Passion and creativity mix it up in the kitchen of Akanksha Behari.
The Basking Ridge resident always enjoyed baking cakes for friends and family, channeling her creativity through beautiful themes and designs. This passion led her to found her custom-art bakery, CakeOholic.
During the pandemic shut down, she began teaching free online baking classes for kids and raised $2,000 in donations for frontline workers. Her classes reached students across the nation from the Northeast to the South and Midwest, as well as overseas in London and India. This sparked an idea, and she decided to start baking full-time.
Behari strives to design unforgettable cakes that are larger-than-life and exceed expectations. “The goal is to create true happiness—honest, genuine smiles,” she says.
She shares her love of baking through summer camps, one-on-one instruction and birthday parties that teach children how to make restaurant-quality creations. She wants her students to also gain practical skills that can be used outside of class: The chemistry and physics of baking and the origins of the recipes.
CakeOholic is an active member of the community. It sponsors PTO fundraisers, teaches baking to children with autism and makes regular donations to a special needs elementary school in Livingston. “This is more than a business: It is a passion,” Behari says, “I am genuinely passionate about the cause—and the kids.”
View Behari’s cake designs at facebook.com/aksbehari or on Instagram at nstagram.com/cakeoholic_i_want_my_cake.
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 3/4 c granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1/2 c vegetable oil, canola oil or melted coconut oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk
1 c freshly brewed strong hot coffee (regular or decaf)
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3–4 c powder sugar
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
3–5 tbsp heavy cream, half-and-half or milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a whisk) mix the oil, eggs and vanilla together on medium-high speed until combined. Add the buttermilk and mix until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add coffee and whisk or beat on low speed until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thin. Bake at 360° F for 30–40 minutes. Top with chocolate buttercream.
Chocolate Lava Cake
1/2 c unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tbs flour
Preheat oven to 450° F. Butter and flour your ramekins.
Melt the butter with the chocolate on low heat in a double boiler or in the microwave. (If you use a microwave, heat the chocolate in 30-second intervals so it does not burn.) Whisk until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt until thickened and pale. An electric mixer works best.
Fold the chocolate mixture and flour into the egg mixture.
Pour the batter into the ramekins and bake for 7 to 11 minutes. Ovens vary, so check to see if the top layer is set and not too jiggly.
Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for one minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate.
Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold.
Sift powdered sugar on top and garnish with berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.