Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas present cakes

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas cake. However, fruitcake lovers are few and far between these days. I don't actually like Christmas cake myself but I do love chocolate and so have taken to making chocolate Christmas cakes instead.

This decadent chocolate cake recipe is not mine (it came from the Food Lovers site) but it truly is fail-safe so I have adopted it as my absolute favourite super-chocolate mud cake recipe. It has become my staple birthday cake and special occasion recipe. The mixture is large and so versatile. It easily doubles and halves. It can also be made in advance (several days - the flavour just gets better) or frozen. I actually made this cake a few weeks ago, cut it into quarters and froze them until this week when I was ready to decorate the cakes for gifts.

As for the chocolate, dark is good and I like using Whittaker's 72% Dark Ghana when baking for chocolate lovers. However, I substitute Whittaker's 50% Dark Block when baking for children as it gives a rich, chocolately flavour that is more mellow and not quite as bitter for the sweet toothed among us.

Decadent chocolate cake

  • 250 g butter
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 200 g chocolate
  • 2 cups (440 g) sugar or caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  1. Preheat oven to 140°C. Grease and line a 23 cm (9") round cake tin or 25 cm square tin.
  2. Place coffee, water and butter in a pot and melt together. Add chopped chocolate and stir gently until smooth. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Pour mixture into a large bowl and stir in dry ingredients on a low speed until just combined.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla essence together and add to the mixture. Mix well on medium speed with an electric mixer.
  5. Pour into cake tin and bake for 90 minutes NOT on fan bake. Check cake after 60 minutes to see how it is progressing. Remove from oven when cooked and cool in cake pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire cake rack to cool completely.
Decorate any way you wish. A thick layer of condensed milk chocolate icing tastes great. Otherwise, you could cover it with dark chocolate ganache or buttercream frosting. I used a thin layer of buttercream for these Christmas present cakes, covered them in fondant and then decorated them with handmade sugarpaste decorations.

These cakes were decorated for the three ladies in my 'pod' at work. They reflect the colours they like and their personalities as I see them, along with a little bit of 'me' somewhere on each cake. This was my way of thanking them for a wonderful year working together while surprising them with a special, personalised gift each. Their reactions were priceless!

She's a serene, oasis of calm in an open plan office. A lover of all things blue with a desire to step out of her comfort zone and try wearing an orange scarf ... one day.
She's classic, elegant and simple sophistication. Less is more for this refined lady.
She's colourful, vibrant and the loudest person you will ever meet, with everything rushing off in every opposite direction - just how we love her.

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