Chocstravagant!

A couple of weeks ago one of my favourite colleagues had a special birthday, so for a special birthday we needed a special cake.

I had only attempted one two tier cake before and had never made the chocolate collar you’ll see below. Sure this cake was a bit more effort than your average victoria sponge, but if you’ve got a few hours and a bit of patience and determination this is very much possible.

I present to you a full step-by-step recipe for a two tiered chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel buttercream, decorated with a dark chocolate collar and chocolate dipped berries. I just wanted to say that out loud. Look away if you don’t like chocolate. This won’t please you.

Happy birthday Jane!

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You will need

For the cake:

380g/13.5 oz caster sugar

380g/13.5 oz unsalted butter or margarine (I use stork)

325g/11.5 oz self raising flour

6 eggs

55g/2 oz cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the salted caramel buttercream:

400g/14 oz icing sugar

250g/9 oz butter

80g/3 oz soft brown sugar

100ml/3.5 fl oz double cream

2 tbsp golden syrup

2 tsp salt

For the chocolate fudge icing:

225g/8 oz unsalted butter

200g/7 oz plain chocolate

100g/3.5 oz milk chocolate

2 tbsp golden syrup

200ml/6.5 fl oz double cream

For the decorations:

1 packet strawberries (sorry I didn’t look at weight)

2 packets of raspberries (about 500g)

200g/7 oz plain chocolate

200g/7 oz milk chocolate

100g/3.5 oz white chocolate

(for the chocolate amounts are the best approximates I can make, I bought a LOT of chocolate. I strongly recommend Sainbury’s Belgian cooking chocolate if you are in the UK, definitely do not buy that scot block stuff)

Other:

Cake tin bottom tier – 1 x 7 inch (3.5 inches deep)

Cake tin top tier – 2 x 5 inch (1.5 inches deep)

Cake boards – 1 x 8 inch, 1 x 5 inch

Sticks/straws for support. I used cake pop sticks, but wooden dowling or special cake making supports would be fine. Make sure they are at least 4 inches so you can cut them to size.

Palette knife

Sugar thermometer (not 100% essential but I recommend tempering the chocolate)

Cellophane

Piping bags

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Step one

Grease and line the tins.

Note how I created a bit of a collar on the larger tin from greaseproof. This is to help stop the sides of the cake catching while the inside bakes as it’s essentially double the thickness.

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Step two

Whisk together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease, until smooth.

I used a block of stork for this, but I prefer the softer version you can get in a tub, you don’t have to wait for it to come to room temperature first that way. Margarine works just fine for cakes, I think it makes them fluffier.

You might want to use a tea towel over the bowl to avoid everything getting covered in sugar and butter.

Step three

Add all the eggs and whisk until combined.

Step four

In go the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.

Stir gently to start mixing the dry ingredients in first before turning the whisk on, you don’t want to choke on flour, that’s not a good way to go. It also means you will never get to eat this cake.

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Step five

Divide into the tins.

Bake in the oven on 180C/350F/gas mark 4. This is where it’s a little tricky as the little cakes need a lot less time but you don’t want to open the oven much or your big cake will sink.

I say give the big cake about 30 minutes on its own, and then opening the door as little as possible add the smaller ones for the next 20 minutes. You will then need to test the cakes by sticking a sharp knife, or a cake tester if you have one. If this comes out clean (or with the odd crumb) you’re all good. If not give them another 5-10 minutes.

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Step six

While the cakes are in the oven make the icing as both, but particularly the chocolate, need time to cool.

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Add the butter (real butter this time), chocolate and golden syrup. Melt until smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in the cream quickly. Take the bowl off the pan and place somewhere cool and dry.

I don’t really suggest the fridge because you might forget it (like I did) and then you have to wait for it to warm up enough to spread. But that being said, the fridge is a viable option, just keep an eye on it.

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Step seven

For the salted caramel buttercream melt together 100g of the butter, the brown sugar, golden syrup and salt. Do this slowly and then bring the heat up to a simmer.

Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir regularly so that it doesn’t catch and burn. Leave to cool down for about half an hour or so.

Step eight

Stir in the 100ml cream and leave to cool further.

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Step nine

Whisk the icing sugar and 150g of butter together with the salt. Definitely cover the bowl with the tea towel this time. I find if my butter is not quite soft enough it helps to rub it in a bit with clean hands first. There is NOwhere icing sugar won’t go when you use an electric whisk.

Step ten

Add the caramel and whisk again until smooth. Don’t worry if the caramel is still a little warm, just leave your buttercream to cool in the fridge for a bit. But again, don’t forget about it or it won’t be spreadable.

