My friend Deb asked me to make a horse-themed cake for her birthday.

I’ve seen a lot of horse themed cakes that are very cutesy looking, but I wanted to do something more grown-up. That is her horse on top. I enlarged a photo of hers and used it to make a stencil, then painted it with cocoa powder. I’ve been wanting to try cocoa painting or a while, and I think it worked well for this.

The cake itself is strictly adults-only; espresso chiffon cake brushed with Kahlua syrup and frosted with Kahlua flavored buttercream. The buttercream itself turned out kind of lumpy, but after asking around I think I’ve figured out how to avoid that.  The recipe also made much more cake than Deb needed, so I made a mini-cake for us at home. The espresso in the cake didn’t come through nearly as much as I expected, but it was still quite tasty. (Though Ian didn’t finish the piece he snuck away with – as I said, adults only.)

This is the first cake in a while that actually turned out reasonably close to what I planned,so I’m pretty happy with it.