The Super Bowl isn’t a holiday, but it is one of the biggest events – sporting or otherwise – of the year. Last year, in 2008, over 97 million people tuned in to watch the Big Game. I suspect that most of those people were sitting around with family and friends, either at a small gathering or a big party. I know that I was. I love Super Bowl parties for the chance to socialize and munch on some tasty snacks. I always try to do something with a little bit of a football theme to it, just because it helps me and everyone else at the party get into the spirit (even if they’re not football fans to begin with).
This year, I’m making football-shaped mini cakes. Cupcakes didn’t give me quite the “look” I wanted, so I opted to bake a chocolate sheet cake and carve it by hand. It’s actually very quick and easy to make the football shapes. All you need to do is slice up the cooled sheet cake into bars, then trim off the corners to give them that signature shape. If you’re lucky enough to have a football-shaped cookie cutter, you can certainly use that instead. Feel free to munch on the scraps while you work.
The chocolate cake is very moist and has a great chocolate flavor. It’s tender, but holds together well enough to carve without getting crumbs all over the place. I coated my footballs with a thin chocolate glaze. You can try to dip the tops of the cake into the glaze if you like, but I’d recommend simply pouring a bit over each individual cake. The glaze is thin enough that it won’t give you a smooth finish on the sides of the football (although the top of the cake will be smooth), but I think it needed to be thin so that its flavor didn’t totally overwhelm the small cakes. I used a bit of confectioners’ sugar mixed with water to create an icing that would finish off the cakes with ball-like lacing.
Chocolate Football Cakes
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup coffee, warm
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together all purpose flour and cocoa powder. Stir in sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, coffee and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool completely before slicing or frosting.
To shape the footballs: Cut cake into 16 even, rectangular slices (4×4). Working with one slice at a time, use a knife to trim the short edges of the rectangle into points (cutting off the corners) and making a football-like shape. Repeat with all remaining piece. Discard or eat scraps. Place cakes on a piece of wax paper or a wire rack to glaze.
Chocolate Glaze and Decoration
2-oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tbsp milk
1 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tsp water
Combine semisweet chocolate, milk and confectioners sugar in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
Pour over shaped cakes to glaze. Allow glaze to set at room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.
Once chocolate glaze is set, whisk together additional confectioners’ sugar and water in a small bowl. Mixture should be thick, but not dry or stiff. Pour into a ziploc bag and cut off one corner. Pipe “lacing” onto the top of each football. Allow to set before storing.
Store in an airtight container if not serving on the day they are made.
Makes 16 football cakes.