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Step eleven

When your cakes have completely cooled prepare them for icing. You need to lop the top off the large one until it’s as flat as possible on top. So much of this cake is covered in decoration that you can get away with a little bit of wonky though so don’t panic if it’s not prefect. Having said that the flatter the better so the top tier sits straight. NO PRESSURE.

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Step twelve

Cut the cake in the middle. Try to do this evenly by scoring it the whole way round first. Just keep going round in circles, getting further in each time until you’re all the way through.

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Step thirteen

Level out the tops of the small cakes. I would be lying if I said I didn’t spread some icing on the offcuts and eat them.

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Step fourteen

Using a palette knife ice the cakes.

First place a bit of buttercream on the cake base to stick the cake to it. Start with the caramel buttercream and ice the middle and the top. Don’t worry if bits splurge out the sides.

Smooth these out around the sides with the palette knife, gradually adding buttercream here and there to create the sharpest sides you can. Some parts will have a thicker coating than others, this layer is made to contain all the crumbs (hence the name crumb layer) and to even out the shape a bit. It’s not going to be pretty.

Place in the fridge for about an hour before starting the chocolate.

Ice the chocolate on in the same way, neatening as you go. For the most part it will be covered up, so it really doesn’t need to be too smooth.

Step fifteen

Cover the small cake in the same way.

Place both in the fridge while you prepare the decorations.

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Step sixteen

Using the tins as a guide cut a strip of the cellophane for both the top and bottom layer. You want these to be quite close to the size of the chocolate collar, so tall enough that you will have about 5cm/two inches taller than the cake, and wide enough to match the circumference. You can quickly check this against the cake to ensure it will fit.

Don’t forget to cut one for the top tier and one for the bottom, bearing in mind your top tier cake is twice as tall as the tin.

Step seventeen

Temper 200g dark chocolate. Don’t look at me like that…you are really going to want to do this so you have shiny chocolate on the collar.

First melt 125g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Let it get to 55C/131F before removing from the heat.

Chop the remaining chocolate and stir into the melted mix to aid the cool down process. Stir continually until it cools to 28C/82F. I found a good way to speed this up a bit. Put cold water in a large saucepan and the bowl on top. You’re welcome.

Place the bowl back on the heat and bring it to 31C/88F. Your chocolate is tempered.

Be warned – if you’re doing a different type of chocolate the temperatures are different:

Milk – 45C/113F original melt, 27C/81F cool down, 29C/84F

White – 45C/113F original melt, 26C/79F cool down, 28C/82F

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Step eighteen

Place chocolate in a piping bag and using circular motions cover the cellophane with swirls. Go over the bottom edge onto the work surface but ensure the top stays on the cellophane so it’s ‘whirly’.

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Step nineteen

When it has started to dry pull the cellophane away so the bottom is clear of the extra overlap bits.

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Step twenty

Melt (preferably temper) the milk chocolate. Dip the strawberries in half way and leave to set on some more cellophane.

Melt the white chocolate (no real need to temper this) and place in a piping bag. swing the bag back and forth to drizzle the white chocolate over the top.

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Step twenty one

Drizzle the raspberries with white and milk chocolate. You can dip them if you want to, but, really? I know this is taking a while, but do you have that kind of time??

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Step twenty two

Get the cakes out of the fridge to assemble.

Cut the sticks to size and push through the bottom layer where the top tier will sit.

Place it on top.

I then secured this a bit further with the remaining dark chocolate I had. It will be covered up so no big deal if it’s messy.

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Step twenty three

When the collars become touch dry, (meaning if you gently touch the surface you shouldn’t get chocolate on your finger, but what’s underneath is still not set) wrap them around the cake.

LEAVE THE CELLOPHANE ON. Sorry for shouting. But please. Walk away and don’t touch it for a while. Maybe leave a window open if it’s a cool day to help the process along.

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Step twenty four

When you’re feeling brave slowly peel off the cellophane to reveal your beautiful shiny chocolate collar. I was pretty excited at this point I must confess.

Step twenty five

Fill with the fruit and make someone’s occasion that bit happier.

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4 comments

  1. Sasha says:

    Hi this cake looks fabulous I’m thinking if making this for my cousins 40th birthday party, how many people did it feed?

    I might do a black forest version though as it’s her favourite.

    Is it worth practising the chocolate work first as don’t want to mess it up. I do bake quite often but nothing with chocolate work.
    Thanks Sasha

    • Katie says:

      Hi Sasha,

      Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a little while and just spotted this. The cake would feed at least 20 I would say. I haven’t done heaps of chocolate work either, but I would say for anyone wanting to do something like this for an occasion it’s worth having a go at tempering with a small batch of chocolate. The main thing is to open the windows – it’s so much easier in a cold environment.

      Hope your cousin liked her cake!
      Katie

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