This week has seen the good people of Britain out in their thousands to celebrate the birthday of a very special lady. Up and down the country tea parties on The Common were held in her honour as people huddled under soggy gazebos to enjoy a cucumber sandwich and a cuppa. Ladies and gentlemen, today the marks the culmination of events with the big day itself, my birthday.
Whoop, whoop! Go shorty, it’s your birthday…. gonna party like, eh well a 37 year old Mum on a Tuesday. School run followed by Scouts then football practice, YESSSSSSSSS! Fear not though, this day shall not pass without ridiculous amounts of cake scoffing to mark the occasion. And not just any old cake either, noooooooooo no no; the chocolate cake of all chocolate cakes, with copious amounts of amaretto incorporated at every possible opportunity.
Regular readers will know that I make a lot of cakes for other people. From cascading roses on a wedding cake to towering superhero birthday cakes, most weeks I can be found fiddling around with fondant. So it will come as no surprise that when my birthday rolls around a Madeira / Jam / Fondant combo doesn’t quite do it for me. Out goes the fluffy vanilla sponge in favour of dense, moist, alcohol soaked chocolatey-ness. Buttercream is replaced with the darkest of thick ganache; no form of fancy decor required bar dark chocolate truffles and a dusting of gold lustre because it makes me happy .
It’s a great big lump of a thing, in no danger of winning any beauty contests, but to me it’s the epitome of utter gorgeousness! The ultimate in self indulgence, each individual component made just the way I like it. This one is for the serious chocolate lovers:
Dense chocolate sponge layers, moist and laced with enough amaretto to produce a satisfying ‘squidge’ factor. This cake laughs in the face of Death By Chocolate!
Sandwiched with chocolate ganache, whipped to a spreadable consistency.
Coated in a layer of white amaretto buttercream, an aesthetically pleasing contrast to the thick dark chocolate (with a glug of amaretto) ganache topping.
Topped off with gold dusted truffles and a halo of gold confetti.
*A choir of Angels sing*
I wish I could share a slice with you all but I’m afraid it’s virtual cake for now, sorry!
P.S. This cake is the realisation of my deepest darkest cakey fantasies but should anyone fancy giving it a go the recipe is below. Ironically this post was going to be about the backlash of the new National Obesity Forum report on low fat diets but it’s my birthday so sod it, here’s a cake with enough double cream to feed a Mall full of Royalists instead.
Chocolate Amaretto Cake of Dreams
135g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large egg
75ml vegetable oil
75ml boiling water
120g butter, very soft
300g icing sugar
1 tblsp amaretto
400g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200ml double cream
1 tblsp amaretto
cocoa for dusting
(You will use this ganache 3 ways, more on that later)
Heat oven to 180c. To make the sponge, mix all ingredients except boiling water and amaretto until well combined. Slowly add the boiling water and amaretto. This will give you a very wet looking mix – don’t panic. This is nothing like the sponge mix I would use for a standard cake – it’s more like a mud cake, very moist and dense.
Pour into a lined 6″ cake tin and bake for 1hr (checking with a skewer from around 45mins if the centre is baked, I usually cover the top of the cake in foil for the last 15mins). Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin, wrap in cellophane and transfer it to the fridge. I do this part a day or two in advance as I find it is easier to work with and also it means you can break the stages up depending on how much time you want to spend in the kitchen in one go!
To prepare the buttercream add icing sugar to butter and mix until fluffy, add amaretto very gradually to loosen the mixture to a spreadable consistency (you may not need all of it). Again you can prepare this a day or so in advance if you prefer. I don’t refrigerate mine as I don’t want it to firm up.
Next, the ganache mix, which will be used 3 ways. To sandwich the layers together, to cover the top of the cake and to make the decorative truffles. Place the chocolate chunks in a large bowl. In a saucepan bring the cream to a boil on medium heat, once it starts to boil immediately pour it over the chocolate and leave alone. The heat of the cream should be enough to melt the chocolate. After about 5 mins mix gently and allow to cool for a further 10 mins. Very slowly add the amaretto until combined.
Once cool separate the ganache mix into 3 – I use tupperware boxes. Place 1/3 in the fridge. Put 1/3 aside and pour 1/3 into the mixer. Whisk on high until the ganache starts to thicken and lightens in colour.
Remove sponge from fridge and slice into 3 equal layers. Use the whipped ganache to sandwich the layers together.
Use a thin layer of the buttercream to cover the outside of the cake in a crumb layer. This should ‘catch’ most of the dark crumbs so they don’t ruin the end appearance. Refrigerate for 30mins and use the remaining buttercream to coat the cake. If you prefer a smooth finish on the cake run a large spatula knife around the edge and across the top to remove any lumps and bumps.Return to the fridge to allow the buttercream to firm up.
In the meantime take the fondant from the fridge which should be firm by now. Use a teaspoon to scoop a lump (however big you like your truffles!) and roll between your hands to make a ball shape. Roll in cocoa until covered. Set aside to firm up and repeat with remaining ganache.
Remove cake from fridge and pour the remaining 1/3 ganache on top so it overflows down the sides (use the back of a spoon to ‘help’ it if needed). Depending on how hot/cold your kitchen is this ganache may have started to set so you might need to loosen it up with a few seconds in the microwave to get a nice pourable consistency.
Finally top the cake with the truffles and whatever decoration takes your fancy (I used edible gold lustre and gold confetti). Voila! The most decadent, moist and sexy looking cake you’ve ever laid eyes on – ENJOY!