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Chocolate Layer Cake

One for the Chocoholic…well a slice at least.

Chocolate sponge dessert.
A moreish chocolate sponge cake with layers of summer fruits and fresh cream. Crème de Cassis and a chocolate cream, flavoured with star anise, add a touch of luxury.

Well, I had to make something sweet to show off my latest charity shop purchases – Two retro jugs, a 60’s glass plate and a nondescript little pot – all for a tenner.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Genoise Sponge:
4 eggs.
115g caster sugar.
90g plain flour.
25g cocoa powder.
55g melted butter.
1tsp vanilla extract/flavouring.

Chocolate Cream Coating:
400g dark chocolate – 70% cocoa.
300ml milk.
100ml double cream.
2 tsp sugar.
3 star anise.

Fruit Filling and Sauce:
500g Frozen summer berries – use mixed fresh berries if you like.
100g sugar.
Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
5 tablespoons of Crème de Cassis. Or use Blackcurrant juice if you prefer.
4 tbls cold water.
4 tsps cornflour mixed with 5 tbls cold water.

Cream For Filling:
100ml whipped cream.

Chocolate Flakes/scrolls:
200g Dark chocolate:

Garnish to serve:
Fresh summer fruits – I chose raspberries.
300ml Double creme.

Method/cook:

Chocolate Genoise Sponge:
Grease and line a 20cm x 25cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Set oven to gas mark 6 or 400°f/200°c
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl – set aside.
In a small dish mix together the melted butter and vanilla – set aside.
Crack the eggs into a heat proof bowl, add the sugar, and whisk over a pan of simmering hot water, with a electric whisk, for 5 minutes.
When the egg and sugar mixture has thickened and increased in volume, to ribbon stage, remove from the heat.
Using a balloon whisk, gently fold half of your sieved flour and cocoa powder, and half of your melted butter mix into the egg mixture.
Fold the remaining flour, cocoa and melted butter into the egg mixture.
Pour sponge mix into prepared cake tin.
Bake at gas mark 6 or 400°f/200°c for 20-30 minutes on middle shelf.
Once baked leave to cool.

Chocolate Cream Coating:
Break 200g of the chocolate into small pieces and place into a pan along with the milk, cream, sugar and star anise. Bring to a simmer and gently stir the ingredients until all the chocolate has melted. Turn the heat to its lowest setting and leave for 5 minutes for the star anise to impart a subtle aniseed flavour.
After the 5 minutes, remove milk and chocolate mix from the heat. Strain to remove star anise and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
Melt the rest of the chocolate (200g) in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted add to the cooled milk mixture and whisk by hand to incorporate all the ingredients into a chocolate cream. It will thicken to a fudge texture as it cools further.

Fruit Filling and Sauce:
Place all ingredients, except cornflour and water mix, into a pan.
Place pan, with lid, on a low heat and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.
Once the the ingredients are simmering stir in the cornflour and water mix.
As soon as the fruit mixture thickens, remove from the heat and place in a clean bowl to cool. Once cooled, refrigerate until chilled through.

Chocolate Flakes/scrolls:
Melt chocolate, in a heat proof bowl, over simmering hot water.
Once melted, pour chocolate onto work surface, marble slab – or, as I do, a piece of slate. See image:_V2A4098
Leave the chocolate to set at room temperature.
Note: If the chocolate is too cold it won’t form scrolls/shavings so don’t be tempted to speed up the cooling by placing it in the refrigerator.
When the chocolate has set, scrape a knife along the surface of the chocolate to create the shavings. See Image:_V2A4106
Use the blade of the knife, horizontal against chocolate, and drag from top to bottom across the surface of the chocolate. Keep the top of the knife slightly tilted towards you. Don’t dig the blade into the chocolate, just add enough pressure to create the scrolls/shavings.
Keep scraping across the chocolate until you have enough flakes/scrolls to cover the cake – top and sides. Transfer the choc’ flakes/scrolls to a clean tray and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Building The Cake:
For the final cake I cut 4 oblong sponge slices- approx’ 12cm x 22cm and 2cm in thickness. See image:_V2A4094
Drizzle each slice of sponge with Crème de Cassis or blackcurrant juice. See Image:_V2A4096
Pipe, narrow, lines of cream onto three of the slices and spoon fruit filling between the lines of cream. See image:_V2A4099

Now stack the sponges to create the layers – lightly firm and remove any cream that may ooze out. See Image:_V2A4101

Cover the stacked sponge with the chocolate cream: See image:_V2A4103

Now cover your cake with your chilled chocolate flakes/scrolls.
Finally, pass the remaining fruit filling through a fine sieve to be served as a sauce.

