Saturday, 3 March 2012

Dark Chocolate, Rum & Almond Birthday Cake

Birthday cakes come in all shapes and flavours, so for my younger brother's 30th birthday I decided to make a special boozy variation of his favourite childhood chocolate cake. Laced with rum and almonds, and topped off with a gorgeous rich dark ganache, this is a fabulous cake for any celebration, plus a lot of fun for an idle baker and little helpers to decorate.

Serves 10-12
Recipe adapted from the Ultimate Chocolate Cake by Angela Nilsen at the BBC Good Food website, see the recipe here

for the 2 cake bases:

300g light muscovado sugar
200g butter, room temperature, chopped into small pieces
4 eggs, room temperature
25g cocoa powder
200g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces
85g ground almonds
85g self raising flour
quarter of a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons dark rum
75ml half fat creme fraiche

1. Turn the oven to 160C (140C fan ovens), and grease and line two 18cm or 20cm round baking tins.

2. Stir the chocolate pieces, butter, and rum in a pan over a low heat until melted. Put to one side to cool.

3. In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients (sugar, cocoa, almonds, bicarb and flour), stirring until combined. Make a well in the centre of the ingredients.

4. In another bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy, before adding the creme fraiche.

5. Next fold in the chocolate mixture and the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring gently until just combined, to create a smooth batter.

6. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 prepared baking tins, and bake in the oven for about 1 hour 20 minutes. You'll know the cakes are done when a skewer comes out clean and the tops spring back under your thumb.

7. When baked, take the cakes out of the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes in their tins, before placing on a wire rack or plates to cool further.

for the chocolate ganache icing:

300g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces
378ml double cream
3 tablespoons golden caster sugar
180g flaked almonds
Queen white chocolate fudge writing pen to decorate, optional

8. To make the ganache,  place the chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl.

9. Heat the double cream and caster sugar gently in a pan over low heat until it is about to boil, then quickly pour the mixture over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the ganache has come together smoothly. Cool briefly.

10. Meanwhile, place the flaked almonds in the oven to lightly toast for 10 minutes and then take out to cool.

11. When ready, place the first cake base upside down and spread a quarter of the ganache over it. Then sandwich it with the second cake, before spread the rest of the ganache around the sides and the top of the cake.

12. Press the toasted almond flakes around the sides of the cake, before piping ganache rosettes around the edge of the top using a piping bag. Leave the icing to set. If you want to hurry this process along just place the cake in the fridge for a while.

13. Just before serving, you can use melted white chocolate to write Happy Birthday if you wish to, but I cheated and used a simple writing fudge pen from Queen which I thoroughly recommend to all similarly idle bakers.

14. Serve with whipped cream. Keep any leftover cake in the fridge.

This cake was idly baked to the sounds of The Black Keys album El Camino.

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