BLACK FOREST LAYER CAKE.
This cake was made for my Aunties 60th birthday. I asked her what she wanted and she wasn’t altogether sure. The only thing she did mention was that she used to love buying a black forest gateau out of the freezer section in a supermarket. Making a fresh version of that seemed like the perfect option.
I didn’t want to make it exactly like the frozen version is because it was for a special birthday so a special cake was definitely deserved! I found the recipe for this cake on the internet but got a little nervous about making it - it was a recipe used in the final of Australia’s Masterchef, eek!
There are a lot of steps to making this cake but if made over a couple of days it doesn’t seem too bad. One of the steps involved making a cherry compote but I couldn’t find fresh cherries in any supermarket as they are out of season. To make life easier, I decided to just use a good quality cherry jam. It saved some time and still tasted good.
The cake itself consists of four layers. The first three layers are chocolate sponge drizzled with cherry syrup, praline mousse, mascarpone cream and cherry jam. The top sponge layer is covered with a chocolate ganache and decorated with chocolate dipped cherries. If you aren’t a fan of cherries then you could do exactly the same but use another fruit. Strawberries or raspberries would be amazing.
Making the praline mousse was a lot of fun. I’m a massive fan of Nutella so I was in my element. The mascarpone cream is really easy to make and tastes so, SO good. The cake does require a fair few ingredients, but like I say, on this occasion it was for a special birthday so you have to push the boat out! Plus, the end taste is totally worth it. Seriously.
FOR THE CAKE: 400g unsalted butter, 200g dark chocolate, 4 large eggs, 200g caster sugar, 200g plain flour.
FOR THE CHERRY SYRUP: 90g caster sugar, cherry juice.
PRALINE MOUSSE: 120g caster sugar, 80g hazelnuts, 300g chopped dark chocolate, 3 egg yolks, 300ml extra thick cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract.
MASCARPONE CREAM: 500g mascarpone, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbs icing sugar.
CHERRY COMPOTE: 1 pot of good quality cherry jam or conserve.
CHOCOLATE GANACHE: 150ml double cream, 200g chopped dark chocolate.
DECORATION: As many cherries as you like (fresh, frozen, tinned or jarred), small bar of milk chocolate, small bar of white chocolate.
First things first.
Make the cake.
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F), grease and line 2 x 20cm springform tins (or you can bake one cake after another if you only have one tin).
Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Whisk eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer until thick and pale (about 3-5 minutes), fold through chocolate mixture then fold in flour until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake until just firm to touch (25-30 minutes). Cool completely in pans, then put in tins until needed later. This will ensure that the cakes are kept fresh.
Make the praline mousse.
Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and lightly toast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread on a tea towel or piece of kitchen roll. Rub the hazelnuts so the skins flake off. Pick off any remaining skin.Set aside on a plate or in a bowl.
Line a baking tray.
In a dry heavy-based saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring, until melted.
Once melted, cook without stirring, swirling pan, until lightly golden.
Add hazelnuts, stirring until well coated.
Immediately pour mixture onto the lined baking tray and cool completely, in freezer until hard.
Break praline into pieces, place into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl.
Heat 250ml of the cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
Stir through half of the hot cream into the egg yolks.
Return the mixture to the saucepan over low heat and stir until thickened.
Strain into a clean bowl.
Stir the melted chocolate into the hot custard.
Add the vanilla and allow to cool.
Whisk the remaining cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold into the chocolate mixture with the praline, until just combined. Set aside in the fridge.
Make the mascarpone cream.
Beat the mascarpone, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until smooth and slightly thicker in volume. Set aside in the fridge.
Make the cherry syrup.
Heat 170ml water and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and stir in a small amount of cherry juice.
Make the chocolate ganache.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside.
Bring the cream to just below boiling point in a small saucepan.
Remove from the heat, then add the melted chocolate and stir until smooth.
Place in the fridge and allow to cool until thick but still pouring consistency.
Prepare the decoration.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Dip half of your cherries into the chocolate and place on a baking tray.
Do the same with the milk chocolate and the remaining half of the cherries.
Place in the fridge so the chocolate can set.
Assemble the cake & decorate.
Remove the chocolate sponges from the tins. Slice each cake through the middle horizontally to produce four thinner cake layers.
Remove your fillings from the fridge. Place the first cake layer onto your plate or stand.
Brush some cherry syrup over the sponge.
Spread a layer of praline mousse on top of the soaked sponge then some mascarpone cream then some cherry jam.
Ensure that you spread a generous amount over the sponge and spread right to the edge so that you can see the fillings when looking at the finished cake.
Place the next cake layer on top and lightly push down. Repeat the above step until all your layers are complete.
Spread the chocolate ganache over the top cake layer and decorate with your chocolate dipped cherries. Grate some white chocolate over the finished cake.
BLACK FOREST LAYER CAKE, DONE. TIME FOR A BEVVY.