Category: Chocolate

How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache

I made a really yummy chocolate and cherry cake last week and finally had a go at covering it with chocolate ganache. Up until now whenever I have made ganache it’s always been mixed in with buttercream for a cake filling or just as a really delicious layer of chocolatiness before a fresh cream filling but this time was different!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Chocolate ganache is basically dark chocolate mixed in with double cream and some butter. It’s rich and seriously best when licked straight from the mixing spoon…. I mean when added to a cake!
Anyway, here’s how I did it.

How to cover an 8″ cake in Chocolate ganache.


Buttercream Ingredients

  • 100g butter – at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
  • a drop of vanilla essence
  • 50g cocoa powder (add more if you want it really chocolatey)

 Chocolate Ganache ingredients

  • 75ml double cream
  • 125g Unsalted butter,
  • 250g plain chocolate  broken up into little pieces
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Start off with your baked cake. Mix up your buttercream by adding the sieved icing sugar and cocoa powder to the butter and whisking till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and whisk again. If it’s a little too stiff you can add a few drops of milk to loosen it up a bit.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Use a pallet knife to spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This will be your base layer so make it as flat as you can.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganacheI use an icing smoother to get the sides nice and even. (This is a great way to discuise a bumpy cake!) If you drag the smoother along the edge of the cake whist resting on a flat surface you’ll get a nice 90° edge.)Pop the cake in the fridge to firm up the buttercream. This will take around 20 minutes.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
While the cake is in the fridge make the ganache. You can melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water but I just heat up the double cream in a pan until just before it’s going to boil. Then take it off the heat and stir in the chopped up chocolate pieces until it’s all melted and combined. Add the butter till that’s melted and incorporated too and leave to cool a little.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once the buttercreamed cake is firm remove it from the fridge and place it on a wire rack which is over some greaseproof paper.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Pour the ganache over the cake so that it fills up the whole top and flows over the sides. I found this strangely good fun. I always did love messy play! Use a spatula to create a soft ripple look if you want. This is my little trick which means that the top layer doesn’t need to be perfectly flat!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the cake till the ganache stops dripping. I added the cherries at this stage so they would sit firmly on the cake as it had to travel in the car later that day.
 How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the ganache to set. Weather dependant this can take between 30 – 60 minutes. It will firm up quite a bit, but will remain soft so don’t be tepmted to stick a finger on it to see if it’s done. You’ll ruin the look!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once set carefully transfere it onto your cake plate.
I was pretty happy with how this turned out. It’s really fun.  I made double the amount of ganache – just in case I had to start again! But you can scoop up the overspilled ganache and keep it in an airtight container for a week in the fridge if you need to. When you are ready to use it again just warm it through slowly in a pan but make sure it doesn’t boil or burn.  I pretty much spooned my leftovers – with some small people’s help, straight into my mouth. I couldn’t leave it alone!


Cake pops for The Poopah

It was my dad’s birthday last month. I’m not quite sure now where the nick name originated from but I call my dad ‘The Poopah’ and mum is ‘The Moomah’!

Anyway, my dad has always worn glasses and has always had a moustache (except for a small interlude where his face was bare for a couple of months and he had a full beard for a couple of months – both of which The Moomah hated and he went back to being moustacheo man!) So it’s quite easy to get his character with just a few cake decorating touches.

My dad’s birthday is always celebrated with a family gathering in his garden- usually a BBQ, but what with the summer we’ve been having it was an indoor event this year!  My aunt was visiting from Israel and my 93 year old grandma came too, so I offered to make a cake. Mum always does the decorated cakes for family so I  made some cake pops instead.

How to make the cake pops

1. I keep larger off cuts from cakes I’ve made and had to chop up (or level the top) and freeze them just for making cake pops with. I hate to waste food. ESPECIALLY cake!

2. Pop the cake in a food processor and whizz it till it’s crumbs. I used the off cuts from a one bowl chocolate cake.

3. Add buttercream and whizz again. I don’t measure anymore I just add the buttercream until it sticks together. (To make the buttercream use  a 1:2 ratio  i.e 50g butter, 100g icing sugar, and a drop of vanilla essence all blended together until nice and fluffy)

4. Roll into balls and pop into the freezer for 5 minutes to harden.

5.Mix up some royal icing and colour it using colouring pastes. Add just a tiny bit at a time. Use a toothpick for the ultimate in colour control.

