This is the second cake I made on my birthday. It's hard to describe the cake or say anything else about it - it was so good. And it wasn't just good, it was the best chocolate cake I'd ever eaten. Really, all you could do was just sigh when you ate it, it's chcolate heaven. It has everything a chocolate cake should have, and even more. It was perfect. And I have to tell you the story of this cake, it's from a GoodFood magazine, which was the 20th birthday special number. They had arranged a competition in baking cakes for the 20th birthday, and this cake was on the final tree. I actually don't know which cake was the winner, but this really could have been the one.
I think the salty-sweet combination was wonderful (it actually wasn't that evident, you had to taste carefully and then you could notice that ahaa, this cake has a tiny salty flavour). I really loved the moistness of this cake, and at first I was wondering that would it bee too sweet with the caramel filling, but actually it wasn't too sweet at all. Though you can't eat a very big slice, because the cake is so rich and heavy. But my point is you reallly should try this cake. Because it's too good to be true.
For the cake base:
115g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
225g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
150 ml milk
225g dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
150 ml crème fraîche
225g plain white wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sea-salt crystals
For the caramel filling:
This makes a bit too much, but you can use the leftovers for something else.
450g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
115g salted butter
125 ml double cream
2 tbsp crème fraîche
For the chocolate ganache:
225g plain chocolate (70-80% cocoa)
250 ml double cream
dessertspoon sea salt crystals
For the decoration:
chocolate truffles, about ten pieces (150g)
1. First, make the caramel. Pour 100 ml water into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and golden syrup, gently cook until melted, then turn up the heat a bit and cook until the caramel is dark golden brown colour. Swirl the pan occasionally to prevent sticking but do not stir. It can take 15 minutes to get the right colour, so be patient.
2. Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the butter in small pieces, double cream and crème fraîche - it will bubble up quite high. Whisk until smooth, then leave to cool until slightly set.
You can make this up to 3 days in advance and chill in the fridge - just gently reheat until soft enough to spread before assembling the cake.
3. Now make the cake. Heat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
4. Melt the chocolate, butter and mik in a kettle over a low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Move into a big bowl. Cool slightly.
5. Beat the egg yolks and crème fraîche together, then mix this into the chocolate mixture followed by the flour and baking powder.
6. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the egg whites into the cake mix, then gently fold in the rest along with the sea salt.
7. Pour into a prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until firm to touch and when a wooden stick comes out from the cake clean. Leave to cool for 20 minutes or longer, then remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.
8. For the ganache, heat the chocolate and the cream together over a low heat until the chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl to cool. I noticed that the ganache I made become quite thin, and maybe it was because the cream I used wasn't that heavy (it was about 20% fat) so it was quite thin and when I decorated the cake it really spread a lot so I didn't need the whole ganache. Next time when I make this cake I think I'll try turkish yogurt instead of the cream, because the ganache should be thicker and the turkish yogurt is excellent for that.
9. To assemble, slice the cooled cake in half horizontally. Sandwich together with some of your caramel, you may not need it all. It happened to me that I put too much of the caramel and it spread on the sides of the plate I had the cake on, so I really suggest to be careful with amount of the caramel, if you wan't to succeed perfectly.
10. Then, spread the ganache over the top of the cake (and not too much, if it's too fluid it will spread a lot) and decorate with the truffles ( I used Belgian Neuhaus truffles) and sprinkle over some sea salt crystals, if you like.