For those of you who find fruitcake at Christmas "Ho-hum" then you are going to find today's recipe a great idea for a festive looking yet deliciously chocolate treat! It is a beautifully light chocolate cake with layers of Italian meringue buttercream, finished with a meringue, gently browned to give some dimension that just screams White Christmas! The berries also add to the festive touch of this cake and I am sure if you try it, it will make a stunning centerpiece on your Xmas table.
This recipe is from woolworths.com.au and I haven't changed the ingredients however I did find the method a bit confusing so I've tried to break it down and make it a bit easier to understand below.
Fair warning, this one is definitely for those of you with a sweet-tooth and please do read my tips below for this recipe!
An electric mixer is going to make this recipe A LOT easier for you but you can also do this recipe with a hand mixer if needed, it will just take a little bit longer. I would not recommend this recipe if you don't have an electric beater of some sort.
Please use a GOOD QUALITY cocoa powder for this recipe or you will not get the lovely chocolate flavor
If you don't have a sugar thermometer to test the sugar syrup, you can check if it is done by simple adding a little of the syrup to a bowl of iced water and it should be able to be rolled into a ball - once you can see a change in consistency (around 8-10 minutes) test and see if the sugar syrup will form a ball in iced water, if it just dissolves it is not ready so you need to continue the process a bit longer
Do not make your sugar syrup before you are ready to pour it into your meringue or it will set hard in your saucepan and become unusable
Before whipping your egg whites for your meringue ensure they are room temperature for best results
A brulee torch will give your meringue that lovely browned look but you can serve it without that effect if desired. Below is the brulee torch I used and it comes with a gas cylinder too by Scanpan
A cake board during assembly will make it easier to move your cake to your serving plate/stand - mine was a bit large for my cake so ensure you get the right size, it was all had on hand so I had to make do
Instead of the buttercream you could sandwich this cake together with a chocolate ganache or even a Nutella-like filling and I think it would taste amazing.
You could skip the merigue and try it with just a simple yet delicious buttercream frosting or chocolate ganache frosting and make it into a decadent chocolate cake
YOU WILL NEED
3/4 cup premium Dutch pressed cocoa
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
200g | 7 ounces unsalted butter at room temperatures, chopped
1+1/2 cups caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1+1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Berries of your choice to garnish and decorate (in hindsight a few mint leaves would have worked well too)
Meringue & Buttercream
1+1/2 cups caster sugar
4 egg whites (room temperature is best)
200g | 7 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease 3 x 18cm /7 inch round loose-based cake tins and line bases with baking paper.
In a mixing jug, whisk 1 cup of hot water with cocoa to dissolve. Stir in the milk and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium for 10 minutes or until very pale and creamy (it will almost resemble whipped cream).
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
In a large mixing bowl, sift flour with the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and then add a third of the flour, cocoa mixture and butter mixture, stirring well between each until combined. Continue two more times until everything is well combined.
Divide mixture evenly between your 3 tins and smooth surface.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile prepare your meringue and buttercream - reserve 1/3 cup caster sugar in a small non-stick saucepan with 1/3 of a cup of water and set aside on your stove. Do not turn on until you have finished whipping your meringe first.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with the remaining reserved caster sugar until soft peaks form and the sugar has dissolved so you can no longer feel the sugar granules in the mixture. This can take several minutes.
Turn on your stove and over medium heat and gently stirring allow the sugar to dissolve. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until it reaches ‘soft ball’ stage or 115°C/240°F on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat.
Turn your electric mixer back on at a medium speed and slowly add the sugar syrup in a thin steady stream until the meringue mixture is glossy, thick and the bowl is cool to touch. It should hold strong, stiff peaks when done.
Reserve 1/2 the meringue mixture and set aside.
With the remaining meringue mixture turn your mixer to high and gradually add small pieces of the butter and beat until creamy and thick.
Chill for 30 minutes before using.
To assemble, trim tops of cakes to level if needed and layer with half the buttercream. Add the second layer and repeat with remaining buttercream. Finishing with the final cake layer.
Using a small angled spatula or a large butter knife, spread your reserved meringue over the top and sides of the cake. Carefully brown the meringue using a brulee torch, if desired. Decorate with the berries of your choice.