Am I alone in the belief that the word “ultimate” has no place in the title of a recipe? One of the many joys of cooking is the experimental aspect of it. Even if your aim is to make a dish perfectly, exactly as it was meant to be made, chances are you’ll still have to tweak the recipe a bit to get the finished product just right. “Ultimate” means final. The end. The zenith, the conclusion, the last word. So when a recipe is presented as the “ultimate” of something, I take that as a challenge to do it one better.
For Laura’s birthday a few weeks ago, I made a cake. The recipe I used was called “Ultimate Chocolate Cake,” which I chose because it seemed to be the densest, fudgiest chocolate cake recipe out there. As far as I’m concerned, chocolate cakes ought to be rich, dense, and dark – essentially, my ideal chocolate cake is actually a brownie. So this “ultimate” recipe, which calls for sordid, indecent quantities of dark chocolate, butter, and sugar with flour kept to a bare minimum, looked just about perfect.
And it was. The resultant cake was weighty, moist, and as dark as earth; it was chocolate first and cake second. It was, in fact, so rich that I decided to make tart currant-nectarine sauce to offset it. But as exquisite as it was, the recipe as written ought to have been named “Penultimate” chocolate cake, for I swapped out the original, basic ganache for an experimental frosting formed by alloying Nutella with Bailey’s – making this even more debauched and delicious.
Of course, I could never presume to call my cover version of this cake the “ultimate,” either, and so I’m giving it a new, more accurate name. Please do tailor it to your own taste!
Super-Duper Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
200 grams high-quality dark chocolate, chopped
200 grams butter, cut in pieces
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules, dissolved into 1/2 cup cold water
85 grams self-raising flour
85 grams plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
200 grams light brown sugar
200 grams golden caster sugar
25 grams cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
5 tablespoons buttermilk
- Butter a 20- by 8-centimeter cake tin and line the bottom. Preheat oven to 160ºC/325ºF.
- Melt chocolate and butter together with coffee over low heat in a medium saucepan.
- Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Beat eggs in a separate bowl and stir in buttermilk.
- Pour the chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Batter should be runny and smooth.
- Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes-1 hour 45 minutes. Cake is finished when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely for 3-4 hours.
For the ganache:
150 grams high-quality dark chocolate
1 tablespoons golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
3/4 cup Nutella
6 Ferrero Rocher, crushed
- Pour Irish cream into a saucepan and allow alcohol to cook off over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Do not boil.
- Add chocolate, sugar, cocoa, butter, and Nutella stir until smooth.
- Allow ganache to cool to room temperature, then pour 1/3 ganache into a separate bowl and stir in Ferrero Rocher.
- Slice the cake into two layers. Spread the ganache with Ferrero Rocher pieces onto the bottom layer, then replace the top layer. Spread remaining ganache evenly over the entire cake, smoothing with a pallette knife.
- Serve with fruit sauce and fresh mint.