Tip: If the sauce is to thick after chilling just add a little more Crème de Cassis or blackcurrant juice.

Serve:
Serve your final cake with fresh pouring cream, fresh fruits of your choice and the fruit sauce.
Enjoy.

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Honeycomb Dessert

Rich and sweet – as a dessert should be.  A great looking pud’ that can be made several days in advance, saving you time and effort.

Honeycomb / cinder toffee dessert.
A crisp brandy snap basket filled with honeycomb ice cream. Served with mini chocolate sponge squares, chocolate sauce and raspberries topped with lemon sugar.

Enjoyed this today after lunch – just having a lie down.

Honeycomb / cinder toffee:
100g caster sugar.
2 full tbls golden syrup.
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda.
Oil for greasing

Ice Cream:
Recipe will make approx’ 2.4 liters of ice cream – when combined with honeycomb.
900ml of double cream.
150g sugar.
3 tbls cold water.
5 large egg yolks.
1 tsp vanilla extract/flavouring.
Juice of half a lemon.

Chocolate Genoise Sponge Squares:
4 eggs.
115g caster sugar.
90g plain flour.
25g cocoa powder.
55g melted butter.
1tsp vanilla extract/flavouring.

2 tbls apricot jam/marmalade.
1 tbls water.
50g grated dark chocolate.
raspberry liqueur or brandy.

Brandy Sanps:
50g brown sugar.
50g butter.
1 dessert spoon/50g golden sryup.
50g plain flour.
1/2 tsp ground ginger.
1tsp lemon juice.
1tsp brandy (optional).
Vegetable oil for greasing baking tray.

Chocolate Sauce:
100g dark chocolate – 70% cocoa.
160ml milk.
50ml double cream.
1 tsp sugar.

Raspberries and Lemon Icing:
Small punnet of Raspberries.
3 level tablespoons sugar.
Juice of half a lemon.

Cook/Method:

Plan ahead when making this dessert as the ice cream will need twelve hours in a freezer before it’s… well, ice cream. The great thing about this ice cream is that you don’t need an ice cream maker. Just follow the method and pop it in the freezer. In the words of Gordon Ramsey, “ice ∗∗∗∗ cream ∗∗∗∗ done.”

The chocolate sponge, brandy snaps and honeycomb can all be made several days in advance – store in air tight containers. “Put your feet up and have a coffee,”  what’s wrong with that Gordon?

The chocolate sauce can be made the day before and kept in a refrigerator – heat up and serve when needed. “Go to the pub for an hour,” no need for expletives here, Mr Ramsey.

The Raspberries with lemon icing, just make on the day you plan to serve.

One – Honeycomb:
Grease and line a 25cm x 20cm non-stick baking tin with good quality grease-proof paper. Extend the greaseproof paper beyond the edges of the tin by 2.5cm or 1 inch.
Have ready a balloon whisk.
Have ready a heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
Put the sugar and syrup in to a thick bottomed pan. Place on a low heat and stir. Slowly melt the sugar and syrup until the grains of sugar have melted.
Turn up the heat slightly and cook the sugar mixture to a light caramel.
Remove from the heat and immediately add your bicarbonate of soda and quickly whisk.
Pour mixture into your greased and lined baking tin.
Leave to cool for 1 hour and 30 mins’.
When cold remove from tin, peel off greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container. Set aside to add to the ice cream later.
Note: I usually double the ingredients and save half of the cooked honeycomb as a treat – when I have been good.