6.Place the royal icing in an icing bag. I printed out a load of pictures of glasses and moustache onto a piece of A4 paper and placed the sheet inside a new, clear, plastic pocket – the kind you would use in a ring binder. Wipe it with Trex so that it isn’t too sticky then ice the shapes over the top of the print out.

7.Leave them to harden up. I would usually leave them over night but you can leave them for a few hours. Test a corner to see if they are going to be strong enough to handle. Remove them with a thin pallet knife VERY CAREFULLY. I broke so many of these that most of the cake pops had smarties all over them (as Beau was helping me!)

8.Push the sticks into the cake pops and dip into the melted candy melts. I thought I had some pink melts when I started making these but when I pulled the lock and lock box out of the cupboard it would appear that it was just pink packaging! It turned out that they were all chocolate. Oh well never mind! I melted some white chocolate to put on the top of each cake pop instead. While they were still wet I added the glasses and moustache decorations onto the top of the pops so when you looked in the box you could see the Poopahs looking out!

So, what do you think? Do they look like my dad then?

There was a bit of a Poopah theme running throughout the afternoon. None of us kids or mum discussed what we were doing/ baking with each other for the lunch. My mum made a cake of his face complete with glasses and tash and mmmm nice chocolate hair and a nose made out of marzipan. Always our favorite bit! When we were kids we used to fight over who got the most marzipan.

Even my 2 1/2 year old niece Sara got in on the action. How cute is the card she made?

Have you made any personalised cake pops recently? I’d love to know how you got on!


The Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake

One bowl chocolate cake

This is a cake I made to take around to my mother-in-law’s for her birthday back in June. We were all invited for a family afternoon tea at her house. She always makes the most amazing Cherry Amours (I must get the recipe from her some time!) and she had also made scones too, so taking my chocolate cake on top of all that sugar may have been a step too far!

I’m Tim’s biggest nightmare!

I’m not very good at time management. In fact I’m hopeless. I’m late for everything and as Tim always says I have “add ons”, meaning that when we plan to do anything I always want to add on something. When I decided to make this cake I only had an hour and half to bake/decorate the cake, shower & dress and get Darcey ready to go to her friends party, wrap the present and get her to write the card! One serious ‘add on’! I originally wanted to make a cheesecake but Tim had to stop me. I really couldn’t do that in the time and chill it!

Chocolate cake in a hurry.

Needless to say this is the perfect recipe to bash out a quick cake when you’re in a hurry. As the title suggests, all the ingredients are put in the bowl at the same time, mixed up, popped in a tin (or for real speed a silicon pan- no lining or oiling necessary!) and throw it in the oven. Twenty five minutes later it’s done!

One Bowl Chocolate cake Ingredients

125g butter – at room temperature

125g caster sugar

125g self raising flour

2 eggs – at room temperature

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 teasp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

1 tea sp vanilla extract

Raspberries to decorate


250g butter – at room temperature

450g icing sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

2 tbsp cocoa powder. (I like my buttercream to be very chocolatey, so if you want a more subtle taste – or your cake is for kids, use just 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, then taste test the buttercream and add more as desired.

How to make the one bowl chocolate cake

Heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line and oil two 8″ sandwich tins.

Place all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. Sieve all the dry ingredients into the bowl then mix until well blended. Avoid over mixing.

Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. This is a really light cake so you will see that it’s done by the edges shrinking away from the sides of the tin or a finger print bounces back instantly when touched.

While the cake is baking make the buttercream. Start by sieving the sugar and cocoa powder together. Add the butter and vanilla essence and mix well. If the mixture is too stiff add one small splash of milk at a time and keep mixing until it is just right.

Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin and placing it on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Add the buttercream to the centre of the cake then using a large pallet knife cover the outside top and sides. Use an upwards motion to cover it easily. Finish off with fresh raspberries.

