A Cook's Plot

Baking & Bread

Extra-special chocolate cake

A decadent cake that's perfect for special occasions

In the summer, I started running a B&B from my home and it’s been more successful than I could ever have imagined - I’ve been more or less fully booked from the middle of August. Some really interesting guests have stayed here, and the four people leaving today have been here for a fortnight: a family of four with two grown-up daughters, over from Trinidad to visit relatives at Christmas.

One of the daughters celebrated her 21st birthday while she was here and I got a last-minute request to make a birthday cake for her. Slightly panic stricken, as cake decorating is really not my forte, I decided to make my lovely, reliable chocolate cake recipe and turn it into something suitably celebratory with a rich ganache icing.

I was pleased with the way it turned out, and the chocolate mints on the top saved me from testing my decorating skills too much! The birthday girl loved the cake too - phew.

This is definitely now going to be my go-to celebration cake. The only thing to remember is that the icing needs to be made a few hours ahead otherwise it’s too runny and will just flow too quickly over - and off - the cake (I know this, because I tried to use it too soon and had to quickly stop pouring and come back to it later!)

** To find out more about my B&B: https://acooksplot.com/the-garden-suite


Serves 8

  • 200g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 200g butter at room temperature, chopped
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 90g self-raising flour
  • 90g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp seedless raspberry (or damson) jam
  • For the icing:
  • 150g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 200ml double cream
  • 6 chocolate mints (I used Elizabeth Shaw, because I like the little dimples on top!)


Start by making the icing as it needs to be done at least 4 hours ahead. Melt 150g chocolate with the double cream in a bowl set over a small saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring regularly. Set aside until it has cooled and thickened but is still pourable.

To make the cake, melt 200g chocolate with the butter, the coffee and 125ml warm water in a bowl set over a small saucepan of gently simmering water. Meanwhile, line the base of three 20cm Victoria sandwich tins with a circle of baking parchment, then grease the sides of each tin.

Stir together the sugar, bicarb, flours and cocoa powder, breaking up any lumpy bits of sugar. Using an electric hand whisk, beat the eggs with the milk and yogurt. Pour the melted chocolate into the flour mix, then add the beaten eggs and stir it all together gently with a metal spoon, using a figure of eight movement.

Pour into the three tins and bake at 140C (fan oven) for about 35 minutes (the tops should be springy and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake should come out clean).

Release the sides of each cake with a table knife then turn out onto a cooling rack and peel off the lining paper. Leave to cool.

To assemble the cake, spread a thin layer of jam on two of the cakes and sandwich all three together. Spoon or pour the icing into the centre of the top cake and let it run down the sides. Use a palette knife to smooth over the top of the cake and to add more icing to the sides so that they are completely covered.

Tie a ribbon round the cake and add the mints, securing the ends of the ribbon and keeping the mints in place with blobs of icing.

A Cook's Plot Tip

When you're melting the chocolate, make sure the water in the pan isn't touching the base of the bowl otherwise the chocolate may overheat and become un-usuable.

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