make this cake, and I was considering just making the New York hot dogs “with everything on them” that Jess and Rory eat. Kelsee from @Kelseesmagicalhollow on Instagram contacted me about doing a collaboration with baking using Scott Patterson’s coffee, Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee, and since this is a chocolate espresso cake, I knew I could easily incorporate the coffee, and so I would try to figure out how to make Sookie’s tassel hat cake. Since this is also a chocolate cake, I ordered the dutch chocolate flavor of coffee, and it was so delicious. It felt I was enjoying a cup of coffee at Luke’s!
I tested out a few different chocolate cake recipes and playing around with adding coffee, but I wasn’t getting the right rise out of them. I also originally tried constructing the bottom part of the cake with a metal bowl and strips of parchment paper, but that ended up in a total disaster. Eventually, I decided to switch over to a bundt cake once I was pretty sure I had figured out my recipe, but it wasn’t exactly the right shape I was looking for. I have a 6 inch cake tray, so I added some of the batter to that to create more of the hat shape. As for the tassel, I considered making it out of fondant, but I didn’t need a lot of fondant for just a tassel. Lorelai loves her red vines, so I thought they would actually be pretty perfect as a tassel!
In the episode, Sookie mentions that she filled the cake with two pounds of crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans. First of all, I don’t know why you would crush up the espresso beans if you’re filling the cake with them. Unless they’re supposed to be sandwiched between the layers of cake, but I found using whole ones to add in the center works just fine. I made homemade chocolate-covered beans for the last episode of season one. But I decided to use store-bought for this cake because I was already having to figure out how I was going to construct it to look like a tassel hat. However, if you want to make your own, definitely check out my recipe for them!
This episode gives me a lot of mixed feelings. It frustrates me that Rory practically begs her mom to go through with the graduation ceremony and goes behind her back to invite her grandparents to attend, only to completely miss it. I get that it was an accident; she wasn’t expecting the bus delays. But she could have gone to New York any other day! I know that it was an impulse decision, but it still completely sucks that Rory misses the graduation and leaves the Bangles record signed by Belinda on the bus.
On the other hand, I absolutely love the relationship building between Lorelai and her parents in this episode. Even though Emily hires a videographer for the ceremony and it seems a little over-the-top, I actually find it really endearing because this is how she celebrates special occasions, and her daughter’s graduation is a special occasion. The scene when Lorelai walks across the stage and looks out at Richard and Emily always makes me tear up.
Do you have any great graduation memories?
*Cake recipe modified from Simply Whisked.
If you missed what I made last episode, catch up here!