I was recently asked to prepare a chocolate cake for a client. They wanted a beautifully opulent and moist chocolate cake with layers of the richest chocolate ganache and a fruit and cream filling. After experimenting with a few different combinations, I came up with this chocolate cake recipe that is simply lovely. Interestingly, fresh pineapple works really well in the filling with the strawberries.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
For the cake
– 300g good quality dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
– 300g butter, cubed
– 210g self-raising flour
– 150g plain flour
– 3 tsp baking powder
– 300g light muscovado sugar
– 300g caster sugar
– 40g cocoa powder
– 6 large free-range eggs, separated
– ½ tbsp vanilla extract
– 100ml buttermilk
– 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
– 125ml tepid water
– 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
– 50ml Tia Maria, or liqueur of your choice
For the ganache
– 200g good quality dark chocolate, (70 percent cocoa solids)
– 200g butter, softened
– 250ml cream
– 2 tbsp caster sugar
– shot of Tia Maria liqueur
For the filling and to decorate
– grated chocolate
– chocolate flakes
– fresh strawberries, raspberries, pineapple or cherries
– apricot jam
– 250ml whipped cream, if desired
You will also need
– 1 x 24cm round cake tin, lined
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C fan/160°C/gas mark 3. To prepare the cake, put the chocolate pieces and cubed butter
into a small Pyrex bowl. Place over a medium, heavy-based saucepan ¾ filled with water. Over a low heat, warm the chocolate and butter until they have just melted, and then remove from the heat.
2. While the chocolate is cooling, mix the self-raising flour, plain flour, baking powder, light muscovado sugar, caster sugar and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl, using your fingers to get rid of any lumps.
3. Beat the egg yolks and vanilla extract in a bowl until creamy in texture, and then stir in the buttermilk. Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour, stirring just until everything is well combined and you have a smooth but quite runny consistency.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually fold this into the cake mixture.
5. Dissolve the instant coffee granules in 125ml tepid water, and then add the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). After 3 minutes, combine this with the cake mixture.
6. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes. After that time remove the cake from the oven and test to see if it is cooked by pushing a skewer into the centre. The skewer should come out clean and the top of the cake should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin. It may dip slightly and that’s fine. Then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When the cake is cold, cut it horizontally in two.
7. To make the ganache, chop the chocolate into small pieces and tip into a bowl with the butter. Place the bowl on top of a pot of gently simmering water.
Pour the cream into a pan, add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar, and heat to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Add the Tia Maria and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Then remove from the bain-marie and leave to cool.
8. To assemble the cake, sandwich the layers together with apricot jam, just a little bit of the ganache, whipped cream, and your preferred fruit. Pour the rest of the ganache over the cake, letting it drip decadently down the sides, and smooth the top with a palette knife. Decorate with grated chocolate or a pile of chocolate flakes, and fresh fruit if you like.
9. This cake will keep, and stay moist and gooey, for 3–4 days in an airtight container.
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