Friday, December 24, 2021


Even though the holiday season can be chaotic, there is great magic in big snowflakes, walks under the glowing streetlights, and coming home to a glass of caramel brandy and a slice of homemade chocolate cake.
In general, and especially now, the holidays can truly be taxing, for multitude of reasons. As a self-taught baker, I remember the pressure around the holiday baking, the confusion around the desserts and all of the preparations, and not to mention the uncertainty of how it will turn out once baked and out of the oven. So today, I always write with people's feeling and reactions in mind; making sure that I bring a touch of encouragement to their busy baking day. If everything else is complicated, at least the dessert does not have to be.
And this cake is exactly what times like these need, the true beauty of simplicity - two fudge layers, sandwiched together by a layer of airy chocolate mousse and generous amounts of chocolate sauce. Serve it very well chilled, preferably with a cup of coffee or a brandy of choice, and enjoy.

For the chocolate rum layers
150 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
120 grams vegan block butter, unsalted
150 grams dark brown sugar
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
150 grams vanilla soya yoghurt
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
100 grams plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
For the chocolate mousse
150 millilitres plant double cream
75 grams extra dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate sauce
200 millilitres cold water
100 grams granulated sugar
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ teaspoon cornflour
1 tablespoon cold water

Start by making the chocolate mousse filling, as it will require quite a bit of chilling before whipping. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and gradually add the double cream, while mixing with a spatula constantly. It may take a bit of time to incorporate all of the cream, but be patient. Once combined, add in the vanilla, mix well, and let this cool down slightly, then place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
To make the chocolate sauce, add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sift in the cocoa powder, and whisk them together well. Pour in the water, rum, and vanilla, and mix it to combine. Place the saucepan over high heat and let it come to a boil without stirring. Once it starts to boil, cook it for 5 minutes, whisking constantly, so it does not burn.
Remove the sauce from the heat, and in a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornflour and the water. Pour this into the sauce, whisk well, and return it to the heat for 2 more minutes, or until the sauce lightly thickens. It will still be runny when hot, but will set up and thicken as it cools. Set it aside to cool completely.
Break up the chocolate into small pieces, dice the butter, and add them to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the mixture slowly melt until it becomes smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat, add in the sugar and the cocoa powder, and mix well. Add in the yoghurt, rum, and the vanilla, and once again mix well, until smooth. Finally, sift in the flour and the baking soda, and fold it through gently, until the majority of it has been incorporated, being careful not to overmix the batter.

Line two small round pans (12 cm) with baking parchment, distribute the batter equally between them, smooth it out, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 20-25 minutes. As every oven is slightly different, check the cakes early with a toothpick to make sure it is baked through, but not overbaked. If the toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, the cake is done. Once ready, remove it from the oven, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Once they are cool and ready, proceed to whip up the mousse filling. Take out the chilled cream and chocolate mixture out of the refrigerator, start mixing with an electric mixer on medium, for about 30 seconds, and then turn the speed up to high, and whip until firm peaks form. This might take a bit of time depending on the mixer and the cream used, but it will whip up. Once firm peaks form, the filling is ready. Reserve about two tablespoons of it, and proceed with assembling the cake. Place the reserved filling in a small bowl, and cover the top so it does not dry out.
Level the cake layers if needed, and place the first one on the cake platter. Place a cake ring around the first layer, line it with a sheet of acetate, and tighten the ring. Pour a bit of the chocolate sauce on the first layer, and then carefully spread the chocolate mousse over it. This can be fiddly, but a bit of patience is all that is required. Pour a bit more of the sauce over the filling, and top with the other cake layer. Cover the top with cling film, or a peace of baking parchment, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Pour the remaining chocolate sauce in a jar with a tight seal, and refrigerate.
Once the cake is ready, remove from the refrigerator, remove the cake ring and the acetate, and carefully spread the reserved filling on the sides and the top. It will only be a thin layer, but enough to smooth the sides slightly, and stop them from drying out in the refrigerator. Pour the chocolate sauce all over the top of the cake, reserving some for individual slices, and serve. Yields 8 servings.