Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!
Oh the chocolate cake, such an enchanting treat, a blissful extravagance that makes the saying ‘one second on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ seem as irrelevant as a cat amongst a streak of tigers. A saviour for some and an evil for others, one bite of that which is the most scrumptious of sweet indulgences is sure to have the former believing that they have died and gone to heaven, and the latter throwing any diet plans out of the window, at least for an afternoon – that is if it’s been created with care, and made as close to perfection as possible. Moist yet sturdy, rich yet with a sweetness that makes the palate beg for more.
Said to be born in the mid 1700’s, in a period where chocolate was consumed primarily as a beverage, the chocolate cake has been tantalising the sweet tooth for around two and a half centuries, and has become a staple dessert on many a restaurant menu. It is certainly the concluding dish that has me leaving that little bit of extra room in my stomach and has often been known to be the defining factor when it comes to choosing where to dine using my Gourmet Society card.
Not merely to be enjoyed at the end of a feast however, the chocolate cake is ideal for many a circumstance. The most obvious of which being a loved one’s birthday party, where the chocolate cake can be used as the most delightful of centre-pieces, though it also has a place as one of the many lip-smacking luxuries found on the oh so quintessentially British repast that is the afternoon tea, a naughty midday decadence, or between friends during a game of Poker – what, that was just me? Well, I implore you to give it a try next time you have a game!
On today of all days, lovers of the cocoa based delicacy should be jumping for joy, smiling from ear to ear, and rejoicing like Christmas Day is repeating itself, as today is National Chocolate Cake Day! Ok, I may be laying it on a tad thick (which, incidentally, is exactly how I like my icing), but here at Gourmet Society we are determined to celebrate, and celebrate we shall, by bringing to you four mouth-watering recipes dedicated to the much-loved pudding. Each concoction (barring the last one) is good for 10 generous portions, and is sure to have you adoring every bite.
Chocolate Fudge Cake
175g butter or margarine
175g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
200g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175 ml of milk
50g softened butter or margarine
2 tbsp cocoa powder
¾ tsp instant coffee granules
½ tsp vanilla essence
275g icing sugar
Where better to start is there then with the old favourite, the chocolate fudge cake? A wondrously creamy number that will just fall apart in the mouth and that promises to be truly pleasurable for the whole family. Begin by heating the oven to 180 C (Gas 4) and grease up a 30 x 20cm cake tin before, in a separate bowl, creaming the butter and sugar until it looks nice and blended, then stir in the vanilla essence.
Here, being the sweet hound that I am, is where I like to have a little taste – always with a clean spoon, which I make sure to throw in the sink afterwards. Ok, I know it sounds disgusting, and to many it will be disgusting, but what can I say – I have a rather strange palate. Anyway, I’ve gone off course a little, so next up are the eggs, which you are to add one at a time, beating the mixture after each one, until it is sufficiently fluffy.
After-which comes the flour, which should be thoroughly sifted to avoid clumping, as well as the cocoa, the bicarbonate of soda, and salt – which should all be added to the bowl and beaten again until smooth before being spread in the tin and baked in the oven for around 30 minutes – insert a skewer before cutting, to ensure that it is cooked all the way through.
Once you are confident that the cake is ready, leave it to stand outside the oven as you make the icing, which for me is perhaps the most important aspect of the whole process. To do such, combine the butter, cocoa powder and instant coffee, before adding vanilla essence, egg and icing sugar – then beating it until smooth and spreading over the rested cake. The recipe can be altered and cut into squares for a sumptuous selection of brownies – perfect for a larger group gathering.
Baileys Chocolate Marshmallow Cake
260g self-raising flour
85g cocoa powder
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
240ml vegetable oil
120-150ml Baileys Irish Cream (quantity advised, the amount depends on the strength of the Baileys flavour desired)
180ml boiling water
Toasted Marshmallow Filling
16 large marshmallows
125g icing sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
215g marshmallow cream
Baileys and Belgian Chocolate Frosting
6 tsp Baileys Irish Cream
336g butter (room temperature)
600g Icing sugar
A pinch of salt
8oz quality Belgian chocolate
Next up is a combination of two cakes that I found while conducting research into several different cake styles, and I must say that, upon trying it once, I will certainly be attempting it again. The flavour of the Baileys, the richness of the Belgian Chocolate, and the texture of the marshmallow is a grouping that I am certain I will relish time and time again.
