Winter Forest Chocolate Cake
Preheat the oven to 170˚C (fan oven 150˚C, 325˚F, gas 3). Grease and line 2 x 7cm (3inch) deep, 18cm (7 inch) diameter round cake tins.
Break the Extra Dark Chocolate into pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl with the butter pieces. Put the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and leave to melt. Remove from the water and mix in the sugar and treacle. Leave aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until stiff and set aside.
Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and Baking Powder on top and add the ground almonds. Pile the egg whites on top and then carefully fold and mix all the ingredients together until well combined, taking care to retain as much of the airy texture as possible.
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and smooth the tops. Put the tins on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until firm and slightly risen – a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins before turning on to a wire rack to cool completely.
To decorate, slice each cake through the middle to make 4 equal layers. Break the Extra Dark Chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and leave to melt. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and leave aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Whilst whisking the chocolate, gradually pour in the cream, whisking until thick and glossy. Use 1/3 of the chocolate cream to sandwhich the 4 layers together. Then spreading the remaining chocolate cream to cover the sides of the cake using a palette knife, then transfer to a serving plate. Leave in a cool place whilst preparing the topping. If the room temperature is warm, pop the cake in the fridge for up to 20 minutes.
Break up the White Chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt as above. Leave aside to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the butter in a bowl and beat until smooth and glossy. Gradually sieve and mix in the icing sugar to make a firm icing, then mix in the melted white chocolate.
Pile the White Chocolate icing on top and spread thickly to generously cover the top, allowing the icing to spill over the edge of the cake. Carefully push the chocolate trees in the top and dust with icing sugar to resemble snow. Your cake is now ready to serve and enjoy!
Note: Once chilled, the chocolate cream and icing will set firm. Prolonged chilling of this cake will dry out the texture.
Break up a 150g of 72% Extra Dark Chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and leave to melt. Remove from the water and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Line a large board with baking parchment. Using a silicone or plastic spatula, scrape the melted chocolate into the centre of the parchment and spread the melted chocolate thinly over the parchment to make a rectangle approx. 25 x 38cm (10 x 15inch). Leave in a cool place for about 20 minutes or until set. If your kitchen is warm, pop the chocolate in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to set.
Fill a shallow dish with hot water. Using an approx. 11.5cm (4 ½ inch), 8.5cm (3 ¼ inch) and a 4.5cm (1 ¾ inch) Christmas tree cutter, dip the cutters in the hot water, wipe dry and press through the chocolate firmly to make tree shapes. If you place the cutters close together, you should be able to cut out 4 large, 8 medium and 10 small trees. Note: dip the cutters in hot water and dry each time to enable you to cut through the chocolate.
Using a palette knife, carefully slide the blade under the trees to help you peel them away from the paper, and gently snap the shapes from the rest of the chocolate sheet. Keep all the chocolate trimmings.
Using a sharp knife, dip the blade in the hot water, dry and carefully slice down the middle of half the of tree shapes to make the sides of the trees.
Melt the chocolate trimmings as above. Remove from the water and cool for 10 minutes. Spoon a little chocolate into a small uncut piping bag. Place the remaining chocolate over hot water to keep it melted.
Working on one tree at a time, snip a thin piece from the top of the piping bag using scissors and pipe 2 thin strips of chocolate down the centre of one of the uncut trees. Carefully place one of the tree sides on the melted chocolate and hold it in place until the chocolate begins to set – you may need to pipe a little more chocolate along the join to fill in any gaps; this will also help give a more secure structure. Once the side of chocolate is free standing, place on a board in a cool place and continue to secure a side on each of the remaining trees.
Suspend a wire rack or an oven shelf so that is at least 5cm (2 inch) above the work surface – we used 4 upturned ramekins. Lay the trees carefully through the wires so that the flat side is uppermost. Again working on one tree at a time, refill the piping bag with more melted chocolate if necessary and pipe 2 thin strips down the centre of a tree. Carefully place a chocolate side on top and hold in place until the chocolate begins to set. Fill in any gaps as above, then once the chocolate has set completely, carefully remove the tree and place back on the board on its side whilst you finish the remaining trees.
Once all the trees are set, you can use them to decorate your cake.