Carnival Chocolate Cake

chocolate cake

If you are a parent and you have a toddler, you may have come across with the book I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles. And the chances are you may have been amazed how interactive this book could be with your kid. Even though this book is primarily pictures that require to be solve by finding the items needed, there is a lot of brain power being used. A very clever way to visually engage your kids. However, the depth of the pictures can be quite deceiving. It’s striking how they hide things in plain sight but make it impossible to find. My son and I would come back to the book day after day to find that damn ball of yarn.

chocolate cakechocolate cake

The reason why I mentioned this interesting book is because this cake was inspired by it. I made this cake for my son’s school spring carnival, and carnival is probably one of the most frequently used themes in the book.

I spy a moose walking on a carnival land of ganache and sprinkles. Do you?!

Ingredients (one 5-inch 3-layer cake):
Chocolate Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Chocolate Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Chocolate Ganache
50 grams dark chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons colourful sprinkles

To prepare cake, preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 5-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Crack in the egg, spoon in the sour cream, and pour in the oil and the vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Pour in the boiling water, and slowly mix until smooth and liquidy.
Divide batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cakes cool completely.
Run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper circles.
To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla, heavy cream and cocoa powder, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with 1/4 cup of the buttercream. Place another cake layer on top, and gently press down a little bit. Spread with another 1/4 cup of the buttercream. Place the last layer of cake on top, smear the remaining buttercream on the top and sides of the cake. Cover and refrigerate.
To prepare ganache, place the chocolate and heavy cream in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a wooden spoon until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Remove cake from the refrigerator. Pour ganache over the top of the cakes. Use an offset spatula to gently push the ganache over the sides of the cake to create the dripping effect.
Scatter sprinkles on top of the ganache and gently press some on the sides of the cake.


  1. just lovely cake. I think this will be my husband’s retirement cake in June. perfect. And I spy a caribou!

    1. Thanks, AngAK! Hope your husband will enjoy the cake! By the way, I spy a very happy husband gobbling a lovely chocolate cake. :P

  2. Oh! Tell me about those I Spy books!!!!!! :) I think they are more about torturing parents than anything! Just kidding! By the way, cute cake there!

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