My son’s birthday turned out to be focused on myrmecology, the study of ants. The a-number-one gift on T’s wish-list was an elaborate ant-habitat and formicarium from Ants Canada. So, despite my reluctance to welcome insects into the house, welcome them we did. In the end, I’m glad we went with the fancy professional kit, because it not only looks good, it comes with elaborate instructional materials, including lots of tips for preventing your beloved ants from escaping their sealed enclousure.
To go with the present, I wanted to make some sort of anthill or antfarm cake for the big day. As enamoured as I was with the Canadian Living Fire Ant Anthill Cake my friend Ames directed me to, I wanted to try something a bit more sophisticated for my youngest-oldest boy. So, I tried my hand at several brazilian Bolo Formigueiro [Anthill Cake] recipes until I came up with my own, best take on the classic.
The Bolo Formigueiro is a hoop-shaped white cake full of chocolate sprinkles or dice. Hence, the anthill look when you slice into it. The cake doesn’t even really need a topping. But, who are we kidding? Instead of a buttercream or a glaze, I opted for a chocolate and sweetened condensed milk topping. This is the easy, “Magic Ganache” your granny probably made for you when she realized she didn’t have much butter or icing sugar in the house.
Next time, when I make the cake for my girlfriends instead of a family party, I’m going to add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the cake.
In any case, here’s an anthill for the older set. Enjoy!
Anthill Cake with Magic Ganache [Bolo Formigueiro]
- 3 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles or finely chopped chocolate [the latter tastes better], separated into 1 cup for the cake and 1/2 cup for the decoration
- 2 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate
- 2 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbs water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles or chopped chocolate [see above] for decoration
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Coat a two-piece tube cake pan [or a 9x13 pan] with baking spray or grease and flour well.
- Separate the eggs, reserving the yolks for later in the process.
- Whip the egg whites with the pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed.
- Set aside the whipped egg whites.
- In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder.
- Set aside the mixture.
- In a clean bowl or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.
- Add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar and mix until fully incoporated.
- Add the vanilla to the mixture and stir until combined.
- In alternating batches, add the flour mixture and milk, stirring until incorporated.
- Add the sprinkles or chopped chocolate and mix until just combined.
- With a spatula, by hand, incorporate the whipped egg whites.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes [or cool completely if using a rectangular pan.]
- Shimmy a butter knife around the outside circumference of the tube pan, and remove the cake from the outside tube pan.
- Shimmy a butter knife below the bottom of the cake and around the inside circumference of the pan.
- Invert the cake [bottom's up!] onto a serving dish.
- Allow to cool completely before icing and decorating. Cake may be wrapped and stored for up to 24 hours on the counter before icing and serving.
- Boil water in a pan and place a heat-proof glass bowl on top of it.
- Melt the unsweetened chocolate and the butter, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cocoa powder until incorporated.
- Add the condensed milk and stir well over the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and add the 1 tablespoon of water, stirring until fully incoporated.
- Allow the ganache to cool completely.
- Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
- Using an icing spreader or good knife, spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake. This ganache is meant to pool, slightly, over the bottom edges of the cake.
- Sprinkle with additional chocolate sprinkles.