Growing up, I remember always having chocolate cake for my birthday. It was the one day in the year that I got to decide what kind of cake I wanted, and as far as I remember, it always had to be CHOCOLATE. (Yes I am a chocoholic and am proud of it!) It was always store bought cake from a delicious bakery near where we lived, and even when we moved, mum would go down to get that Chocolate Etoile cake for me. What was there not to love about light spongy layers of chocolate cake smothered in rich, creamy chocolate mousse. Ah yes, those were the days.
When I started cake decorating a few years ago, I decided that I would start making my own cakes, as well as my hubby's. (He gets a chocolate cake every year too!) This gave me the opportunity to experiment with different recipes (always chocolate!) and dress my cakes up the way I wanted. Funnily enough, I love my cakes simple. Just pure, decadent chocolate cake is what I want.
This year, I decided, after much research, that I would use Julie le Clerc's recipe for her Valrhona chocolate pearl cake for my birthday cake. This cake happens to be gluten free as well, so even better! And oh boy oh boy, I think it is one of the best, most decadent chocolate cakes I have ever had! Plus, on your birthday the calories don't count, right?
Since there is no flour in the cake, the bulk of it is almond meal, and you get that slightly nutty taste together with the chocolate, which I love. The cake is then smothered in dark chocolate ganache and covered in crunchy chocolate pearls. Yuummmyyyy!!! Julie le Clerc's recipe is available in her book, Favourite Cakes, available at Amazon. (See website link on the right).
Another chocolate cake that I love by Kim Evans of Little and Friday. She owns a couple of cafes here in Auckland and her chocolate cake is a must try for anyone who visits. It is also available in her book, Treats from Little and Friday. Try covering it in ganache and coconut as that how she makes her lamingtons. Delish!
The third chocolate cake I love is this mud cake. I found the recipe online and have used it several times to make my husband's cakes as I find it carves well and holds it shape for the 3D cakes I make for him. If you have not tried mud cakes before, this is definitely one to try and it is rich and chocolatey, and it goes very well with the ganache. Best of all you can put away your cake mixer, everything can be done by hand. Always use the best quality chocolate you can afford because it does make a difference! I have tweaked the recipe slightly. (see changes in brackets below)
Recipe for Chocolate Mud Cake (Recipe from www.exclusivelyfood.com.au)
250g chocolate (125g dark chocolate and 125g milk chocolate)
250g butter (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt with the butter)
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules/powder
188ml (3/4 cup) water
325g (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) plain flour (I changed it to 285g)
30g (1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
550g (2 1/2 cups) caster sugar (I changed it to 500g)
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons (40ml) oil (any mild-flavoured oil) (I used canola oil)
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (not fan-forced). Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper.
- Place chocolate, butter, coffee and water in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate and butter have melted, remove mixture from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl.
- Add the caster sugar to the bowl with the flour mixture, and mix well with a whisk.
- In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, vanilla and buttermilk until well combined.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
- Now add the chocolate mixture to the egg and flour mixture in a three batches, stirring until combined after each addition.
- Pour mixture into your cake pan and bake for about 1 hr 30 min or until a skewer in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in pan before removing. Make and spread the ganache over the cake.
Recipe for Chocolate ganache
250g chocolate (equal mix of dark and milk), chopped
- Heat the cream in a pot til scalding. Take off heat.
- Add chopped chocolate and whisk till smooth and creamy.
- Set aside to cool until ready to use or use warm to pour over cake.
What is your favourite kind of birthday cake?