This cake went down pretty well but then again so did Nanny Ali’s scones and cherry amours!


p.s. I am aware that there have been a lot of chocolate recipes on here lately! Anyone would think that I like chocolate!!!!!!

Black Forrest Gateau recipe… Tim’s Ultimate cake!

Black Forrest Gateau cake recipeIt was Tim’s birthday last Monday and his favourite cake is a Black Forrest Gateau. I have made this for him a few times but never properly. Really I just made a chocolate cake with cherries and cream. He was not satisfied! So I decided this year I was going to do it properly, but as usual I decided this the day before and had to get some ingredients at the last minute, but not your normal ingredients, no, no I had to find Kirsch. Now I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in my neck of the woods there’s plenty of off licences and plenty of wine and beer to buy, but Kirsch was not so easy to find!

Black Forrest Gateau cake recipe

The hunt was on!

Tim’s birthday just so happened to co-inside with my car having a rather lengthy stay in the garage. So my quest to find kirsch, cherry brandy and make the cake, all within the school day was a bit of a challenge. I tried all the shops within walking distance and got hold of the brandy no problem but the Kirsch was going to have to be a bike ride.

Now might be a good time to mention that I live in between two hills. The kind that you don’t notice when you’re pootling around in your car, but that make you seriously out of breath when you’re peddling your little legs off! So, when I leaned inside my local off licence – still on my bike- helmet on and asked for the Kirsch he said that the store across town would probably have some. So off I went with my rucksack on my back full of bubble wrap and padded envelopes to protect it from bumps and mefrom any accident. Sucess! They had. So I zoomed off home just in time to collect the girls from school.

I baked the sponges first thing in the morning after school drop off then set off on my quest. When the girls got home that afternoon we put the cake together. At first when I couldn’t find the kirsch I was going to do without it, I mean wouldn’t the cherry brandy make a good enough substitute? In a word. No. The Kirsch (as you will see in the recipe below) is used with the jam filling and has a much more alcoholly taste than the sweetness of the brandy which is soaked into the sponges.

The finished cake was popped into the fridge and when Tim got home from work we had dinner together with the cake planned as a big surprise. When he went to get milk out of the fridge to make tea he was met with a “”Noooooooooo!”” buy the three main ladies in his life! Poor thing jumped out of his skin.

Anyway, he loved the cake as I did and with all that alcohol surprisingly so did Beau!

So here’s what I made…

Black Forrest Gateau recipe

Cake Ingredients

225g butter, at room temperature

225g caster sugar

160g  self-raising flour

65g cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

4 medium eggs

Decoration and fillings

340g jar of morello cherry jam (any cherry jam will work)

1 tin cherries- drained

2–3 tbsp Kirsch (Yep all that effort for 2-3 tablespoons! But it was worth it)

75 ml oz cherry brandy (morello cherry brandy is best but beggars can’t be choosers!))

600ml  double cream

30g dark chocolate, grated

fresh cherries, to decorate the top

To make Black Forrest Gateau

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°CGas 5. Grease 3 x 8 inch round tins and line the base with baking paper. You can use two tins and cut the cake in half through the middle.
  2. Blend the butter and sugar together
  3. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and eggs and blend until smooth
  4. Divide the mix into the cake tins and smooth it flat.
  5. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the cakes start to come away from the sides.
  6. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure you remove the baking paper so the cake doesn’t ‘sweat’

To make Black Forrest Gateau filling

  • Place the jam in a saucepan with the Kirsch until it melts. Add in the Cherries and simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
  • Whisk the cream until is forms soft peaks and set it to one side. I over whisked my cream. It doesn’t effect the taste but it spoils the look a bit.
  • Use a silicon pastry brush to soak the cakes with cherry brandy.
  • To assemble –  place one cake on a plate then spread it with the jam. Add cream to another cake. Sprinkle with grated chocolate then place them together.
  • Repeat with the next two cakes ending with a cream topping on the top of the cake.
  • I piped some cream onto the top and placed a fresh cherries all around the outside edge, but anything goes here! Sprinkle with the last of the chocolate and you’re ready to serve!
  • We placed our cake in the fridge for a few hours and it tasted great.
  • Although this cake will taste best on the day you make it we kept this one in the fridge and tried to pace ourselves and ate it for the next 4 days. Black Forrest Gateau cake recipe

Well, when I say we ate it, I actually mean me. Benefits of working from home!


