Hip hip hooray! Today is T and Cake’s 2nd birthday! Wow, where have the last two years gone? So much has happened over that time and hopefully there are many more adventures to come. My new kitchen units have arrived (all 120 boxes) and hopefully I’ll soon be busy experimenting with new toys and fancy settings on the oven. I’ve also had the good fortune to get an allotment which will require rather a lot of heavy duty digging over winter but should provide some beautiful fresh ingredients come next summer. But what is a blog without people to read it? Here’s to you, kind readers. Thank you for stopping by, leaving comments and making this blog what it is. I’m sorry not to be able to share this birthday cake with you in person but we can celebrate in spirit. Cheers!
This rather fabulous creation combines lots of my favourite things; the cake layers are flavoured with orange zest and whisky and doused with whisky syrup to keep them moist and tender. The ganache is made with chestnut purée, dark chocolate and a smidge of sugar making it just barely sweet to contrast with the syrupy cake; a sickly sweet frosting it is not. The flavours remind me so much of autumn, the whisky provides warmth, the orange hints at the winter months to come and the chocolate and chestnut ganache is rich and nutty. I wanted to echo the season in the decoration; my first attempt at chocolate leaves didn’t produce quite enough for an artful bonfire-style stack but there were enough to get the idea across and earn an appreciative whistle from the family.
Despite being so autumnal I think this would also make a spectacular alternate Christmas cake decorated with chocolate-dipped marrons glacés or candied orange slices. The chestnut ganache can be a little tricky to work with unless you chill it well and I don’t think the original recipe would have set at all with so little chocolate, my version below more than doubles the chocolate and the result is like a thick mouse. For this reason it’s probably best to keep the finished cake in the fridge until half an hour before serving it.
Whisky cake with chestnut and chocolate ganache
For the cake:
- 300g butter
- 225g sugar
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons whisky
- zest of 1 orange
- 300g self-raising flour
For the syrup:
- 50g sugar
- 50ml water
- 35ml whisky
For the ganache:
- 250ml double cream
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 250g dark chocolate, cut into very small pieces
- 250g unsweetened chestnut purée
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs followed by the whisky and orange zest.
Sift the flour into the wet mix and fold in.
Divide between three lined and greased 20cm round tins and bake for 20–25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the tins, brush with the whisky syrup (see next step) and leave to cool completely.
To make the whisky syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved set aside to cool. Once at room temperature add the whisky and stir well.
To make the ganache, warm the cream and sugar in a small pan, do not allow it to boil. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes then fold in the chestnut purée. Chill until thick enough to spread.
Sandwich the cakes together with a third of the ganache then cover the whole cake with a thin crumb coat and chill for 30 minutes.
Cover the chilled cake with the remaining ganache and decorate with chocolate curls or leaves.
To make chocolate leaves:
Pick a selection of sturdy, untreated leaves from non-poisonous plants – I used rose and apple from my garden so I knew there were no nasty chemicals on them. Wash them and pat dry.
Melt 50g of chocolate and, using a pastry brush, paint the underside of each leaf (the underside has the veins which will leave an impression on the chocolate).
Chill until set then very carefully peel the leaves away from the chocolate. Try to handle them as little as possible as warm hands will melt holes in the this chocolate. Chill until needed.