I always feel a slight sense of relief when Christmas and New Year are over. It means I can do what I want to do, in my own time, no deadlines. Just relax. That is what I intend to do.
I promised you chocolate cake, so here it is. This has been my birthday chocolate cake for as long as I have been in New Zealand. Until this year, I haven’t made it for about three years as I have been elsewhere on the day. It’s dark, it’s moist, it’s rich – a real celebration of a cake. Oh and it's easy too.
Thank you for being with me this year and may the year ahead be what you would wish for.
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 cup hot water
250g butter, chopped into large chunks
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Whittaker’s 72% Cocoa Dark Ghana)
2 cups caster sugar
1½ cups self-raising flour
¼ cup cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
¾ cup cream
175g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Lightly grease a 25cm springform cake pan and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Place coffee and water in a saucepan and add the butter. Stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.
Add the caster sugar and stir until smooth and the sugar is incorporated. Remove the mix from the saucepan and transfer into a cake-mixing bowl.
Sift the flour and cocoa together and beat with an electric beater into the mixture until just incorporated. Beat in the eggs and then the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 150ºC for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand for 5 minutes before removing to a cake rack. I normally invert the cake as invariably the bottom is smoother and will therefore ice better.
When completely cold, place a tray or plate under the cake rack to collect the excess ganache. Use this to patch any bare bits on the side (or chill and eat later!).
The cake can be frozen by wrapping, once cold, in a layer of cling film and then a layer of tin foil. While frozen it is easier to trim off any rough bits or flatten the top.
Heat the cream until almost boiling. Stir in the chocolate until melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Pour over the cake allowing the ganache to dribble down the sides of the cake evenly. Cool and set.
Do not touch the topping as it will leave a fingermark.