Eight-Texture Chocolate Cake

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I have been making a version of this chocolate cake for about 15 years now. It started as a simple four-layer cake containing a chocolate base, mousse, ice cream and dark chocolate cocoa. At De Beers it became a five-texture cake and a signature dessert. This year I celebrated my eighth anniversary at Quay, so I decided to make the cake an eight-textured experience. The combination is now more complex, with a fantastic interplay of temperatures and textures. The flavour components of the cake are essentially dark chocolate, hazelnuts, caramel, vanilla and milk chocolate. I like to use a combination of Amedei Chuao (70 per cent) dark chocolate and Valrhona milk chocolate, as I consider these chocolates to be the best examples available, but feel free to use any good quality chocolate available to you. My favourite part of this cake is the sense of theatre and anticipation when we serve it in the restaurant — the hot chocolate sauce appears to melt through the centre of the cake. It is this small moment of theatre that I hope creates a lasting memory and adds to the pleasure of eating the dessert.

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To Finish and Plate

To assemble the chocolate cake, you will need eight stainless-steel rings, 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter and 2.5 cm (1 inch) high. We have had these custom-made for us at Quay. If you can find a similar ring, you can adjust the quantities and measurements to suit. You will also need a metal tray and a kitchen blow torch.

To begin, place the cake bases on a metal tray, leaving a good space between each base. Place a cake ring on top of each base, fitting the base into the ring. Next, add 1 large tablespoon of chocolate mousse mixture onto each base. Using a teaspoon, spread the mousse out and up the sides of the cake rings to an even thickness of about 1 cm (½ inch). Place the milk chocolate praline discs in the rings, on top of the mousse, and press down gently. Take 2 teaspoons of caramel, vanilla and chocolate ganache and spread this out over the milk chocolate praline disc. Next, place the chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise disc on the ganache and press down gently. Take the chocolate caramel cream and whisk until stiff peaks form. Place 1 large tablespoon of the chocolate caramel cream on top of the dacquoise and use a palette knife to spread the cream out to form a flush layer against the top of the ring. Carefully remove a 3 cm ( inch) diameter circle of caramel cream from the centre of each cake; you can use a teaspoon to do this. You need to ensure that you have removed at least 1 cm (½ inch) of depth from the surface of the cake. (Essentially this is a small hole in the top of the cake for the hot chocolate sauce to melt through the thin chocolate disc, giving the effect of hot chocolate sauce melting through the cake.)

Use a kitchen blow torch to briefly heat the outside metal edge of the cake rings. Do this one at a time. Wait a couple of seconds and slide the metal ring up from the cake. Now top each cake with the dark chocolate top disc; this disc should sit flush with the edge of the cake. Flash the top of the chocolate to ensure an even sheen. Carefully move each cake from the tray to the centre of a serving plate, using a wide, bent palette knife. Place the hot chocolate sauce into a small copper saucepan, ensuring the sauce is at a reasonably hot temperature. Serve the cake and then serve a small spoonful of the hot chocolate sauce directly to the middle of each cake. Do this in front of your guests and they will see the chocolate sauce melt through the chocolate disc into the hole you previously made, adding a little theatre to the whole experience.

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