Two – Ice Cream:
Note: Jam/sugar thermometer not essential for making the ice cream but handy if you happen to own one.
Whip the double cream until it turns thick and creamy – don’t over whip – set aside in refrigerator.
Put sugar and cold water into a thick bottomed pan. Place on hob on a low heat. Do not stir, let the sugar slowly melt to a syrup. While the sugar melts go to next step.
Add the five egg yolks, lemon juice and vanilla extract to a heat proof mixing bowl.
Place mixing bowl with egg yolks and lemon and vanilla over a pan of simmering hot water and whisk for 5 minutes with a electric whisk. Take care not to scramble the eggs. The mixture should turn a pale cream colour and thicken to ribbon stage. Remove from the heat and whisk for two more minutes – set aside.
Check your sugar. If you have a sugar/jam thermometer place in the pan with melted sugar and bring heat up to 230°f/110°c. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer turn up the heat to medium and cook the sugar syrup for 2 minutes – don’t let the sugar syrup colour.  The syrup should be clear and starting to produce surface bubbles as it simmers.
When sugar syrup is ready let it cool for two minutes then whisk sugar syrup into your egg yolk mixture. Whisk for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Add your whipped double cream to the egg yolk and syrup mixture, and using a balloon whisk, thoroughly fold the mixture together.
Take your previously made honeycomb and crush into small peices. Fold crushed honeycomb into the cream mixture.
Pop the mixture into an airtight container and freeze for 12 hours.
Pat yourself on the back and have a cup of tea.

Three – Chocolate Genoise Sponge:
Grease and line a 20cm x 25cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Set oven to gas mark 6 or 400°f/200°c
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl – set aside.
In a small dish mix together the melted butter and vanilla – set aside.
Crack the eggs into a heat proof bowl, add the sugar, and whisk over a pan of simmering hot water, with a electric whisk, for 5 minutes.
When the egg and sugar mixture has thickened and increased in volume, to ribbon stage, remove from the heat.
Using a balloon whisk, gently fold half of your sieved flour and cocoa powder, and half of your melted butter mix into the egg mixture.
Fold the remaining flour, cocoa and melted butter into the egg mixture.
Pour sponge mix into prepared cake tin.
Bake at gas mark 6 or 400°f/200°c for 20-30 minutes on middle shelf.
When the sponge has cooled wrap in cling film and store in the fridge.

To make the sponge squares:
Cut as many squares of sponge that you will need – approximately three to five 2cm squares per person will be enough. Freeze any sponge that you don’t use.
Place your sponge squares on greaseproof paper and pour a teaspoon of raspberry liqueur/brandy over each one. Set aside.
Gently heat your apricot jam/marmalade and water until jam is melted.
Brush your sponge squares, on all sides, with the melted jam.
Roll your sponge squares in grated chocolate. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.

Four – Brandy Snaps:
Preheat oven to gas mark 4 or 350°f/175°c
Lightly grease, with oil, two upturned ramekin dishes.
Add Butter, sugar and syrup to a pan. Place on a low heat and stir until sugar grains have melted. Remove from the heat.
Add the brandy and lemon juice to the sugar mixture and stir.
Add the sieved flour and ground ginger.
Heat your greased baking tray in the oven for 3 minutes.
Once tray is heated, remove from the oven, and place two, separate, heaped dessert spoons of the brandy snap mixture on the tray. The mixture spreads as it cooks so place each spoonful far enough apart so that they don’t run into each other.
Place tray in oven to cook the brandy snaps – approx 15 mins’.
When the mixture has spread and turned to a golden brown, remove from the oven.
Leave the brandy snaps to cool for 30 seconds before attempting to lift them from the tray.
Using a palette knife, or wide metal scraper, carefully slide under the brandy snap. Lift brandy snap off the tray and drape over an upturned ramekin dish – mold the brandy snap over the ramekin to create the basket shape.
Once cooled and set remove the brandy from ramekin and store in an airtight container.

Tip: Loosen around the edges of the brandy snap first before sliding palette knife all the way under.
Tip: If the brandy snap becomes crisp before you have had the chance to mold it over the ramekin – place brandy snap back on the tray and put back in the oven for a minute to soften.
Tip: Use two trays and cook four brandy snaps at a time.

Five – Chocolate Sauce:
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place all the ingredients into a small pan.
Heat over a gentle heat until all the chocolate has melted into the milk and cream.
Simmer and lightly hand whisk until smooth. ( Don’t boil.)
Serve hot or cold.
When left to cool the chocolate sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered receptacle.

Six – Raspberries and Lemon Icing:
Place 3-5 raspberries per person on greaseproof paper.
Place sugar and lemon juice into a pan.
Heat on a low heat while stirring.
The sugar will go cloudy and start to turn to a soft icing – if it goes hard add a tablespoon of water to soften.
Spoon a small blob of the sugar mixture on each of the raspberries. The sugar icing should be thick enough not to run off the raspberry and will set to a hard crust on the outside.

Serve.

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