Salted Chocolate Cake with Coffee Mascarpone & Hazelnut Praline Caramel

Cakes

I made this cake last weekend for my Dad’s birthday and it went down a storm. Granted, the flavours aren’t subtle and it’s not for the faint hearted (which neatly mirrors my Dad’s personality actually), but the punchy combination of bitter coffee, nutty hazelnut, rich but surprisingly light chocolate sponge and salted milk chocolate ganache just work (duh- that amount of cream, sugar, salt and chocolate is always going to be delicious).

Ingredients (serves 12-14)

For the hazelnut praline caramel

  • 100g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • Generous pinch sea salt

For the sponges

  • 375g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 325ml milk
  • 175ml vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 325ml just boiled water
  • 2tsp instant coffee

For the salted milk chocolate ganache

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 275ml double cream
  • Generous pinch sea salt

For the coffee mascarpone filling

  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 100ml double cream

  1. Start off by making the hazelnut praline caramel.To do this simply place the caster sugar in a heavy bottom pan over a medium heat and swirl the pan until it melts. Once melted, up the heat until the sugar reaches a deep golden brown. At this stage add the toasted hazelnuts, stir to coat then tip onto a baking paper lined baking tray. Leave to set hard, then blitz into a paste. Set aside. Pour the cream into a saucepan and gently heat. Once the cream is gently simmering add in the praline paste and stir to create a caramel. Cook down for a few minutes until thickened, then set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line two 8 inch baking tins. Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave in short stints, stirring often). Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl stir together the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, lightly whisk the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the contents of the jug into it. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until well combined then add the melted chocolate and stir again (I just use a balloon whisk for this- nothing electric is required as you don’t need to incorporate much air).
  4. Pour your just boiled water over the instant coffee granules and once they’ve dissolved, gradually add to the chocolate batter, stirring gently with your whisk as you go. The final cake batter will be very thin but don’t worry, it bakes beautifully.
  5. Split the mix evenly between the prepared tins and bake for 45-55 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached). Once baked leave to cool completely in the tins.
  6. While the cakes are cooling make the ganache. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it meets scalding point then pour over the chocolate. Allow the cream to melt the chocolate for a few minutes then stir until smooth and glossy. Add salt to taste then set aside to cool.
  7. For the coffee mascarpone crush the coffee into a fine powder then just whisk together all the ingredients until smooth.
  8. When all the elements are cool you’re ready to assemble the cake. Your cakes will probably have a domed top, so trim these off then divide each one into two even layers (leaving you with 4 layers overall).
  9. Scrape the hazelnut praline caramel into a piping bag. Split the mascarpone into thirds. Spread one third of the mascarpone over the first sponge layer then pipe over a third of the caramel in a zigzag (so that each slice will have some caramel inside!). Repeat this step until you’ve used up the sponges, then rustically cover the whole cake in the thickened ganache.
  10. Garnish with edible dried flower petals.
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2 thoughts on “Salted Chocolate Cake with Coffee Mascarpone & Hazelnut Praline Caramel

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