We recently hosted an intimate family dinner party for my partner’s 40th birthday – a dinner of 18 guests which while not a fabulously large number of guests it was still a reasonable group to have, and the most we’d had for dinner so far. It was a dinner where champagne was probably going to be flowing so plenty of delicious food and a generous serving of dessert was a must. I felt that a big, decadent yet nourishing (and not overly sweet) chocolate cake of several layers would work well.
Having just tried and tested a (recommended) chocolate cake recipe for my sister’s 30th birthday the weekend prior I decided to repeat this however with a few adjustments, just for fun. (Always love a cake challenge)
So, I made 3 separate cakes, all the same, and trimmed them to equal size once cool. I then made ganache and a light chocolate mousse. Then placed one cake on a board, layered with raspberries, then light chocolate mousse, then placed the second cake on top, and so on. Once I placed the third cake on top, I trimmed edges a little again (keeping all trimmings, these are divine to snack on with yoghurt! Or great to freeze and use in a trifle for example). I finished the cake with a dark rich ganache, and at this point found the ganache to be a little firm so reheated only briefly over a water bath, just to soften enough so that the ganache could drip down the sides of the cake. We also added chocolate dipped strawberries, because why not.
This cake kept so well at room temperature overnight. Allowing it to sit for a day let the raspberries soak into the cake a little, making the cake that little bit more moist – that hint of raspberry juice in only parts of the cake – SO good. When cut and served with cream it was divine.
I’ve shared the recipe below as the cake was easy, fun to make and such a hit. A beautiful (not overly rich) chocolate cake that warms the soul and brings smiles to so many faces I feel is worth sharing. I’ll also note that you don’t have to make 3! I layered 3 cakes to ensure generous 3 layered slice for 18 people, plus plenty of leftovers. You could also make one and cover in ganache.. or slice it through the middle and layer with raspberries and mousse .. or make 2 cakes and layer (if doing this I’d suggest making half as much ganache and mousse, and only defrosting half a packet of raspberries).
(This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction – I used less sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oil and made ganache and mousse plus added raspberries instead layering and icing the cake with a butter frosting)
For the cake (note: the below ingredients are for one cake):
- 1 3/4 cup plain flour (or GF plain flour)
- 1 cup raw sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk (For a dairy free/vegan substitute you can use 1 cup soy or almond milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice – stir well and allow to stand for 5mins before using)
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or coconut oil, melted)
- 2 eggs (For a vegan substitute you can use 1/2 unsweetened apple sauce OR mix 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed or chia seeds with 6 Tbsp. water and allow to stand until all water is absorbed and a gel forms, this may take about 20mins or so)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or essence (I used vanilla essence)
- 1 cup freshly brewed strong coffee (I brewed coffee using a 2 cup stovetop coffee pot, which makes enough for the cake and 2 Tbsp. for the ganache. If using an expresso machine, I suggest using 2 shots of coffee and topping up with boiling water to make one cup for the cake mixture, and just one shot coffee and adding water for 2 Tbsp. for the the ganache)
For the ganache:
- 2 blocks (200g) 70% Dark Lindt chocolate (If you find dark chocolate to be a little rich you may like to use a 60% cocoa chocolate instead)
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (I used organic butter. You don’t have to use butter but this gives the ganache a fuller, creamier less intense feel I find, it’s beautiful. Coconut oil could be used instead, for a different flavour or as a vegan alternative, or just no butter at all)
- 200ml double cream (I used good quality organic double cream, and bought a 300ml tub, and used the extra 100ml for the mousse. For a vegan alternative I would recommend using a can of full cream coconut milk, you may also like to add a dash of vanilla essence to soften the coconut flavour and just for extra yumminess)
- 2 Tbsp. freshly brewed strong coffee
For the mousse:
- You need some of your ganache (about 1/2 cup)
- 100ml double cream (For a vegan alternative I’d suggest using coconut cream and using. chia seeds – see method below)
You also need:
- 1 500g packet of frozen raspberries (allow to defrost before spreading on cakes)
- To begin with preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius, grease a square or round cake tin (a 23 inch works well) and take raspberries out of the freezer to defrost. I just placed them in a bowl and left aside.
- Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl – flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder.
- Then, in a larger bowl add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat using an electric beater until just combined. Then add eggs, one at a time, and beat again until combined.
- Then adding about one cup of dry mixture at a time, slowly mix in the dry mixture, beating on low. Continue cup by cup until all is mixed in. Then add coffee, slowly, beating on slow again, until combined.
- Pour cake mixture into your prepared tin, and bake for 40-45mins. Test cake with a skewer at 40mins, it should be moist in the middle but not still wet. I baked my 3 cakes for 43mins each.
- Once baked, allow cake to cool before removing from tin. I left the first cake to cool while I prepared mixture for the second, leaving the oven on. Once my mixture was ready I removed the first cake, left on a rack to further cool, rinsed and greased the tin then baked the next cake.
- Once I had baked 3 cakes (and I’ll add that you could also just bake 1 or 2 of course) I then made the ganache.
- To make ganache: Firstly, chop the chocolate into little pieces and place in a heat proof medium bowl. Then place double cream and butter in a saucepan and stir on medium heat until the butter is melted through and the cream begins to boil, but only just. Pour the hot cream butter mixture over the chopped chocolate, stir a little and allow the heat of the liquid to melt the chocolate a little (for just a moment), then using a whisk quickly and smoothly whisk all so that the chocolate all melts .. and then suddenly you beautiful ganache. If using coconut milk, heat the milk with vanilla and pour over chocolate and whisk to combine. At this stage I removed about 1/2 of the ganache and placed in another bowl…
- To make mousse: I added 100ml cream and using the whisk mixed the cream and ganache until well combined. I then allowed this to cool completely. Meanwhile I trimmed the 3 cakes and checked that they all sat on top of each other nicely. For a vegan mousse I’d suggest mixing 100ml coconut cream and 1 Tbsp. chia seeds and allow the mixture to cool and set a little, it should set a little like a mousse (as the chia seeds will swell), so you will be able to spread it easily, yum!
- Assembling the cake: Firstly, finished making the mousse – once cool, using an electric beater, beat until it thickens nicely. Then place one cake on a board (or platter), spread half of your raspberries then half of your mousse. Place another cake on top and repeat process. Finally, add the third cake and now for the ganache.. Now I found the ganache to be a little too thick as once cooled it does thicken a bit, so I reheated it a little by placing the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (you could also microwave briefly). Whisk again and then pour over cake. It needs to be of a thick custard consistency so that some stays on top and some drips down the side. You may also like to completely ‘ice’ your cake in ganache. To do this you’ll need your ganache to be thick.
- Once assembled the cake can be left for a day or so, it keeps well at room temperature for a few days, and in the fridge for up to a week.