Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Halloween Special: Ghostly Graveyard Chocolate Cake

Now we're well into October that means only one thing...Halloween is approaching!  To help you create some fantastic treats to celebrate I've created a "Halloween Special" which will include a series of deliciously devilish bakes to serve up on 31st October.  So whether you're having a frightful fancy dress party, a scary movie night or a Halloween themed afternoon tea, these bakes will go down a (trick or) treat!

To kick things off here is my Ghostly Graveyard Chocolate Cake.  A mysteriously moist, gruesomely gooey sponge, covered in thick chocolate icing and decorated with tasty tombstones and scrumptious spooks!  It makes a great centrepiece to any ghoulish get-together and will delight everyone, from cheeky little Caspers to wicked old Witches and everyone in between!

Ghostly Graveyard Chocolate Cake


300g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
125ml milk
4tbsp cocoa powder
85g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted
150ml soured cream

For the tombstones

125g unsalted butter
55g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
180g plain flour
icing sugar, to dust

For the icing

300g icing sugar, sifted
2tbsp cocoa powder
7tbsp cold water

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and line a square tin with baking paper and grease lightly.

In a large bowl sift in the flour and baking powder and mix well.  Make a well in the centre of the bowl and leave to one side.  In a small bowl mix the vanilla extract with the egg yolks and leave to one side. 

Heat half of the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until it is just about to boil.  Remove from the heat, add the cocoa powder and mix well.  Stir in the remaining cold milk, mix and leave to cool.

In a large bowl beat the butter and 200g of the sugar until pale and creamy.  Slowly whisk in the egg yolk mixture and the melted chocolate.  Use a spatula to pour the mixture into the dry ingredients along with the cool chocolate milk mixture and soured cream.  Gently fold the ingredients together until no traces of flour remain.

In a small bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and then whisk in the remaining 50g of sugar until it forms stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture gently, being careful not to overwork the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, using a spatula to smooth into the corners, and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the tombstones; turn the oven up to 190C/gas 5 and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. 

In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and vanilla with a wooden spoon until it is pale and creamy.  Sift over the flour and use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.

Dust a surface and rolling pin with a little flour and roll out the dough.  Dip a tombstone shaped cookie cutter into some flour and press into the dough repeatedly.  Place the cut cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets, roll the left over pieces of dough back into a ball and repeat the process.

When you have all the tombstones on the baking sheets dust lightly with icing sugar and place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before transferring to the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  When cold you can ice names on them if you wish to.

Meanwhile to make the icing;  place the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl and mix until well combined.  Add the water, little by little, stirring as you go, until it reaches a thick, glossy consistency.

To decorate the cake; cut the risen top off of the cake using a bread knife to give a flat surface.  Use your fingers to crumble the cut-off cake into breadcrumbs.  Pour the icing over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.  Firmly push your tombstone biscuits into the cake so they stand upright and sprinkle the cake with the cake crumbs.

Belle's Top Tip
When it comes to decorating your "graveyard" really let your imagination run wild!  You could use insect shaped jelly sweets, a cookie ghost (like mine!), spiders made from fondant as creative as you dare!