Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cake

I invented this cake for my youngest daughter’s birthday party. It was a great success, eaten as a finale to the festive meal. It is a large four-tiered cake which can easily be made the day before — in fact I think it tastes even better if it is. Use chocolate that contains at least 50 per cent cocoa solids.

Ingredients

  • 100 g/4 oz plain chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 225 g/8 oz butter
  • 225 g/8 oz caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50 g/2 oz ground almonds
  • 100 g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 50 g/2 oz cocoa powder
  • 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder

For the filling

  • 150 g/5 oz unsalted butter
  • 225 g/8 oz icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons single cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons peppermint essence

For the icing

  • 75 g/3 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 150 g/5 oz plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 1-2 teaspoons peppermint essence

Method

Butter a deep 19-20 cm/7½-8 in round cake tin and line the base with a disc of buttered baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Gently melt the chocolate with the water and then remove from the heat. Whisk the butter until soft, add the caster sugar and whisk until light and fluffy. Thoroughly whisk in the melted chocolate, then whisk in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the ground almonds. Sift the flour with the cocoa and baking powder. Sift again on to the cake mixture and fold in gently but thoroughly. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and smooth level. Bake in the centre of the oven for 60-70 minutes, until firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for about 10-15 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling, whisk the unsalted butter until soft. Sift in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the cream and the peppermint essence to taste.

When the cake is completely cold, cut it into 4 thin layers with a long sharp knife. Put the bottom layer on a serving plate and slip 4 strips of baking parchment under the edge in a square shape, thus protecting the plate from any icing which may spill down. Assemble the cake, spreading the filling evenly between the layers.

To make the icing, put the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until dissolved. Then boil fiercely without stirring for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and, when the bubbles subside, stir in the broken chocolate until melted and smooth. Add the peppermint essence to taste. Immediately spoon the icing on top of the cake, letting it fall down the sides as evenly as possible and spreading it round the sides quickly with a palette knife. If you are putting candles or decorations on the cake do it now before the icing sets.

When the icing has set, remove the strips of baking parchment. If you like, write a birthday message on the top in white icing — I simply squeeze it through a tiny hole cut in the end of a small polythene bag.

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