The creation of the cake is very much the same as the above, so I won’t bore you again with the details, I will however advise more Baileys, but that is just because I am a huge fan of the creamy liquor. The oven again should be pre-heated to a 180 C temperature, however this time two cake tins are advised due to the toasted marshmallow filling (though you could just cut the one sponge in half, if presentation isn’t too much of a priority).
When it comes to said filling, simply spread your marshmallows across some aluminum foil after spraying them with a non-stick cooking spray and placing it on the lowest rack of the oven, broiling until nice and brown and keeping an eye out so that they don’t burn. After this turn them over and repeat the process. Next, beat the butter and powdered sugar slowly, adding the vanilla extract as you speed the beating for three minutes, until you add the marshmallow and mix for one minute, slowly once more, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
Once the cake has rested and has begun to cool down, you will then add the marshmallow mix to the bottom level and sandwich with the top, before covering it all with the Baileys and Belgian chocolate filling, which again is developed using a very similar process to the above, whereby the Belgian chocolate is melted carefully in the oven and is beat with the butter, icing sugar and whipped cream, adding the Baileys Irish cream and salt, once more having been beaten slowly.
White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake
75g digestive biscuit (crushed)
75g ginger nut biscuit (crushed)
75g melted butter
400-600g white chocolate (the more the sweeter)
½ vanilla pod
500g cream cheese (ricotta recommended)
50g caster sugar
25 fresh raspberries
180ml whipping cream
Optional Extra: 50ml Chambord black raspberry liquor
In my eyes, this is the most divine of the choices, and one that holds a certain sentimentality to it, as it was my mother’s go-to dessert. Yes, I was fairly spoiled as a child, and continue to be so to this day, at least at adult standards.
Begin by making the base, breaking up the biscuits and adding the butter, blending into a mixture and pressing into a 23cm springform tin, leaving it to rest while you create the filling. For such, place the chocolate, butter and vanilla pod into a heat-proof bowl and set over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water until melted – and allow it to cool slightly.
Mix the cream cheese, sugar and whipping cream into another bowl, until the consistency is smooth, before stirring it into the chocolate mixture, as well as, should you so desire, the black raspberry liquor – being sure to remove the vanilla pod beforehand. It is at this point that you stir in the raspberries (leaving a few raspberries for decorative purposes), being careful not to release the juice, spooning the mixture onto the biscuit once satisfied.
Once completed, you should set the cake in the fridge for about 24 hours – quite a wait for a dessert as magnificent as this one, but well worth it!
Chocolate Cake Martini – 2 glasses
75ml vanilla vodka
50ml hazelnut liquor
3oz crème de cacao
1 tbsp sweetened cocoa powder
2 lemon twists
Optional extra: A splash of Chambord Black Raspberry liquor
A little against the grain but, as a someone who enjoys my Chambord, this is one indulgence that I had to include. This is, of course, the quickest and the easiest of the lot and makes for an enchanting end of meal drink for those that have had their fill in the courses previous, or a wonderfully captivating beverage to enjoy on a night out (though I wouldn’t advise it while drinking with a group of lads, unless you have a very, very thick skin).
Its creation is straightforward, simply fill a glass with some cold water and ice to ensure freshness, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, vanilla vodka, hazelnut liquor and the crème de cacao before shaking vigorously. Empty the glasses and dip the edges into a flat dish filled with the sweetened cocoa powder, adding the twist of lemon and a splash (and I mean a splash) of raspberry liquor – allowing for that hint of raspberry – should you so desire it.
There is a popular figure of speech in the English language, that is ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’, and this is something that I’ve never understood. Oh, I get the meaning well enough, that, at least in layman’s terms, it means that you can’t have everything, or you can’t have things all ways, but you better believe that if I have a cake in my possession, I’m going to damn well eat it – particularly if said cake is one of the heavenly options mentioned in this very piece!
By Calum Dewsbury