As I mentioned in my last post, someone around here had a birthday last week. (Okay, it was me.) The great thing about having your birthday right around Labor Day–or frequently on Labor Day–is that you can generally count on a three-day weekend that feels pretty much especially for your birthday. For me, any of the other three-day weekends (Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) are tinged with just a little bit of guilt for not being more patriotic and/or social justice-oriented. As in, we don’t put out the American flag on those days (we don’t have one–I know, I know, that’s no excuse) and frankly, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. All the things I’m brainstorming right now just come out sounding patronizing and offensive, so I won’t even mention them…yikes.
As three-day weekends go, then, Labor Day feels like an irreproachable freebie. It was instituted in the 1880s and ’90s (various states adopted it at various times) as a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Hey, I’m a worker! …Or at least I was before I had kids, and now I work harder than ever, though I technically don’t “have” a “job” (picture this statement with Chris Farley van-down-by-the-river air finger quotes). So, see? Like I said! This holiday’s for meeeee! And you, and you, and you. Pretty much anybody who’s ever had a job.
All that to say it’s an ideal time to have a birthday. Thank you, Mom, for going into labor in that Wendy’s drive-thru in Peoria, Illinois on Labor Day weekend 1982. You were on to something: labor on Labor Day. And I must say, this birthday was a really great day. In the morning, my husband made my favorite cinnamon pancakes (eventual blog post to come about this wonderful recipe), I went to a yoga class, got to do some shopping, and made my own birthday cake. Some people say you shouldn’t have to cook on your birthday, and I’m sure that’s true for people who don’t really like to cook, but I certainly enjoyed making this cake. It’s basically two layers of blondie brownies slathered in butterscotch and chocolate ganaches. It’s like if Brownie and Cake got married and made a sweet, sweet baby. “Brownie” in the sense of “dense blondie texture,” and “cake” in the sense that it’s “stacked” with “frosting” (again, Chris Farley air finger quotes–sorry, I’ll stop). So don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come out of the oven super moist and airy like a traditional cake. It might just be better.
For the butterscotch brownie cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (11 oz.) package butterscotch chips, divided
For the butterscotch ganache:
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
6 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
For the chocolate ganache:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. water
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the sides of two 8-inch round cake pans. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the eggs until well incorporated. Gradually beat in the flour mixture on low speed just until combined. Stir in 1 cup of butterscotch chips with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Sprinkle with the remaining butterscotch chips. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the pans.
To make the butterscotch ganache, combine the cream and the butter in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat until the mixture is almost boiling. Place the butterscotch chips in a small, heatproof bowl. Pour the cream mixture over the butterscotch chips and allow to sit for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. If too runny, place in refrigerator until it thickens enough to not run too quickly off the cake.
To make the chocolate ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream, sugar and water to a boil, then pour the liquid over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Gently whisk the mixture together until smooth. Leave the glaze to sit until it thickens a bit to your desired consistency.
To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a wire rack with a sheet of wax paper. Drizzle butterscotch ganache over the top so that it drips over the edges of the cake. Drizzle with a small amount of chocolate ganache as well. Lay the remaining cake layer on top of the first and top with remaining chocolate ganache so that it drips over the edges. If desired, place remaining butterscotch ganache in a squeeze bottle and use it to decorate the top of the cake–or simply use extra butterscotch chips to decorate. Transfer the cake to a serving platter.