Friday, December 03, 2021


December is here, and the festive season is in full swing. And regardless of how you celebrate, a nice cake is always a good thing to have.
In all fairness, flavourful cakes are always welcome, particularly after a hearty meal, but during the holidays, their significance is even greater. Especially if gatherings have been few and far between; every experience is to be cherished even more.
Soft and fudgy eggless cake layers, airy chocolate peanut butter mousse filling, and a crown of even more chocolate and cream, for good measure. A true festive cake, simple to make, sturdy enough to travel, and lavish enough to feed a crowd of revellers. Serve it with a hot cup of coffee or a small glass of brandy, and enjoy.

For the cake layers
250 grams plain flour
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
200 grams light brown sugar
100 grams apricot jam, at room temperature
45 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
500 millilitres whole milk
For the chocolate peanut butter mousse
250 millilitres double cream
150 grams smooth peanut butter
200 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and cooled
100 grams icing sugar, sifted
50 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the decoration
200 millilitres double cream, divided
100 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

To make the chocolate cake layers, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl, add in the sugar, whisk well, and set it aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the jam and the oil. They need to be blended very well, so if the jam has pieces of fruit, use an immersion blender to make the batter as smooth as possible. Once blended, add in the vanilla and milk, and mix again. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined. Take four round baking pans, ideally with a removable bottom (15 cm) and line them with baking parchment.
Divide the batter and level it as much as possible. It is rather thin, so it should distribute itself very well. Bake the cakes in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the very centre comes out clean. Because ovens vary, do check for doneness even before the 12-minute mark, to make sure they do not overbake. The cakes will be very thin and soft, so let them cool for about 5 minutes in the pans, and then remove them to a wire rack, with the baking parchment still attached, and let them cool to room temperature.

When the cakes are nearly ready, make the filling. Take a large bowl, and pour in the chilled double cream. Whip the cream with an electric mixer on high until somewhat firm peaks form, and set it aside. Take another large bowl, add in the peanut butter, and mix it with an electric mixer on medium, to make it smoother. Add in the melted chocolate, softened butter, icing sugar, and the vanilla, and blend on high until completely smooth. It can take a few moments, especially if you peanut butter was colder.
Once blended, add in a third of the whipped cream, and fold it through, simply to lighten the texture. Add in the rest of the cream, and fold it through until combined. If you think your filling is a tad on the softer side, place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or so, it will firm up. Take out two heaping tablespoons of the filling, and set aside. Divide the rest of the filling into three parts, and proceed to assemble the cake.
Prepare the cake layers by levelling them, if necessary. Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, place a cake ring around it, followed by a tall strip of acetate, and close the cake ring so it fits snugly. Add a third of the peanut butter mousse filling, and place another cake layer on top. Continue stacking until all of the cake layers have been used. Place the cake into the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, take the cake out of the refrigerator, remove the cake right and the acetate, and gently smooth the sides, if needed. Spread the reserved filling all around the cake, and place it back into the refrigerator for a few moments. Prepare the chocolate ganache by melting 200 millilitres of the double cream and the chocolate over medium heat or in the microwave. Once blended, set it aside for a moment, to cool down slightly. Spread the chocolate ganache on the top of the cake and somewhat down the sides. Whip up the remaining double cream with the unsweetened cocoa powder, and pipe decorations as desired. Serve chilled very well. Yields 20 servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2021

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