Friday, January 06, 2012

Chocolate celebration cake

When I was a little kid my mother used to make the most amazing chocolate cake. It was a dark, moist cake, layered with whipped cream, which she sometimes flavoured with coffee.

She made that cake for me to take to my second grade christms party one year. Mum sure had a lot of confidence that a bunch of seven year old kids would love the flavour of chocolate and coffee together. But she was right - that cake was devoured right down to the last crumb.

I'm still of the opinion that a chocolate cake is the best kind of cake for any occassion. I made this one recently for a friend's mum's birthday. I added a few extra flourishes to turn it into a celebration cake.

Ingredients
2 cups water
3 cups caster sugar
250g butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1tsp bicarb soda
4 eggs
3 cup self raising flour

1. Combine the water, sugar, butter and cocoa powder in the largest saucepan you've got. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, watching carefully that the mix does not boil over. Continue to boil for five full minutes. The longer you boil this mix the darker your cake will be. In the last minute add the bicarb soda and mix to combine.
2. Pour the chocolate syrup mix into a glass bowl and allow to stand until it is completely cold.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Transfer the chocolate syrup into the bowl of your Kitchenaid. Add the eggs and flour and mix on first gear to combine. Increase speed to sixth gear and beat for three minutes. Mixture should be thick, pale and glossy.
5. Pour the mixture into a fully lined 10 inch round cake tin. Bake in the oven for 80 minutes, or until the cake is cooked.
6. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to completely cool.

Icing
1 kg pure icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
175g butter
120ml full cream milk
3 tsp warm water

1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of your Kitchenaid. Mix on first gear to combine, then increase speed to sixth gear. Beat until the buttercream become thick and fluffy.
2. Split the cake in two. Spread one third of the buttercream across the top of the middle layer. Position the top layer over the bottom and carefully align so the sides are even.
3. Use a butter knife to spread buttercream around the sides of the cake. Then use a long spatula to spread buttercream over the top of the cake. Make it all as smooth as you can but don't worry if there are bumps. Rustic is good with this cake!

Chocolate Almond Bark
500g milk chocolate couveture
2 large handfuls of raw almonds

1. Roast the almonds in a moderate over for five minutes.
2. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave - do this in two one minute bursts to avoid burning the chocolate. Continue with 10 second bursts if more melting is needed.
3. Stire the chocolate until all pieces are melted. Pour two thirds of the chocolate onto a cold plate and allow it to cool. Add it back to the rest of the chocolate and stir to thoroughly combine.
4. Chop the almonds - you want the pieces to be large but not chunky. Add to the chocolate and stir to combine.
5. Spread the chocolate onto baking paper. Make three strips no more than three inches wide. Place on trays and chill until the chocolate is set.
6. Cut the chocolate into two inch wide plaques.

Toffee Shards
1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sprinkle caster sugar across the baking paper - make it about 2mm thick.
3. Heat in the oven until the sugar has melted and browned. Do not burn!
4. Allow to cool completely.

Assembly
1. Stick the chocolate plaques to the outside of the cake while the buttercream is still wet.
2. Break the toffee into shards and arrange randomly on the top of the cake.
3. Tie a coloured ribbon around the outside of the cake. If you have it, add some edible glitter to the top of the cake to add some sparkle!

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