Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chocolate leaf cake

I went out for a meal with the guys from Socii last night, which was really nice. I made a special chocolate cake to say thanks to Harriet for all her hard work this year, and we then proceeded to make pigs of ourselves with it.

I'd seen a picture of chocolate leaves in a cake book a while ago, and thought they looked cool, so it was a good excuse for me to have a go at making them. The recipe that went along with it was awful though, it took ages and came out really rubbery and tasteless, so I used my own chocolate cake recipe instead. It serves 16.

For the cake:
8oz white sugar
8oz margarine/soft butter
4 eggs (large or medium)
2 tsp vanilla essence
6oz self-raising flour
2oz cocoa powder
2 tbs Bailey's or other similar cream liqueur

1) Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. In a large bowl, cream together margarine and sugar with a wooden spoon until mixture is paler and feels much less "gritty".
2) Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla, then beat in the whites a little at a time. The mixture should end up about the same consistency as before the eggs were added. Bear with it, it's a great workout for the upper arms!
3) Switch to a metal spoon. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into the mixture, add the Bailey's and fold in very gently until completely combined.
4) Grease a 9-inch round cake tin and spoon the mixture into it. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes until the middle of the cake springs back when touched, and the sides are starting to come away from the sides of the tin. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:
200ml double cream (I use Elmlea, because I can't tell the difference)
200g white chocolate, finely grated
75ml liqueur (raspberry, vanilla, banana, peppermint, orange or toffee flavour would work well, or even more Bailey's - I used raspberry in the cake last night)

1) Whip the cream and liqueur in a bowl until it is thick, but doesn't stand in peaks when you lift the whisk. Another arm workout, unless you have an electric whisk.
2) Fold in the white chocolate. Easy, huh?
3) Once the cake is completely cool, cut it in half horizontally and sandwich the halves together with the filling. Stand the cake on the wire rack with a large plate underneath it.

For the icing:
200ml double cream (see above)
200g plain chocolate

1) Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small saucepan with the cream. Heat gently until the chcolate has melted.
2) Stir until well mixed and glossy. Leave to cool and thicken a little.
3) Pour the icing over the top of the cake. It will run down the sides of the cake to cover it, you'll need to encourage it a little with a teaspoon or table knife so every bit of the side is covered.
4) Carefully transfer the cake onto a serving plate.

For the leaves:
75g plain chocolate
75g milk chocolate
25g milk and 50g white chocolate

This is the fun bit.
1) Find some leaves - you'll need about 45 smallish ones. I used a mixture of oak, apple and holly leaves. Rose, mint, geranium, or other fruit trees would be fine. The apple leaves were too thin and tended to tear when I peeled them away from the chocolate. The oak leaves worked perfectly and looked great, and the holly leaves were very fiddly to peel off (peel the corners first if you try them) but did look fantastic.
2) Wash and dry your leaves well.
3) Melt one batch of chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave (but be careful not to overheat it).
4) Using a small paintbrush, apply a layer of chocolate on the underside of 15 of the leaves. I added another layer once they'd cooled, the chocolate needs to be thick enough not to break when you remove the leaves. Chill in the freezer until set.
5) Repeat with the other batches of chocolate and the remaining leaves.
You could try using the different shades of chocolate to make patterns, dark in the middle and light at the edges makes the leaves look variegated.
6) Carefully peel the leaves away from the chocolate, and gently press the chocolate leaves into the icing of the cake.

It would be rather nice to add some drained canned black cherries or fresh raspberries to the filling of the cake to make it even more special!

Harriet had made certificates for everyone, and presented them last night. Mine was for "Best Cake Baker". I guess my 22 years of baking experience counts for something, anyway. ;) I'm going to miss the guys over the summer, it'll be a long time before we sing together again.


  1. Anna, what a beautiful cake and I bet it was scrumptious. Thank you for the picture and the recipe. You are one talented lady.

  2. What a fabulous idea!

    Now I'm hungry, damn it! ;-)

  3. Thanks Carmen! I love to bake, any excuse to do it really.

    Sorry Attila... ;)