It took me a while to pluck up the courage to make this cake. I’d had it pinned on Pinterest for aaaages but it looked so challenging that I kept putting it off. Until my son’s 18th birthday when I decided to take the plunge. And this photo was the result so I was pretty pleased with myself 🙂
How was the experience? Making the cake is time consuming. But it’s not difficult, I promise 🙂 You just need time and a bit of patience.
Believe me, if I can do this, you will be able to make it! Let me take you through it.
What will I need?
For the chocolate cake itself, I recommend a recipe from a book called “Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery“. For those of you who have looked around my blog, you will have gathered by now that this is one of my absolute favourite books. I have made many cakes featured in the book and the flavours in all of the cakes, without fail, were fantastic.
If you’re going to get one book to help you achieve great cupcakes, I highly recommend this one.
Ingredients for the chocolate layer cake
This recipe makes two 20 cm cakes, which will be sandwiched together to create one amazing layered cake filled with chocolate buttercream icing (talk about “death” by chocolate!)
230 good quality dark chocolate (for for 70% cocoa solids)
170 g of unsalted butter, room temperature
350 g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, free range or organic – separated
370 g of plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
500 ml semi skimmed milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla extract
For the Icing:
175 g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
225 g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
250 icing sugar, sifted
For the decoration:
2 cake dowels (to create the “floating” effect). If you can’t find cake dowels from your local cake shop, I used two rigid plastic re-usable straws I had lying around
Chocolate finger biscuits (or Kit Kat)
1 large bag of M&M’s
1 large bag of Maltesers
100 g of milk chocolate
I doubled up when I bought the M&M’s and Maltesers as I wasn’t sure if the 1 bag would do it. In any case, left over chocolates soon get polished off in our house!
Now, I know you’re keen to get to the chocolates, but you’ll be needing the bag to finish off the cake to create the “floating” effect so be careful how you open the packet 🙂 – don’t just rip it open
How to make the cake
Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius (170 for fan ovens). Grease and line two 20 cm cake tins with greaseproof paper
Break the chocolate pieces into a heat-proof bowl and place over a saucepan with barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted.
I prefer this method over micro-waving the chocolate as it can burn pretty quickly. And nobody needs burnt chocolate .. it’s just a waste 🙂 Just mind your fingers – that steam is hot – I speak from experience ..
Set the bowl aside to cool down.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture has a pale and smooth consistency. This should take approximately 3 – 5 minutes with a hand-mixer (I love this mixer as it has extra long handles to get to the bottom of the mixing bowl!) Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and whisk them for several minutes. Slowly add the egg yolks to the butter/sugar mixture and continue to beat well. Add the cooled chocolate to the mixture and mix together.
Take the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug or large mug. Add one third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat together. Pour in one third of the milk/vanilla mixture and beat again. Repeat these steps until you’ve used all the flour and milk mixtures.
Stick with it – You’re doing great!
In a clean bowl beat the egg whites (make sure your whisk is clean as the slightest residue will prevent them from “peaking”), until soft peaks start to form. Fold the egg whites into the mixture using a metal spoon. This will make the mixture nice and “fluffy” – (don’t beat it as it will take the air out – we like fluffy!). Divide the mixture between the two greased tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Stick a skewer in the cake to see if it comes out clean. It does? – you’re good to go!
Take the cakes out of the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes before popping them out of the tins. Place them on a wire rack and let them cool down completely – keep husband and kids away at all times at this stage of the baking!
While the cakes are cooling, you can prepare the buttercream icing.
Making the buttercream icing
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until all the chocolate has melted and has a smooth consistency. Leave the mixture to cool down slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until this is smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and beat the mixture until thick and creamy. Time to lick the whisks! .. enter the rest of the family…
Putting it all together
Remove the greaseproof paper from the cakes and spread a layer of the buttercream on top of one of the cakes. Carefully sandwich the cakes together to make one yummy large cake.
With a spatula or knife carefully spread a thin layer of buttercream around the outside and on top of the cake. Grab your chocolate fingers or Kit Kats and press against the buttercream to form the outside of the cake. Work your way around the cake, but make sure to leave a gap at the front where your chocolates will “cascade” down.
Melt the milk chocolate as per the above process (over a saucepan with barely simmering water) and dip about a third of the dowel (or straw) into the chocolate. Place the dowel slightly to the left of the cake and insert the chocolate covered end into the cake. Hold it in place until the chocolate has “set”.
Repeat this process with the other dowel and place slightly towards the right side of the cake.
Press down a row of Maltesers and M&M’s on the buttercream on top of the cake to create the “centre line”. Fill in the sweets on top of the cake until you’ve filled in all gaps.
Spread some of the melted milk chocolate to a small area in front of the cake. Attach M&M’s and Maltesers to the area to give the illusion they are falling off the cake onto the board.
At this stage I suggest you make yourself a cuppa and get comfortable for the next bit.
Apply melted chocolate to the dowel and start attaching sweets. Start at the bottom and work your way up. This can be a bit time-consuming. To make sure the sweets stayed put I held on to them until the chocolate had hardened which “sets” the chocolate in place. You continue to build this up to the top, but don’t forget to leave a gap which will be covered by the sweet packets.
And that’s it – plate the sweet bags over the top of the dowels (or straws, whatever you’ve chosen to keep your gravity defying stream of sweets up) and you’re ready to wow your visitors.
Enjoy tucking in to your finished masterpiece – you’ve earned it!
Have you made this cake? I’d love to see your creation! Don’t forget to find me on social media to share your masterpiece 🙂
This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission if you chose to use any of my links. However, as I’m sure you can tell, I absolutely love this recipe and have no hesitation in recommending you any of the products to make this fantastic cake!