Chocolate truffle cake with ginger sauce

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    10

    or more

Appears in

‘This is not an easy pudding to make, nor is it a cheap one; however, for chocolate addicts it must represent at least step four on their stairway to heaven. Simon Hopkinson told me that this cake should never come off the menu: easy for him to say, he wasn’t trying to cook it every day. After a ten-year run in the West End to rave notices, the curtain finally came down on this old trouper when I ran out of pastry chefs prepared to take him on.

Ingredients

  • a little whisky or brandy, let down with an equal quantity of warm sugared water

Chocolate Genoise

  • 30 g butter, plus another 20 g for greasing the cake tin
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 130 g plain flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder

White Chocolate Truffle

  • 500 g good-quality white chocolate
  • 450 ml double cream

Dark Chocolate Truffle

  • 500 g good-quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa fat
  • 750 ml double cream

Method

Making the Chocolate Genoise

This provides the base of the cake and must be made first. You will only need one quarter of it. To use up the remainder, refer to, where Chocolate Mousse Cake is suggested.

Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Take a 25 cm springform cake tin and grease it thoroughly with butter. Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer, with the wire whisk attachment, until pale and trebled in volume. This will take about 10 minutes. During this time, put the 30 g butter on to melt, but not cook, and sieve the flour and cocoa together. When the eggs and sugar are beaten to the required thickness, it is known as the ‘ribbon stage’, due to the slow, thick way the batter runs off the whisk. The classic test is to see if you can write your name with this ribbon on the surface of the rest of the batter.

Now the first difficult bit: having successfully incorporated all that air into the batter we don’t want to lose it all when the flour, cocoa and butter are added. There are two methods of doing this. The first is to use the pouring chute attachment on the mixer, which is the simplest way, but in terms of the lightness of the sponge is inferior to the second method detailed below. With the mixer running at medium speed, pour the cocoa-flour mix into the batter in a steady stream. Immediately this is done, add the melted butter in the same way. Run the mixer for 30 seconds more, then switch off. Transfer the batter to your cake tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Test the cake for doneness: do so by inserting a clean knife blade into the centre of the cake; if it comes out clean the sponge is ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack and unmould after 10 minutes or so.

The second method is to do the combining by hand. This is known as ‘folding’ the flour in, a peculiarly accurate term because that is exactly what you have to do. Remove the bowl from the mixer, take a stainless kitchen spoon in your best hand and with the other hand pour in the flour and cocoa mix. Fold the solids into the batter by gently plunging the spoon to the bottom of the bowl then lifting and turning it back to the top. With your other hand rotate the bowl a quarter circle each time you do a fold. Quickly repeat with the melted butter, and proceed to bake the cake as above.

When the sponge has cooled completely, cut off a 5 mm slice from the bottom. Try and make this slice as even as possible though that isn’t easy. Wash the springform tin out and dry thoroughly, then place the slice of sponge in the reassembled tin. Mix the spirit of your choice, whisky or brandy, with a little hot water and a tsp of sugar. You will need enough of this syrup to lightly moisten the sponge circle sitting in the springform tin.

Making the White Chocolate Truffle

Melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting in a pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should sit clear of the water. It is vital that the water does not boil in this bain-marie, or the chocolate will be scorched. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the bain-marie and allow to cool while the cream is beaten. The cream should be whisked until just stiff and definitely not overworked to a buttery texture.

Before combining the two ingredients, it is very important to check the temperature of the chocolate, it should be at blood heat. Short of sticking a medical thermometer in the bowl, the easiest way to judge this is with your finger. If the chocolate feels neutral, not noticeably warm or cool, then you are in the right area. If you try and incorporate the cream when the chocolate is too hot it will re-liquefy. On the other hand, let the chocolate cool too much and it will refuse to mix with the cream.

The actual mixing is very simple: just whisk together quickly or, if you are feeling brave, fold the cream in. When this is done, scrape the mixture on to the moistened sponge in the springform tin and level it off with a spatula. Refrigerate while you tackle the dark chocolate truffle.

Making the Dark Chocolate Truffle

The procedure for this is exactly the same as for the white chocolate. When done, splodge into the springform tin on top of the white chocolate, and level the top with a palette knife. Refrigerate for an hour or so.

Unmoulding and Serving

Loosen the clip on the cake tin and run a sharp hot knife carefully round the inside. Remove the outer ring but I do not recommend trying to take the cake off the tin’s base, simply serve on it. A hot knife, repeatedly dipped in boiling water between slices, is essential to portion this cake. Typical’ of the bloody dish: difficult to the end. But this beast of a pudding has one other virtue – it keeps for days in the fridge. Serve with a puddle of ginger sauce.

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