Bex’s Gourmet Brownies.

Gourmet Brownie

I have just had the busiest week ever, shooting five days in a row. (I’ve never done that before!). Add in a 2 hour journey each way, each day and making cakes in the evenings, there was little time for sleep, let alone blogging. I have really missed writing here! So today you’ll get two for the price of one!

Gourmet brownies

Bex (aka Rebecca Smith, deputy food Editor on Delicious magazine and the foodie behind the truefoodie blog) and I used to sit together when we worked at Woman and Home magazine. She has such an amazing knowledge of food it’s fascinating! She can throw a recipe together out of thin air. I so wish I had the knowledge to do that.

One of my favourite of her recipes are these brownies. They’re not just any brownies. They’re Gourmet Brownies! And once you’ve tasted them you’ll understand why. They’re so moist you can’t even cut them into squares without having to clean the knife in between cuts as it gets so glooped up with chocolate heaven.

Top tips

I have made these loads of times. My friend Karen recently invited us round for a gathering and at the end of her email she said “and if you want to bring your brownies that would be great!” But recently I have had a few flops. So by learning from my mistakes here are my top tips on how to make the best brownies:-

  • Make them the night before you want to eat them. They take ages to cool down. I mean hours!
  • Never cut them into squares when they are still hot. Apart from the fact that it’s practically impossible it makes it more difficult, each cut edge will go really crunchy and dry and they’ll be hard rather than moist.
  • When checking to see if brownies are baked to perfection make sure that an inserted skewer comes out clean. Don’t do what I did and take them out of the oven without even checking, then, running late for a family house warming and thinking I’d just cut them up when I got there I popped them in the boot of the car in a cardboard box- still hot in the tin. They were still too hot to cut up when we arrived, so I put them outside in the freezing cold garden to speed up the cooling process while we ate lunch. When I finally got to remove the brownies from the tin and made the first cut they were still all goo inside! No where near baked! Nightmare.
  • Once you have removed the tin from the oven, leave it to cool on a wire rack for around 20 minutes then remove them from the tin (still in the paper) and leave to cool completely on the rack. If you leave them to cool completely in the tin they can dry out too much.

Brownie ingredients

  • 275 g dark chocolate (60% dark chocolate is best)
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs- beaten
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ tea-spoon vanilla extract
  • 150g milk or white chocolate (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

How to make gourmet brownies

Heat your oven to 180 C, 160 c fan, gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper.

Measure out all the ingredients. This is something I am doing more and more, rather than measuring as I go. It definitely reduces mistakes!

In a large saucepan melt the chocolate and then add the butter and blend them together. Don’t turn your back on the chocolate for a second. It burns really quickly!

Add in the sugar and stir till completely blended

Add the beaten eggs and vanilla essence

Slowly fold in the flour and stir well

You can add any chocolate to these brownies. I tend to grab what I’ve got in my store cupboard and chop it up with a big knife, but chocolate chips work just as well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for 35-40 minutes then remove to cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack. After that remove the brownies( in the paper)from the tin and leave to cool on the rack until completely cool.

Once cold, slice into squares and get ready to eat!

Pop them in a tin ready to take to your sister in-law’s in plenty of time – only this time completely baked!


The Ultimate Chocolate Cook Book – Couture Chocolate

The book!As, promised in my post from Easter, I wanted to share with you this yummy book.

I’ve had lots and lots of cook books sent to me to review here on Cakes, Bakes and Cookies, but none of them have the amazing chocolate content of Couture Chocolate, by William Curley, Jacqui Small publishers.

This book has EVERYTHING! It’s totally jam packed full of helpful advice on how to handle chocolate including how to temper chocolate properly and tons and tons of recipes.

