No intricate decorations, fillings or tiers here, just one humble layer of ludicrously fudgy, crinkly chocolate joy (which is, entirely by chance, dairy and gluten free). For a real depth of flavour and the perfect balance of bitter and sweet, take note of my chocolate recommendations and use a good quality olive oil (this recipe idea actually stemmed from a yearning to bake with a deliciously floral, wincingly expensive extra virgin oil I picked up in Greece last month*).
* Disclaimer: don’t judge, I was in that holiday headspace where you flash your card with the sort of cavalier attitude usually reserved for Monopoly money… sufficed to say, I could do with passing GO right now
200g 50% dark chocolate
200g 80% dark chocolate
200ml good quality olive oil
275g light brown soft sugar
75ml strong espresso
Generous pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 9 or 10 inch cake tin.
Roughly chop all the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl along with the olive oil. Put the sugar and coffee in a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (avoid bringing it to the boil at this stage).
Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and bring to the boil to form a syrup, then pour over the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes while the chocolate melts, then stir everything (chocolate, olive oil, sugar, espresso) together to form a smooth, glossy liquid. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then stir in the egg yolks.
Place the egg whites in a large bowl with the salt (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk to stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in two batches using a large metal spoon, then scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin (make sure you don’t scrape from a height or you’ll knock out some of that air you’ve just put into the whites!).
Bake for 50-60 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin. When cooling, the top of the cake will dip and crack- don’t worry, it’s a smooth, flourless torte, not a sponge cake! Once cool, slice up and finish with a dusting of cocoa powder. Serve with creme fraiche, if you like.
Whenever I bake a chocolate cake (the layered kind, not the flourless, fudgy sort) I’m looking for a sponge which actually tastes of chocolate, is really moist without being overly dense and isn’t too sickly sweet. I’m always tweaking my go to chocolate cake with these characteristics in mind and think I’ve pretty much cracked it with this recipe. I’ve teamed the light chocolate layers with honeycomb toppers, salted toffee cream filling and a rich ganache coating here, but you could definitely fill it with chocolate buttercream if you want a pure chocolate fest.
Note: this cake is so extra and is definitely one for a special occasion- you could half the recipe and just coat with ganache if you’re after something indulgent but a little more modest
Ingredients (makes a tall 8 inch celebration cake- feeds 12-14 people)
For the cake:
375g plain flour
300g caster sugar
85g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
large pinch sea salt
175ml vegetable oil
2tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate
325ml just boiled water
2tsp instant coffee granules
For the toffee cream filling:
325g soft light brown sugar
225ml double cream
pinch sea salt
For the ganache:
200g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
300ml double cream
For the honeycomb (this makes more than enough- I use about half and store the rest in a jar for my many weak snacking moments):
120g caster sugar
60g golden syrup
1 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 170c (325F / gas mark 3). Grease and line two 8 inch cake 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.
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).
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.
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.
While your cakes are cooking and cooling you can get on with the filling, ganache and honeycomb toppers.
For the filling, place the cream and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved and you are left with a smooth caramel coloured cream. Set aside, add the salt (to taste) and cool completely. Once your cream has cooled take the butter and whisk (in a stand mixer or with electric beaters) until it reaches a light, whipped consistency then gradually add your cream mixture. Keep whisking this until it has thickened and is spreadable. Set aside for later.
For the ganache chop up the chocolate and scrape into a heatproof bowl or jug, then heat the cream until it just reaches boiling point and pour directly on top. Leave for a couple on minutes then stir to make sure the chocolate has melted into the cream leaving you with a smooth ganache. Set aside to cool and thicken.
For the honeycomb line a baking tray with some lightly oiled baking paper then place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan. Gently heat until all the ingredients start melting together then stir to combine. Turn up the heat and leave to bubble until it reaches a deep golden colour then add the bicarbonate of soda and briefly mix to make sure it’s evenly distributed- it should now start bubbling up and becoming lacy in appearance. At this point pour it quickly onto the lined baking tray and leave to set hard.
Once you’ve made all your elements and they’ve cooled to room temperature you’re ready to assemble the cake. To do this slice any uneven tops off your sponges then slice in half horizontally, leaving you with four layers.
Sandwich the layers on top of one another, filling with the toffee cream as you go. Once stacked, spread any remaining toffee cream all over the cake and then chill for 10 minutes (this setting time makes it easier to cover the cake neatly in ganache).
After chilling the cake spread the ganache all over its surface. I used a palette knife to create a line pattern on my cake to tie in with the honeycomb theme but you could make it super sleek and smooth or go for a really rustic look- it’s up to you. To finish it off break up the honeycomb and use as decorations; I also made some toppers by setting melted chocolate over bubble wrap, but it really isn’t necessary!
I hope you all enjoy this recipe- my family and friends went absolutely mad for it so it’s definitely worth the effort if you’re up for a little bit of a baking project!
This chocolate cake is my absolute favourite; it’s moist, rich and filled with both ganache and buttercream (completely necessary in my opinion!). Make it for a celebration or get together and you will be very popular!
Ingredients (for a 3 layer 9 inch wide cake- half the recipe for a 6 inch cake):
For the cake:
340g plain flour
525g caster sugar
2 1/2tsp baking powder
2 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
185ml vegetable oil
3tsp espresso coffee
375ml boiling water
For the frosting:
600g icing sugar
few drops milk
For the ganache:
250g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
pinch sea salt
For the toppers (optional):
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
any sprinkles, nuts or metallic sprays/glitter you fancy
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
For the cake, place the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl. Stir together with a whisk or wooden spoon.
In a jug, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, milk and espresso. Pour into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Now add the boiling water in batches, gently stirring between each addition (it’s supposed to be runny so don’t worry if the consistency seems a bit odd!).
Split the mixture between the three cake tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until well risen and cooked through. To test whether they are ready, insert a skewer- if it comes out clean it is ready to come out of the oven.
Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a wire rack. Leave to drop to room temperature while you make the fillings.
Firstly, make the ganache. To do this simply chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a jug, then heat the cream until almost simmering and pour straight over it. Leave the chocolate to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to form your ganache. Set aside in the fridge to thicken and cool before you use it.
Now make your buttercream. Whisk the butter until light and fluffy then gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa, whilst beating to combine. Add the vanilla and double cream and give it a final whisk- stop when you have a light, smooth frosting.
If you’d like to make your own toppers, simply melt the chocolate (melt separately for some contrasting shards) then spread a thin layer onto greaseproof paper. Set in the fridge while you assemble the cake then break into pieces and use as you wish.
Now you are ready to assemble the cake. Level off the tops of the sponges with a cake cutter or large bread knife to make sure you have even layers. Take your first sponge and spread over a layer of ganache followed by a layer of buttercream. Top with the next sponge and repeat until you have a stack of three. Cover the whole cake in buttercream and smooth the sides with a palette knife or cake scraper. Decorate with the shards or any other decorations you fancy.