I have made this cake twice – once as a wedding present for a dear friend and once for my huband’s birthday – both in 2013, both decadent as anything and both having gone down an absolute treat with their respective recepients.
Weddings and wedding presents – always a tricky one for me. There are those people that tell me what they want and make my life easy. And then there are others who I care about, but I have no clue as to how my miniscule contribution could make a difference to there generally well set up lives. It is in the latter situation that I usually opt for cooking (usually baking) something for them so that they can remember the taste of it (and perhaps its maker) for many years to come.
I’m not a huge chocolate eater myself but I knew my friend was and I know my husband definitely is. It is his weakness and I often joke that he’d be easily kidnapped if someone dangled dark chocolate on a stick in front of his eyes. So, for me, this cake was a challenge on many levels – coming up with the right texture, appearance and taste for the occasion were very important. So I set about surfing the internet for inspiration and ideas and came across this lovely recipe by Lindsay & Taylor and I decided to give it my own twist.
Hope you like it and will give it a go.
The first time around, I used the full recipe and made one 6-inch round cake and a little oval cake as a tester. Both were 3-layered. The second time around, I halved the ingredients and made a 6-inch cake but with 4 skinnier layers.
For the cake
2 cups sugar
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cherry wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 gms of black cherry conserve or kirsch soaked cherries
For the white chocolate mousse (adapted from Maria’s Menu)
200 gms white chocolate
300 ml whipping cream, chilled
For the dark chocolate topping
100 gms dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tablespoons warm water
For the dark chocolate dinosaur (read about tempering)
200 gms of dark chocolate
For the pistachio praline
55g (1/3 cup) pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) water
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Butter and line 3 baking dishes with baking paper. Butter the baking paper. I only had two 6″ trays so I had to bake the last layer in a second round in the oven.
3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together – flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Stir until you have an evenly coloured, light brown mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add the buttermilk, cherry wine, vegetable oil and vanilla essence to the eggs. Whisk well with the addition of each ingredient to arrive at a slightly frothy, rather pink liquid.
I just love the pretty pink swirls the cherry wine makes when it hits the buttermilk…
5. At this point, I hit a bit of a problem. My bowl wasn’t big enough to hold both wet and dry ingredients. So I split the dry ingredients into two bowl and split the pink liquid between the two bowls. The layers might not have turned out as even tasting as I would have liked them to but they were very good indeed!
6. Split the batter into your baking dishes remembering that you need to make 3 layers, whatever be the shape. As you can see from the pictures, I made one circular one and one oval one. In both cases, I had to make the last layer in baking round two.
Tip: I would recommend baking the layers the day before you want to assemble the cake.
7. Bake the cake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. Cool all the layers for at least an hour. Then run a knife along the edges of your baking tray to loosen the cake and turn them onto a wire rack. Chill them overnight if you want to assemble it the following day or freeze them for up to a month if you are planning this for a special occasion in the future.
9. The last thing I did on day1 was to prepare the white chocolate mousse. The original recipe calls for butter cream frosting which I really can’t stand – hence this improvement. It may not look as pretty and spread as nicely as butter cream but tastes infinitely better – in my opinion at least.
10. Whip 3/4 of the cream to stiff peaks and set aside. To make the chocolate mousse, break the white chocolate into bits, pour 1/4 of the cream onto it (75ml) and microwave it on low (750W) for 30 seconds. Give it a stir to encourage the chocolate to melt. Repeat for another 20 seconds if needed, to obtain a smooth, glossy white chocolate mixture. If you’ve overdone it, your chocolate will be a dry, crackling light brown cake so keep an eye on it at all times.
11. Once the chocolate has melted, gently fold in the whipped cream and mix until you get a smooth and glossy white mixture. Chill this overnight so it sets into spreadable yumminess. You can have a good night’s rest before you assemble this cake the following day or you can continue.
12. To assemble, grab a cake stand – I chose a golden one which isn’t great for pictures and slightly tacky but that’s all I could find in small-town England unless I bought a pack of 5. I’m sure you can find something more attractive. Warm your cherry preserve in the microwave for 20 seconds so it is spreadable. Keep your cake layers ready to go.
13. Brush the cherry preserve in a neat-ish circle on the cake stand and place the first cake layer onto it. Spread another layer of cherry preserve onto the first cake layer.
14. Now spread a layer of the yummy chocolate mousse onto the cherry preserve and place the second layer of cake on top of the mousse.
15. Repeat step 14 to add the third cake layer. Do you think it is decadent enough ? Well, I don’t…
16. Finally, cover the entire cake in the remaining white chocolate mousse, using the blade of a blunt knife or a palette knife to smoothen the layer.
17. Now for the next layer of decadence….the chocolate topping. To make the chocolate glaze or topping, place chocolate and cream in a bowl and place the bowl over the top of a pot of boiling water. The water should not touch the bottom of the chocolate bowl else it will burn. Once the chocolate has melted, take it off the heat and place it on a kitchen towel. Add water to the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until it has a pouring cream consistency. Cool completely before pouring over the cake – else, the mousse layer will melt and create a marbled mess.
18. For the first version of this cake, I tried to melt the chocolate in the microwave oven – I over did it and it didn’t look great. Tasted good but could have looked better so be careful while making the glaze…
19. Nope, not done yet. For my husband’s cake, I decided to finish off with a tempered chocolate dinosaur and thought I could use pistachio praline as the grass/forest in which the dinosaurs roamed.
20. The tempering was a minimally successful mission as it only produced 1 viable dinosaur despite me trying to make several white and dark chocolate ones…The method I used was the microwave method in this article…I think I was too impatient to cut the dinosaur’s and broke many of them. Whatever you do, DON’T chill the tempered chocolate as it completely loses its glossy appearance.
21. And finally, the praline – well, I didn’t cook the sugar long enough so it was more like pistachio candy despite me trying to follow the recipe from this page.
22. I know this isn’t the easiest of cakes to bake but if it is for someone you care about, it is totally worth the effort. Overall I thought I had some good ideas like the dinosaur but executed them poorly. However, the cake looked alright and tasted pretty awesome. My friend and my husband loved it and that left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.