The days of cute character cakes are over. My niece is no longer a little girl. She is (gulp) 13 now, and her tastes have clearly matured.
For this birthday, she wanted cheesecake and chocolate cake together. I suggested Boca Negra instead of a chocolate cake, because the texture is similar to cheesecake. Suggestion accepted.
I made a 10" cheesecake and 9" and 8" batches of Boca Negra. I also made some extra cheesecake to use for the piping. (I just made a plain cheesecake - she didn't want anything fancy.)
(I also baked 4 4" springform pans of cheesecake and 4 of the Boca Negra to use as a birthday cake (or tower) for Bill's uncle, but I didn't take any pictures of that one, so I'm not officially including it here. But it was yummy. And I made a raspberry coulis to go along with it. No coulis necessary for Natalie and her friends.)
Anyway, I kept the layers of this cake in their pans in the fridge until the morning of her party. I packed some bath towels onto the lower parts of the back seat (where it angles, so you can sit comforably) and cranked the air conditioning for a few minutes so the car would be like a refrigerator truck. Then I packed up the other bowl of spare cheesecake and my piping bags and tips and couplers, and some parchment paper...a couple of large spatulas...dental floss (for slicing) and my camera, and headed to my sister's house. Oh, yeah, and I brought an apron. I can't seem to cook or bake seriously any more if I'm not wearing one.
I brought the cake unassembled like this because I was worried that the layers might slip in the car on the half hour ride to my sister's house. Most of the time, my cakes are encased in fondant, which holds everything in place.
Assembly went very well - the chilled cheesecake and Boca Negra are pretty firm (especially the Boca Negra - all that butter hardens up nicely in the cold) so it was just a question of unmolding them quickly onto the supporting layer, and I managed that without mishap. (I find that reciting "No guts, no glory" right before I flip a cake layer over helps me psych myself up for the task.)
When the layers were assembled, I scooped the extra cheesecake into a piping bag and piped the words onto the top layer first. Cheesecake is kind of funny to pipe with - the texture is soft and the piped letters look a little fuzzy as a result. There were also a couple of thicker bits (from around the edges of the baking dish) that clogged the piping tip a bit. The squiggly "N" in "Natalie" was the result of one such clogging episode.
I used a star tip, a leaf tip, and a flower tip to do all the little decorative things around the edges.
The party was yesterday. I spoke to my sister this morning and she said the kids all liked the cake.