Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse and Gianduja Buttercream + It's My Birthday!

So, in case it's not glaringly obvious from the photos and the title, IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

I'm the big ol' 22 this year! That makes me a real live adult, right? I still feel like an immature little 16 year old that bugs everyone, though. I still talk to my cat. I eat toast for dinner more times than I'd like to admit. I still don't have my drivers licence. I don't really know what a mortgage is.

I'd love to tell you that I've got some sweet plans for tonight - it is a Friday after all. Instead, it's 6:30 am and I'm getting ready for a 10 to 12 hour work day. After that, I'm going straight home and right to bed because I'm doing the 5 am shift tomorrow morning and have to wake up at 3:30 am. Wooooh, crazy party fun times! Ha.

All joking aside, I don't mind working on my birthday. First off, I love my job. Secondly, I'm not much of a partier, never was. And thirdly, my excitement for Christmas is totally overshadowing my birthday. I've already made and shot a bunch of Christmas recipes and I just can't wait to decorate my apartment and hear Christmas music and see twinkling lights everywhere. I'll probably start putting up my lights and decorations on my next day off.

Also, I find that I'm coming to the point where my birthday isn't as big of a deal as it used to be. When I was a kid and I used to see an adult just shrug off their birthday, it was unbelievable. No party, no presents, no acknowledgement?! What??

But now, I'm kind of like that. I'd like some people to acknowledge that it is my birthday, but I don't really need any birthday presents and I certainly don't need a party. It's just another day. 
Man, it is really sad to write that out. I guess maybe that's when you know you're an adult? Or maybe I'm just boring.

Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from Elements of Dessert

20 g cocoa powder
220 g all-purpose flour
4 g baking soda
2 g salt
150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
266 g icing sugar
66 g eggs
163 g buttermilk

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Recipe from Elements of Dessert

60 g eggs
25 g sugar
80 g good quality dark chocolate (70-73%), finely chopped
131 g heavy cream

Gianduja Buttercream

57 g egg whites
86 g sugar
170g unsalted butter, soft, cut into 1/4 inch dice
150 g gianduja

For the chocolate cake, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper, then spray the borders of the sheet pan. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs in 2 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl and the paddle between each addition. 

Add half of the sifted dry ingredients and mix for a few seconds, until combined. Add half of the buttermilk and mix for a few seconds. Repeat with the other half of the dry ingredients and the remaining half of the buttermilk.

Pour the batter onto the prepared sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. 

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, lift the cake and parchment off of the sheet pan and flip it upside down. Carefully peel off the parchment. Line the sheet pan with a new sheet of parchment and gently place the cake on that. Freeze until hard, about 20 minutes.

Using a 7 inch cutter (or bowl/mug/etc. and using a small paring knife), cut out 4 rounds from the frozen cake. Discard the scraps of cake or use for other desserts. Reserve the cake rounds in the freezer.

For the chocolate mousse, place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a hot water bath while whisking constantly until it reaches 60 C/ 140 F.

Remove the mixture from the heat and place it in the stand mixer. Whip on high speed until it cools to about 35 C/ 95 F and creates ribbons, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over the hot water bath. Let it cool to 35 C/ 95 F.

Once both the egg mixture and the chocolate are at the correct temperatures, whisk the egg into the chocolate until evenly combined. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining half. 

Place one round of cake on your turntable. Gently spread about 100 g of mousse onto the first round, gently spreading the mousse almost to the edges with a small offset spatula. Repeat the process with the remaining rounds, but do not put mousse on top of the fourth cake round.

Place in the fridge until set, about 2 hours.

For the buttercream, melt the gianduja over a double boiler until melted. Set aside.

Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a double boiler. Whisking constantly, warm the egg whites until the mixture is no longer gritty. Immediately transfer to the stand mixer and whip on medium-high for 4 minutes, until glossy and no longer warm. 

Slowly add the butter, piece by piece, until the buttercream forms. The buttercream may look like it has split initially, but if you continue to whip, it should form a smooth, fluffy buttercream. 

With the mixer on lower speed, slowly pour in the melted gianduja, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. 

Take the cake out of the fridge. Apply a crumb coat of buttercream to the cake, then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Apply the rest of the buttercream to the cake and smooth the corners, sides, and top. 

For the look that I created, I refrigerated the cake for another 20 minutes after this. Once the buttercream had hardened, I applied a very small amount of buttercream to my small offset spatula and smeared it on the cake. I repeated this until I had a "rustic" design that I liked.