Friday, March 5, 2010

Short & Sweet Post: Scrummy Fruit & Nut Chocolate Cake

Short & Sweet...that's me. And that's about all that is "short" about this cake and post. But not to worry - there is much sweetness to be had!

Sweet Thing #1: A Trip to Spain

We've just returned from a short & sweet long weekend trip to Granada and Las Alpujarras in Andalucia and the Spanish Sierra Nevada mountains. The trip was meant to be a celebratory
sojourn of relaxation and peace, with clean mountain air to boot. In reality, it turned into non-stop babysitting of extremely active and painfully mobile Roman, with bouts of my newly-discovered mountain car-sickness. There wasn't much party or birthday-like about Matt's special day, March 1st, besides our amazing trip to La Alhambra.

Sweet Thing #2: A Chocolate Cake
And so to make up for the lame birthday, I got some recipes together and decided to give his chocolate cake yet ANOTHER try (here's my
first try, and my second try). This time I got it right, after consulting a professional baker and an actual cookbook rather than random recipes on the iternet. *sheepish grin* Oh, I also took no shortcuts on the recipe procedure. Big step in the right direction for me!

So now the cake is baked, all that's left for me to do is shout it from the rooftops (albeit a couple of days late):

Happy 78th Birthday Matt!
(ok, ok, he's 50 years younger than that :) )

* * *

Scrummy Fruit & Nut Chocolate Cake

Serves 10

Here is my attempt at a cake that approximates an adult version of Cadbury's Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bars, Matt's absolute favorite. It is a dark chocolate sponge from the Primrose Bakery Cookbook enhanced with a rum syrup, and filled with an almond and rum-soaked raisin ganache. It is iced with traditional, dark chocolate buttercream icing. For my money, and time, it doesn't get any better than this.

The sponge recipe is a little time consuming and the method a little bit annoying, but the results are well worth the effort if you like moist dark sponges that don't taste like they've been baked out of a box. But to get the recipe, you'll have to go out and buy the book. :)

-1 chocolate layer cake (2 cakes) from Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery Book (see below).
- 1 batch of dark chocolate icing from Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery Book (see below)
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup dark rum
1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup of almonds, roughly chopped, plus several more for decorating the top of the cake.
- 1 cup raisins, soaked in as much rum as necessary to cover them, for at least 1 hour


1. Bake the cake and allow to cool completely.

2. Make a simple syrup by heating water and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Once cooled slightly, add rum and almond extract. Allow to cool completely.

3. Once cake and syrup are cooled, using a skewer poke holes all over the tops of the cakes. Then pour syrup over them using a spoon or pastry brush until it has soaked in. Allow to sit for an hour or two.

4. Make the icing and separate 1/3 into a smaller bowl, then mix the raisins and almonds into this small portion of icing. Ice the top of the first layer of cake with this icing, then sandwich the second layer on top.

5. Use remaining icing to ice the top of the cake with the remaining icing and use almonds and raisins to decorate the top as desired.

6. Leave the cake covered for one night - it tastes even better the next day because the syrup has fully soaked in!

* * *

Shameless Plug: Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery

You probably thought you'd heard enough about that wonderful little cupcake bakery I used to manage? Well, think again. They've semi-recently come out with a book that the two owners co-wrote including almost all the delicious recipes you'll find at their two bakeries on a daily basis.
My personal favorites are the lemon cupcakes, but the chocolate cake is also quite a treat.
My dear friend and pastry chef / baker extraordinaire heavily collaborated with the shop owners to develop recipes, and the result is a charming little book full of goodies that aim to please both the American and British sweet teeth.

Check it out!

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  1. Happy Birthday, Matt! (BTW, 3/1 is also my sister's b-day; she missed being a Leap Year baby by a few hours)

    Wow, I bet this cake more than made up for any lackluster portions of the trip! The entire confection looks amazing but there is something so enthralling about the icing that makes me want to make a separate bowl of it . . . After a tease like this, I will definitely have to check out this book.

  2. I love the napkin holder in the background. :P