Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Chocolate Christmas Cake

We always seem to be visiting someone or having guests over Christmas so I wanted to share with you one of my favourite things, Chocolate Christmas Cake with gingerbread Christmas trees. None of us are very keen on a traditional Christmas cake but there is something magical about serving a slice of cake and a glass of wine to our holiday visitors.

What is special about this cake is that it has a hidden Christmas tree inside that is only revealed when it is cut, a special extra christmassy surprise. The gingerbread trees make the perfect topping and add that spice that we associate with this time of year. To accompany this delicious cake I would pair it with a Tempranillo wine with its smooth flavour bringing out that rich chocolatey flavour, a match made in heaven. 

Chocolate Cake:
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
4 large eggs, beaten
250g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon milk

Method Chocolate Cake: 
Preheat oven to 180C and grease 2 X 20.5 cake tins lining the bottom of the tin.
1. Put butter into mixing bowl and beat until creamy, then gradually beat in the sugar until its lighter in colour.
2. Gradually add the eggs a tablespoon at a time beating well throughout. With the last two tablespoons of the egg mixture add 1 tablespoon of the weighed flour. 
3. Sift the remaining flour, salt and cocoa powder into the bowl and gently fold in. Add the milk. The mixture is quite firm but if you want it to be less firm add more milk. 
4. Divide the mixture between your two cake tins and bake for 60 mins at 180C.
5. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
6. Chill in the fridge wrapped (to make icing easier)
7. Cut out the top of the cake, I used a bowl to help guide my cutting. This allows for a deeper filling and is where your Christmas tree will go. I made the christmas tree using green royal icing but it would work with marzipan too. I rolled it out into a roll and then pinched the top to create the tree shape. 

This is the bowl I used to cut the hollow for the buttercream and you can see the green christmas tree behind ready to go in.
8. Fill the hollow bits in both cakes with buttercream (see recipe below) and press the green christmas tree in, then put the two pieces together. I found it easiest to pipe the buttercream in to stop the cake crumbs from spreading.

9. Ice using the ganache icing recipe below and then decorate with gingerbread christmas trees.

Buttercream Filling:
125g unsalted butter, softened
400g icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method Buttercream:
1. Put the butter into a mixing bowl and beat until pale in colour and creamy. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl. Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and thick.

Ganache Topping:
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
100ml whipping cream

Method Ganache:
1. Finely chop the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.
2. Heat the cream up so its hot but not boiling and pour it over the chocolate slowly.
3. Leave for 2 minutes before gently stirring. 
4. When its firm enough to hold its shape you can use it to ice your cake.

Gingerbread Christmas trees:
350g plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
175g unsalted butter
150g dark muscovado sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup

Method Gingerbread:
Preheat oven to 180C
1. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a large saucepan (it needs to be big enough to hold all of the ingredients). Place on a low heat and stir until everything is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and tip in the flour mixture, mixing well to form a dough.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead into a ball. I always then chill mine wrapped in cling film for 30 mins before using.
4. Roll and cut out your christmas trees and place on a lined baking tray.
5. Bake for about 8 minutes and leave to cool on tray before removing.

My boys and I had great fun putting this cake together. They really enjoyed making the gingerbread trees (a few dinosaurs got in there too) and even though they are too little to ice they enjoyed helping to stir and put the cake together. It made us feel very Christmassy indeed and who can resist a Chocolate Christmas cake and gingerbread trees! 

This post is my entry into the Yapp Festive Foodies' Christmas Blogging Competition which you can find more about here: Yapp Brothers Competition.

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