It is almost the end of the year, and I think we all deserve a celebration in style. Of course, what better way to celebrate any occasion than with a chocolate cake. Two layers of dense fudge cake, and a fantastic fudge frosting. The frosting is my favourite part, to be honest, because it is so smooth and delicious. You can even double the quantities and make an even taller cake, with a thicker layer of filling and frosting.
Feel free to boost up the coffee amount, too, if you like prominent coffee taste in your desserts. Keep in mind, though, that the cake is very rich, so a little goes a long way. It keeps really well at room temperature, so do not fret about leaving it on the table at dessert time, the frosting does not sag. And with a centrepiece that this cake it, it really would be a shame not to place it in the middle of the table.
For the chocolate fudge cake layers
200 grams dark chocolate
250 grams butter
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
200 grams granulated sugar
120 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
For the chocolate fudge frosting
200 grams butter
100 grams high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
200 grams granulated sugar
100 grams dark chocolate, chopped
120 ml heavy cream
For the chocolate shards
100 grams milk chocolate
lustre dust (optional)
For the golden chocolate drip effect
150 grams white chocolate
75 ml heavy cream
¼ teaspoon golden yellow gel food colouring
1 teaspoon gold lustre dust
1 teaspoon Vodka
Start by making the cake layers. Take a large bowl, add in the chopped chocolate, along with the diced butter, and melt everything on low heat, until completely smooth and blended. Once melted, remove it from the heat, and add in the coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar, and whisk vigorously until well-combined. Let this mixture stand for a minute or two, just so it could cool down slightly. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each egg. Finally, sift in the cocoa powder, and the plain flour, and fold them through gently. Do not overmix the batter. Take two round cake pans (23 cm, 9″), grease them lightly and line them with baking paper. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth it out as much as possible, and bake them in the preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 20 minutes. Check them with a toothpick for doneness, then let them cool completely in the pans.
While they are cooling, make the fudge frosting. Take another heavy-bottomed saucepan, and add in the diced butter, granulated sugar, and sifted cocoa powder. Place the saucepan on low heat, and mix until everything is blended. At one point it will seem dry, but just stir it gently, and keep melting. Heat up the cream slightly in a separate bowl; it does not need to come to a boil, just warm is fine. Once everything is melted, add in the milk chocolate, and stir until melted. Once that melts, start adding in the heavy cream, a little bit at a time, mixing as you pour in. Do not pour the heavy cream in large batches, because the filling will separate. Pour it in really slowly. When you blend everything together, remove it from the heat, and let the frosting cool down almost completely.
Once the cake layers and the frosting are ready, remove the layers from the pans, and place one of them on the serving platter. Place the frosting in a large piping bag and pipe a swirl of frosting on the first cake layer. I recommend piping on the frosting instead of spreading it on, because it makes the smoothing easier. Smooth the frosting, and place another cake layer on top. Place the cake in the freezer for about 10 minutes, just to set it up quickly. Remove from the freezer, and decorate with the rest of the fudge frosting as you like. Place the decorated cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
To make the chocolate shards, take a clean piece of acetate or a piece of baking paper, and lay it flat on a cold surface (marble countertop works really well). Melt the chocolate slowly over low heat or in the microwave, and let it cool down for only a minute, then pour it onto the acetate, and spread it in an even layer, using an offset spatula. Do not spread it too thinly, because it can and will break later on. Let the chocolate set up, then break (or cut) it into shards. Paint golden lustre dust on some of the shards, if you wish.
To make the golden drip decoration on the cake, melt together the white chocolate with the heavy cream, remove it from the heat, and add the food colouring. This will help with the decorating further on. Mix it well until the colour distributes evenly, then let it cool down slightly. Take the chilled cake out of the refrigerator and create the drip effect either by gently drizzling the glaze, or pouring it into a squeeze bottle and glazing the top and sides.
Take the previously made chocolate shards, and position them on the cake as you wish, then let the glaze set up completely at the room temperature. This is much easier than cutting the set up glaze to position the shards. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Make the golden paint by mixing together the golden lustre dust with the Vodka. You may need to add a tad more or less Vodka, depending on the lustre dust you are using, but you are aiming for a thick paste, because it will leave less streaks. Take the chilled cake, and carefully paint along the drips, then let it set up in the refrigerator. Yields 20 servings.
By Tina Vesić