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The ultimate (blue) chocolate cake

Nicholas is now a big three years old (although it depends on what he does or doesn’t want to do whether it’s “mummy, I’m big!” or “mummy, I’m little!”). And I promised myself it wouldn’t take me a year to blog about it (like his second birthday).

When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted on his birthday he very decisively requested a blue chocolate cake. I have to admit cheering loudly to myself. Even though I’m a big chocolate lover, hubby isn’t and has a tendency to sulk if I make anything chocolatey for other people.

We even had an argument one year when I requested a chocolate cake for my birthday but he wanted to make me his pineapple upside down cake (which I do love) because surely I’d be happier if everyone could enjoy the cake (um… I think I’m allowed to be a little selfish one day a year!). Anyway he did come through in the end and made me the yummiest chocolate brownies.

Back to the blue chocolate cake, this was the perfect excuse to make a lovely decadent cake I’ve had saved in my favourites for a while, Angela Nilson’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake. And having made it twice now, this is definitely my ‘go to’ chocolate cake from now on! It’s a deliciously decadent fudgy chocolate cake that stays moist for several days, so perfect to make a day or two ahead. Its richness also means you can serve up smaller slices making it feed more people.

Nicholas and his requested blue chocolate cake
I always read any comments people make when looking at recipes online. In the comments left by people who’d made Angela’s cake there were two very helpful suggestions made by different people: make the ganache that gets poured over the finished cake first so it can cool and thicken in the fridge; the amount of sugar in the cake can be reduced a lot.

It is amazing how much you can often reduce the quantity of sugar in recipes without really noticing a difference. Since I started experimenting with cooking more healthily after having Nicholas, I’ve successfully reduced the sugar for most of my favourite sweet recipes sometimes even reducing it by as much as 25%. Next time you do some baking, why not try taking out some of the sugar and see if you notice the difference.

The original cake recipe has 400g in total of sugar (200g each of light muscovada and golden caster sugars). As suggested, I used 250g in total, a very large reduction, and it was still a very sweet cake! I also omitted the 2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar in the ganache as I thought it was unnecessary and again it was definitely sweet enough. So a slightly healthier version of the original recipe ;).

The original recipe uses dark chocolate in the ganache. I used white chocolate to be able to give Nicholas his requested blue cake and it was a nice pop of colour having some blue sandwiching the cake together.

Being a bit lazy, I cooked my cakes in two separate tins to avoid having to cut through the middle later when decorating it. This also reduces the cooking time (another bonus!).

The ganache recipe makes a lot. I used it to sandwich together the two cakes and poured it over the top, but still had a small bowlful left. You could use the leftovers to ice cupcakes, or warm it a little and pour over ice cream or dollop over frozen berries.

Please try to ignore the big crack on the top!

THE ULTIMATE (BLUE) CHOCOLATE CAKE

Prep time: 30-40 mins
Cook time: 45-55 mins (mixture divided into 2 tins); 1hr 20 – 1 hr 30 mins (mixture cooked in 1 tin)

For the ganache:
200g good quality white chocolate, chopped or broken into fairly small pieces
284ml carton double cream (pouring type)
A few drops of food colouring

For the cake:
200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids, chopped or broken into fairly small pieces
200g butter, cut into cubes
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
85g self-raising flour
85g plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g light muscovado sugar
125g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
75ml (5 tbsp) buttermilk

To make the ganache, pour the double cream into a small saucepan and heat gently over a low heat until it’s just about to boil. Meanwhile put the pieces of white chocolate into a bowl.

Once the cream is almost boiling, take it off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add a few drops of food colouring and stir through.

Put the ganache in the fridge to cool and thicken while you make the cake.

To make the cake, butter two 20cm round cake tins (if using just one tin it needs to be at least 8cm deep) and line the base with baking paper.

Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3.

Put the pieces of dark chocolate and butter into a medium, heavy-based saucepan. Mix the instant coffee into 125ml cold water and add it to the saucepan. Gently melt over a low heat, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom. (Or melt in the microwave on medium for about 5 minutes, stirring half way through.)

While the chocolate is melting, sift the self-raising and plain flours, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into a big bowl. Add the light muscovado sugar and golden caster sugar and stir getting rid of any lumps.

Once the chocolate mixture has melted, pour it into the dry ingredients and add the beaten eggs and buttermilk. Mix until everything is thoroughly combined and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour into your prepared tin/s and bake until a skewer comes out clean and the top feels firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit): 45-55 mins if dividing it between two tins or 1hr 20-1hr 30 mins if baking it as one cake.

Leave to cool in the tin (don’t worry if it dips slightly), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

If you’ve made one cake, cut it horizontally in half once cold. If you’ve made two, you might need to level the top of the one which will be your bottom piece (if that is the case, you must then eat the bits you cut off to ensure the cake is ok ;)).

Sandwich the pieces together with some of the ganache, then pour more ganache over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. Decorate as desired.

third birthday 'selfie'

Tip: You’ll have leftover buttermilk after making this cake; use the rest to make wonderfully light pancakes (just do an online search for ‘buttermilk pancakes’).

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