Birthdays, it seems, have taken quite a tricky turn with me.
You see, while I still revel in celebrating it however simply like we did with brunch and a movie this birthday just past, the realization of how old I’m actually turning- and how far from my young, carefree days I have come- hit me hard like a wall of bricks this year.
And this year, a lavish mocha cake seemed like the perfect birthday treat to mark my first step into the wrong side of twenty-five.
As it turns out, I really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect- or delicious- birthday cake.
A mocha cake, topped with lightly whipped cream and shards of chocolate-coated coffee beans brittle, this cake was incredible rich and moist and tiptoed the fine balance between sweet and bitterness perfectly both with the cake and the brittle; the perfect birthday cake for a rather bittersweet birthday.
One slice of this cake and all of a sudden, it didn’t matter that I was turning another year or had officially bidded adios to my mid-twenties. All I knew was I had myself some really good cake- and I wanted more.
So while I may not quite be looking forward to turning another year older this year on, I sure take comfort in the fact that I haven’t- and hopefully never will- outgrow the joys of a really good birthday cake.
And until my next birthday rolls around, you can bet I will be drowning my pains of turning yet another year older in this cake every chance I get.
Mocha Cake with Chocolate-Coated Coffee Beans Brittle [Adapted from Belinda Jeffrey’s Mix & Bake]Note: I made a bunch of changes to this recipe, firstly with the sugar (reducing the amount and then replacing part of it with light brown sugar to get a hint of caramel) and replacing the olive oil with canola oil because I honestly still haven’t gotten my head around making dessert with olive oil. I also added in a splash of Kahlua- and omitted the vanilla extract- because Kahlau, in my humble opinion, truly makes everything, especially mocha cakes, better. Let’s see, what else? Oh, I added some gelatin to the whipped cream to stabilize it because my cake was gonna be sitting in the fridge for a good eight hours or so and I didn’t want the whipping cream to start weeping (hehe). And I used chocolate-coated coffee beans in the brittle, instead of coffee beans the recipe called for, because that was all I had on hand. I was initially a little worried about how the chopped chocolate might hold up in hot caramel but it worked out rather beautifully- just make sure you pop the brittle into the fridge for a bit after it has cooled down so the chocolate hardens. I know the recipe seems rather long and has a million steps but it honestly couldn’t get any easier. You seriously don’t even need a mixer for the cake batter. All it is is really a whole lot of stirring for the cake, a little whisking for the whipping cream, a bit of pouring and a lot of patience for the brittle and viola, you’ll have yourself a gorgeous decadent cake. Seriously, make it- and you can thank me later.
35g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
75g unsalted butter
80g canola oil
3 tsp instant coffee powder
160ml hot water
90g dark chocolate, finely chopped
120g caster sugar
80g light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp Kahlua
185g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200ml pouring cream
2 tbsp water
1 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp chocolate-coated coffee beans, coarsely chopped
220g caster sugar
- To make cake Preheat the oven to 150C. Line the base of a 24cm round springform tin with baking paper and grease the sides of the tin. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, butter, oil, instant coffee powder and water and heat until the mixture is smooth, stirring frequently. Remove the saucepan from heat. Add the caster and light brown sugar as well as the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture stand for a minute before stirring to get a smooth mixture.
- Let the mixture cool before whisking in the egg and Kahlua. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir till just combined. Whisk the buttermilk until the batter comes together.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top. Bake in the center of the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or till the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the cake tin.
- To make frosting Combine the gelatin and water in a saucepan, heating until the gelatin dissolves completely. Remove from heat.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add the cooled gelatin mixture and whisk till firm peaks form. Refrigerate the cream until ready to use.
- To make brittle Line the base of a baking tray with baking paper. Grease the tray generously and set aside.
- Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat. Cook the syrup until it is a deep golden brown and immediately remove it from the heat and carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tray. Swirl the tray gently to spread the syrup evenly.
- Working quickly, sprinkle the chopped chocolate-coated coffee beans onto the brittle. Let the brittle to cool completely before placing in the fridge for about half an hour. Carefully peel the brittle away from the baking paper and break it into large shards.
- To assemble Spread the cream on top of the cake, swirling it up a little with a spatula and sprinkle the brittle over the top. Serves 8