I like chocolate…a lot.
For many years I would have happily sat down and inhaled (for there is no more accurate a term) a large bar of Dairy Milk without batting an eyelid. Looking back I now feel a little ashamed that I would do that sort of thing, partly because it’s pure greed in action and partly because I remain unconvinced that I got any joy out of doing it. It was very much a case of “I’d like some chocolate” rapidly escalating into “I want ALL of the chocolate. Now!”
As I’ve aged, and worked to regain control of my weight, my inner chocoholic has become less feisty and much more manageable – though there are still days when it rears its ugly head and demands a cocoa sacrifice to be made in its honour. The good news for me is that I’ve learned that this can be done through the application of small amounts of quality chocolate instead of vast slabs of the cheap stuff. I can make a box of Hotel Chocolat treats last for a week, as two or three are more than enough in any one sitting – try doing that with a box of Milk Tray.
So…what has all of this got to do with a cake recipe? Well, I believe that the same is true with almost any cake as it is with chocolate – if it tastes cheap you’ll get no satisfaction from it and will just eat it for the sake of it. If it’s rich and full of flavour a single slice is often more than enough. I’ve had too many “chocolate” cakes in my time that are little more than a slightly brown sponge cake – you can smell something resembling chocolate but you’ll be damned if you can taste it. I’ve also had plenty that are so rich you almost need a nap to recover after eating a single mouthful. Finding the balance between the two is not easy but I think this cake hits that spot pretty well.
The first time I made this cake at full size for other people (rather than as a miniature version for our little home) was for my Mother-in-Law’s birthday. The decoration went a little off-piste and it didn’t quite turned out as beautiful as I’d hoped, but when a cake tastes so good all external flaws are quickly forgiven…
Ultimate Chocolate Cake
for the Cake
- 250 g Plain Flour
- 100 g Good Quality Cocoa Powder
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- 250 g Butter, at room temperature
- 200 g Soft Light Brown Sugar
- 200 g Caster Sugar
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 tbsp Instant Coffee, dissolved in 1 tsbp hot water
- 100 g Dark Chocolate (60% cocoa solids or higher), melted and cooled
- 200 ml Whole Milk
for the Filling
- 75 g Butter, at room temperature
- 100 g Icing Sugar, sifted
- 25 g Good Quality Cocoa Powder
- 1 tbsp Whole Milk
for the Ganache
- 250 ml Double Cream
- 250 g Dark Chocolate (60% cocoa solids or higher)
- 100 g White Chocolate
Make the Cake
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
Line the base of two deep 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper and set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together and put to one side.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until they're light and fluffy - getting air into the mixture here is essential.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture between each egg until everything is well combined.
Fold half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, followed by the melted chocolate and coffee, then the rest of the flour mixture. You want to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed but not overworked, so don't beat the mixture too hard. Add in the milk to give a smooth, slightly runny consistency.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake for 45 minutes until cooked through. Check that a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean to be sure they're cooked.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning them out and cooling completely on a wire rack.
Make the Filling
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa and mix well, adding a little milk to soften the mixture as needed. Put to one side until needed.
Make the Ganache
Cut the chocolate into small chunks and put into a large bowl.
Put the cream into a heavy saucepan and heat over a moderate hob until almost, but not quite, at a boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir well, until you have a rich, smooth consistency. You'll want it to cool before you use it, but make sure it doesn't set too much otherwise it will be hard to work with.
Assemble the Cake
Put one of the cakes onto your preferred serving plate. Spread the buttercream filling over the top and then sandwich with the other cake. Pour the ganache over the top of the assembled cake and smooth down the sides with a palette knife. Grate the white chocolate over the top of the cake to the design of your choosing.
Grab a cuppa and enjoy!