Things that make my heart sing…
Friends’ engagement parties/weddings
This Chocolate Mud Cake
It’s that time of year where people keep getting engaged or married (engaged to be married!). And, not for the first time, I’ve found myself making a cake for the occasion. But it’s okay, because I like making cakes, and then we get to eat it, in the sun, with a glass of Pinot Gris.
Making this particular cake isn’t the easiest project. In fact, it’s quite fiddly and time-consuming. It requires melting a lot of chocolate in bowls over simmering pots of water, it requires wrapping a cake tin in cling film, and it requires waiting for the mousse to set for 10-12 hours in the fridge.
But it’s soooo worth it. Because it’s delicious and moist and soft and moussey and muddy (?!) and chocolaty all at once. Every single bite does the most wonderful things to your tastebuds.
It’s loosely based on Jo Seager’s Chocolate Mud Cake from the Cook School Recipes, but has been extensively adapted by me.
Oh, and if you’ve still got some patience left after making the cake, you can have a go at making the decorations.
What you’ll need:
- A bag of water balloons
- Some firm, dry leaves (I used lemon leaves as they’re non-toxic)
- Baking paper
- A block of good quality dark chocolate
- Chocolate hail
Blow up three or four water balloons to different sizes. Dip each of the balloons into a small bowl of melted dark chocolate (use a breakfast sized bowl and carefully melt the chocolate in the microwave, taking extra care not to burn it). Roll the balloons around, to ensure all sides are evenly covered. Place onto lined plates and allow to set in the fridge, or a cool place.
Once the chocolate has set you can pop the balloons and carefully pull them away from the chocolate. In order of size, place the chocolate cups inside of each other, placing a little bit of melted chocolate on the bottom of each one so that they stick together.
To make the flower bud in the middle, use a teaspoon to drizzle melted chocolate onto baking paper to form a small circle – about the size of a giant chocolate button. Carefully sprinkle the circle with chocolate hail and allow to set, before placing it into your chocolate flower.
Using a baking brush, carefully brush melted chocolate onto the underside of the lemon leaves. Place onto lined plates and allow to set in the fridge or a cool place.
Once the chocolate has set, carefully peel the leaves away (some may break, some may not work out at all, so make more chocolate leaves than you actually need – just in case).
Carefully place the flower and the leaves in the middle of your iced cake.
- For the cake: 1⅓ cups (200g) plain flour
- 2 tbs cocoa (if you can, use Premium Dutch Cocoa)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into squares (I used 50% Cadbury Old Gold and 50% Cadbury Energy Chocolate throughout the whole cake)
- 225g unsalted butter, softened, chopped
- 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup (125ml) milk
- 20g unsalted butter
- For the mousse filling: 2 cups of cream
- 450g dark chocolate, broken into squares
- 6 egg yolks
- ½ cup caster sugar
- For the ganache: 150g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into squares
- ½ cup (125ml) fresh cream
- 20g unsalted butter
- To make the cake: Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius and grease and line two 24cm round springform cake pan (or if you only have one tin you’ll have to cook the cake in two batches, which is fine).
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda into a bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (or carefully melt it in a plastic bowl in the microwave, taking extra care not to burn it). Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.
- Beat butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating well to combine.
- Add melted chocolate and beat until combined.
- Beat in a third of sifted ingredients, followed by a third of the milk. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated, beating until smooth.
- Evenly distribute the mixture between the two tins and bake for 40-50 minutes; or until the cake has risen and a skewer or knife comes out clean when inserted. Place on wire racks to cool.
- To make the mousse filling: Place cream and chocolate in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until smoothly combined. Set aside to cool.
- Place egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Beat with an electric mixer until very pale and creamy – for about 5 minutes. Mix in the chocolate and cream mixture and beat for an additional 5 minutes. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes has passed, line the original cake tin with cling film, allow a good overhang on each side as you’ll wrap the whole cake in this (you’ll have to place two layers of cling film on the bottom to ensure it overhangs on every side). Place one half of the cake (make sure the cake is completely cool otherwise it will melt the mousse) in the lined tin, then pour in the mousse filling. Place the other half of the cake on top and fold the cling film over to completely cover it. Refrigerate for 8-10 hours, or overnight.
- After 8-10 hours has passed, make the ganache icing by melting the dark chocolate with the fresh cream and unsalted butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Put the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow it to cool and set slightly.
- Finally, remove the cake from the cling film tin and place on a regular plate. Pour the ganache icing over the cake, using a spatula or the back of a large spoon to spread the icing out evenly. Place the iced cake back in the fridge for 1 hour, or until serving time, to set the ganache.