Good things come in 3's...not 1, not 2, but THREE chocolate cakes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I wanted to do a post about chocolate cake. But then I had a think, and decided I could do better than that. So I thought - what's better than chocolate cake? Oh, I know. Three chocolate cakes! I present to you the Chocolate Almond Flourless Cake, the Chocolate Raspberry Buttercream cake and last but not least, Nigella Lawson's Sour Cream Chocolate Cake.

Yet strangely, chocolate cake just doesn't really do it for me. By no means am I one of those weird people who just doesn't like chocolate. So before you get all...
Steady on, because I love chocolate. However, chocolate cake...I just don't really get it. It's like chocolate in a poorer format. Mix it with all that flour and butter and I think it loses its sparkle somewhat. Now obviously many chocolate lovers out there would call this slightly blasphemous. So I'm working on my love of chocolate cake. A hard task I know, but someone has to do it.

It started with the discovery of a Flourless Chocolate Cake, which is cake 1 of 3 today. It uses ground almonds instead of flour, and gets its batter-raising credentials from whipped egg whites.

To make this gluten-free cake, you will need:

100g butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
flour, for dusting
140g best-quality dark chocolate, with 70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
140g ground almonds
1 tbsp kirsch or Cointreau (optional)
pinch of salt
85g caster sugar

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Firstly, preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3/fan oven 150C. Grease a 23cm/9in springform cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Dust the sides with a little flour. Melt chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Heat until melted, then remove the bowl from the pan and stir until smooth. Now leave to cool while you get on whisking the egg whites.

Separate eggs. Yolks can be mixed in with ground almonds, while the whites need to be whisked with the sugar until soft peaks form. If you're unsure of what soft peaks are, this will help:
You want them sticking to your whisk, but not completely firm. While whisking, slowly add all the sugar. Now you want to slowly fold the whisked egg whites into the chocolate,almond and yolk mixture. I say fold, not just combine, as this step is very important in getting a light, airy cake. Check the quick video for a guide as to how to do this properly.

Once that's done, pop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until well risen and just firm to the touch. Cool in the tin, and don't get disheartened if it cracks or shrinks. It's perfectly normal and will still taste fantastic.

This cake goes down really well, as although it's very rich the ground almonds add a real lightness to it. You can leave it plain or, like I did below, slice it in half and ice it. A simple ganache of melted chocolate and double cream (equal measures of both) is fantastic, and with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds it's almost like one of your five a day.

Now time for the Chocolate cake with Raspberry Icing. Made with real raspberries, it's a perfect chocolate/berry combo. 

For the cake:
50g cocoa powder
6tbsp boiling water
3 large eggs
50ml milk
175g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
100g soft butter
300g caster sugar
For the raspberry icing:

100g butter, cubed and at room temperature

75g cream cheese

150g raspberries

250g icing sugar, sieved

The chocolate cake recipe comes from the ever-fabulous Mary Berry. It's essentially just a chocolate victoria sponge mix and is a great base for a variety of icing and topping options.

Heat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Use 2 victoria sponge sandwich cases for this - grease and line bottoms. You then want to measure the cocoa into a bowl, add the boiling water and mix until you form a rich, chocolatey paste. DON'T eat it. Or do, and learn pure cocoa by no means tastes as good as it smells.
Deceptively delicious looking, tastes much like bitterness personified.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined - use a whisk and some elbow grease, or use a hand mixer or food processor - far easier. Now to just divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins and bake in the pre-heated oven for about twenty-five to thirty minutes until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.

For your icing, whip out my favourite...good old frozen berries! You can use fresh, but frozen works just as well. Defrost slightly in the microwave, then blend up.

Once blended, it's a little bit annoying but we've got to get rid of those pesky pips. So push blended berries through a sieve into a bowl, and you should be left with some delicious fresh raspberry puree in the bowl. Now you want to blend this with your butter and cream cheese, along with the sieved icing sugar. This results in a gorgeous pink, thick icing. 
Sieving out pips.
Ice the top of one cake, then place the other on top and repeat. Decorate with a few extra berries, and your raspberry chocolate cake is done!
Aswell as tasting great, it looks smashing too.

By this point, you might start thinking I'm not as reluctant to bake/eat chocolate cake as I initially set out to be. And with the discovery of this third and final cake, I feel sure my feelings towards chocolate cake have changed dramatically for the good. It's moist, rich, and really everything you'd want a chocolate cake to be. This is a Nigella Lawson recipe taken from her book How to be a Domestic Goddess. Make this cake and you will have more than earned your domestic goddess stripes.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
For this cake, you will need:

200g plain flour

200g caster sugar

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt
200g soft unsalted butter
40g best cocoa
150mL sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Icing

80g milk chocolate

80g dark chocolate

75g unsalted butter

125ml sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp golden syrup
300g icing sugar, sieved
1/2 tsp hot water

Quite a lot of ingredients! But it's actually a complete doddle to make. All you have to do is mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream in a food processor or electric mixer and mix until you've achieved what looks (and tastes like...mmm) like a good, chocolately cake batter. Divide cake mix between the two tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes. When cake is done it will start to shrink away from the edges of the tins. 

While that's baking, make the icing. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a gentle heat on the stove, combine fully and leave to cool a little. Now stir in the sour cream and vanilla. This is when it all starts to look fantastic.
Marble swirls of delight

Add in your golden syrup and sift in the icing sugar and whisk together. My icing was a little runny for my liking, so i popped it into the freezer for 10 minutes which worked well. As for icing the cake, you'll want to leave it to cool down beforehand, but pretty much...just slap it on! In an attractive manner, of course

I found some sugar flowers in my cupboard and decorated it with those - perhaps you could use sprinkles too? Or go very retro and dig out those silver icing balls from your birthday parties as a kid.

Three chocolate cakes down, and I've not only found a love for chocolate cake but also a whole variety of chocolate cakes for different occasions. Bake your flourless chocolate cake for something a bit posh, as its dense chocolate flavour is ever so sophisticated. The raspberry one is visually stunning and makes a great cake to bring to any party. And make the sour cream cake for when you seek nothing but pure, smooth, chocolatey goodness. They went down well with these lovely people and I highly recommend giving them a go!
Lydianna getting stuck in to some sour cream chocolate-y goodness...
While Johno quite literally couldn't get the chocolate almond cake in his mouth quick enough!
A very pretty Chocolate Raspberry cake...
Fitting for these two gorgeous girls!

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