William Curly may not be a household name yet, but I am sure he soon will be. He started his career at the Gleneagles Hotel and has worked under some of the biggest chef names around including Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire, Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Marco Pierre White at The Restaurant in Knightsbridge and Marc Meneau at L’Espérance in France. He also worked as Chef Patissier at the London Savoy.  He’s won a ton of awards and in 2004 teamed up with his wife, who also just so happens to be a Patissier, to open their shop in Richmond Upon Thames as well as one in Belgravia. They sell box after box of their delicious chocolates and truffles as well as run master classes and courses for kids and adults. I think I may need to go on one of these!

So what’s in the book?

The chapters are…

  • An approach to Chocolate– A word or two by the main man himself.
  • Chocolate essentials– Loads of background info on the ‘Origins of Cocoa’, how it’s transformed from ‘Bean to bar’ and the all essential how to temper.
  • Truffles – great tips on how to make a truffle from piping them to rolling, with nine delicious recipes including how to make ganache, which is essentially what truffles are!  I’ve made loads of truffles in the past – usually as gifts at Christmas time, but these looks so much more high end. (Mental note to self – make the Yamazaki single malt whisky and Dacquoise truffle this year!)
  • Couture chocolates– These are something else! I mean where else will you find how to make layered chocolates, jelly layered chocolates, how to emboss, decorate and add flavour to chocolates? I mean I haven’t heard of some of the ingredients but they still sound delicious! How is that so?
    Couture Chocolate book review
    Piedmont Hazelnut , Szechuan Pepper, Chauo, Pistachio Toscano, Juniper berry & blackcurrant, Raspberry Toscano and passion fruit & name but a few!
  • Bars & Bites – This is where the diet HAS to go out of the window. Florentines, Cerises au Kirsch (Tim’s favorites) Walnut brittle and the most delicious bars of chocolate I’ve ever seen. I have an unhealthy love of salt so the Rosemary and Sea salt bars are the one for me, but I can’t resist these fruit and nut bars. If there’s fruit on them does that count as healthy?

Couture Chocolate book review

  • Bouchées– The word ‘Bouchées’ means ‘little mouthful’ in French and normally refers to a vol-au-vent type pastry, but here they are mouth watering delicacies including Millionaires shortbread, sea salt caramel mou, chocolate meringue, chocolate or coffee macaroons, the list goes on and on!
Couture Chocolate book review
These look way too good to eat! Just look at the chocolate on these Millionaire's Shortbread. It's so shiny!

  • Cakes & Biscuits– How about chocolate Madelines to start, Chestnut and sesame brownies for main and a chocolate cake made with dark chocolate not cocoa powder to finish?
  • Patisserie– This is where the artistry comes in. Knowing how to get chocolate to do what you want in order to create a decoration, whether that’s in hoops, curls, waves, balls or twists. There’s a fine artistry to the assembly of these deserts. William takes the classics and gives them a modern spin. You’ll find chocolate tarts, a classic Mille Feulle, chocolate and apricot roulade and Chocolate tiramisu in a casket (as seen on the cover of the book)

    Couture Chocolate book review
    He makes it look so easy.
  • Ice cream, sauces and drinks– If I say chocolate & raspberry sorbet, Almond milk ice cream lollies, chocolate & praline spread and black Forrest milkshake, you’ll get a small hint of what’s in store in this chapter. Something to tickle every taste bud!

There’s also a glossary of ingredients and equipment at the end of the book. I love this as it’s always fascinating to see what other people use as their tools of their trade. William also gives his advice on what to look out for when buying equipment and how to care for it,  eg you should clean chocolate moulds with cotton wool to ensure that you have a shiny surface on your chocolate.

On my ‘To do list’

Oh my goodness, there’s too much to choose from. I can’t stop flicking through this book and although I would normally switch off the moment a thermometer is mentioned, these recipes look too amazing not to try. They have the most incredible ingredients and combinations. Just one look at the Blackcurrant tea cakes ( you know the kind of marshmallow tea cakes you get in M&S!) and I’m hooked. I’ll also be giving the Matcha (green tea) & chocolate shortbread and a whole selection of couture chocolates a go.

This book is a definite keeper. The knowledge and tips and advice make it worth it alone but with all the delicious recipes. I think it’s a winner all round.



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