I made this cake for a chocolate loving friend’s birthday last weekend. It is a deeply decadent, double layer, dark chocolate brandy cake filled and iced with a whipped dark chocolate ganache. The cake itself has a light texture and therefore makes a nice contrast to the ganache. The recipe is based on a rich chocolate rum cake recipe by Alison Holst (as published in Alison Holst: The Ultimate Collection). The recipe below makes one layer so double it for 2 layers. A single batch makes a low cake that would be suitable as a dessert for 6. Making two batches and assembling as a double layer makes it a spectacular offering. This recipe is designed to be made in a food processor. However, it is possible to make it without one (alternative instructions are included). Apologies for the absence of a nice picture of the final product, by the time it was iced the party had started and I was partaking in liquid celebration in a form that dinoysus would approve – not conducive to posing cake for pics.
Decadent Chocolate Brandy Cake
Preparation Time: 10 min mixing, 30 min cooking, 1 hr cooling, 20 min icing
Specialist Equipment: food processor, cake mixer
Cake (x by 2 if making a double layer cake)
75 g good quality dark chocolate (I recommend a high quality 60 % coco chocolate)
1 C caster sugar
1/4 C boiling water
150 g soft unsalted butter
3 free-range egg yolks
1/2 C sour cream
1.5 Tbl brandy
1 C plan (pastry/cake) flour
1 tsp baking powder
Filling/Icing – Chocolate Ganache
250 g chocolate
200 g whipping cream
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Clip a sheet of baking paper into the base of a spring form baking tin (this ensures a clean removal) and lightly grease the bottom and sides with either butter or spray oil. If you do not have a spring form tim, still line the bottom and sides of whatever tin you have with baking paper.
Break the chocolate chunks and place with the sugar into a food processor. Process on high speed until the chocolate is finely chopped. Add boiling water and process until melted and combined. If you do not have a food processor, grate your chocolate, add with your sugar and boiling water over a double boiler arrangement, and fully melt the chocolate before moving onto the next step. When melting chocolate in a double boiler, the water in the bottom should not be boiling otherwise you risk heat damage and splitting your mix. Once the chocolate mix is made remove from the double boiler and proceed with adding the reaming ingredients as per the food processor version below using a cake mixer to combine instead.
Add the softened butter and process the until smooth. Add egg yolks, brandy and sour cream, and process again. Transfer the mix to a relatively large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and carefully fold the wet and dry ingredients together. Your aim here is to combine the ingredients without knocking air out of the mix. You can find a demo video of this technique here.
Spoon the mix into your lined tin making sure to fill all the way to the corners of the tin. In the cooling cake pic below the cake on the left was not filled all the way into the corners, so it has a rounded edge instead of a nice corner like the one of the right. Gently flatten off the top of your cake and and place into the preheated oven.
Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until a small knife or skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. The original recipe recommends cooking until the cake springs back when pressed. These cakes are not terribly springy, so testing in this manner may lead to overcooking. Cool the cakes for at least 1 hour. You can fill the gap by making the ganache.
To prepare the ganache, take the chocolate and chop it into small pieces 1/2 cm diameter or smaller. I use a large cerated knife to do this (seems to be more effective than a straight edge) or you could do this in your food processor. Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the milk, stirring regularly, until it is just boiling. Tip this milk over the chopped chocolate. Allow to stand for a few minutes without stirring then stir gently until the mix is smooth. Add a couple of capfulls of brandy to the molten chocolate and allow the mix to cool to room temperature. When the mix has cooled beat with an electric mixer until the ganache becomes lighter in color. If the mix is over beaten it will split and have a gritty mouth feel. If this happens put the mix over a double boiler and heat gently to re-melt and start over.
Assemble the cake by spooning 1/4 of the mix onto the lower half of the cake, spreading it nearly to the edges and placing the upper half on top. Coat the cake with the remainder of the mix. By this stage I wasn’t too fussed about the final finish, but if I was I would have used a pallette knife or long straight edge knife dipped in hot water and long smoth motions to get a smooth finish.
This ganache can be used unwhipped if you want a dark shinny finish. This makes a nice icing, but not a great fill. If you would like to try using unwhipped you will need to chill the cake first. Brush any crumbs from the chilled cake and cover with a thin layer of room temperature ganache. Return the cake to the fridge and chill until this shell has firmed. Apply a thicker second, and final, coat and again chill. This finish will be much heavier, but very decadent. Any left over ganache can be chilled and turned into chocolate truffles.