I may or may not have had a birthday recently.
I definitely did have a birthday cake.
While I almost always make my own birthday cake rather than pay someone else to do it or *gasp* skip it completely (I shudder at such a terrible thought!), I like to mix it up--I've been known to go big, keep it simple, and everything in between. As is often the case, we celebrated both my birthday and Easter with this cake, but that's okay--I'm happy to share.
You've probably eaten this cake before, if I may be so bold as to even refer to it as a cake. It's essentially layers of graham crackers and vanilla pudding fluffed with Cool Whip and topped with a chocolate ganache. Yes, it's reminiscent of a chocolate eclair, but in my opinion, SO much better. As I make it, the pudding component is the majority of the bulk, where an eclair is mostly pastry. To each her own, but I prefer the pudding. Lots of people who make this use a thicker chocolate frosting, but my mamster always used this thinner boiled ganache, and it's what I still like.*
*Especially if it's made correctly. Apparently, I didn't start timing at the ROLLING boil for this batch of frosting and therefore ended up with an undercooked ganache that became sticky and tacky and troublesome. Still delicious, but a pain in the derrière.
|DEE-stroyed. DEE-molished. But what DEE-licious carnage.|
This is another in a long list of desserts that just gets better with age (much like yours truly, you might say). I always appreciate desserts like that--they help me improve my patience and strengthen my willpower. As birthday cakes go (or any cakes, for that matter), you could do much worse than the combination of creamy vanilla pudding, softened graham crackers, and rich chocolate ganache!
Chocolate Eclair Birthday Cake for Easter
Fills a 13x9-inch pan
- 1 (1-pound) box graham crackers
- 2 (3-1/4-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding
- 3-1/2 cups milk
- 1 (16-ounce*) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine pudding mixes and milk; briskly whisk or beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Gently fold in the whipped topping.
Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish, then spread a layer of graham crackers onto the bottom.
Spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers, then top with another layer of graham crackers.
Spread the remaining pudding over those crackers; top the second pudding layer with another layer of crackers.
Refrigerate until chilled--this will help the ganache firm up properly.
To make the ganache, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa.
When the mixture comes to a ROLLING boil, begin timing for one minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla extract.
Let the mixture cool for a few minutes before pouring it onto the chilled eclair cake, spreading evenly over the exposed crackers.
Refrigerate at least a few hours, but the longer, the better.
*Most recipes call for 8 ounces of whipped topping. That's probably the better way to go--the pan won't be so close to overflowing and the structure will be a little firmer. Whatever, I love me some Cool Whip.