Happy New Year one and all, hope 2015 brings you peace, happiness and prosperity and if it doesn’t, I hope it brings you an enormous amount of cakes and good books to read! Over the last year or so I’ve been experimenting with cooking, that’s baking and regular cooking, trying out new recipes and attempting not to poison anyone in the process – well, not unless it was intentional! 

This is how it turned out!

This is how it turned out!

I’ve started collecting recipe books and kitchen utensils and thoroughly enjoying the process, even if my pocket is screaming out to me to stop with the purchases! I came across the following recipe by Mary Berry just before Christmas and as I’m not a great lover of Christmas pudding I decided to make this for the family to enjoy Christmas Day – no pressure then!

Pleased with how it turned out, quite festive!

Pleased with how it turned out, quite festive!

Following the recipe religiously everything went smoothly and the cake turned out much better than expected. One issue I did have with the instructions however was with the boiling water and cocoa powder at the beginning. Try as I might I just couldn’t get a smooth paste but despite this the overall effect was the same. I just like things to be just so and do my best. I added the 3 tbsp of boiling water to the cocoa powder all at once and maybe that’s where I went wrong – maybe it would be better to add 1 tbsp at a time and mix?

This is how the Queen of cakes did it!

This is how the Queen of cakes did it!

The only deviation from the recipe for me was the brandy stage. I didn’t have any to hand as I’m not a big drinker so it was a “plain” chocolate cake! I’ve made the cake twice now, both huge successes, the second for a friend for her birthday and again it was a plain chocolate cake.

The cake has become a firm favourite in the Rambles household and next time I bake it I will experiment with Valencian oranges adding a touch of Spain to the chocolate cake. One thing I will mention when making the mousse, be careful not to rush it and fold the whipped cream into the melted chocolate ensuring all the chocolate has been introduced. I rushed the first cake!

Over the coming months I’m going to delve into the cooking books – old and new – and see how easy the recipes are to follow – especially for a novice chef! Any questions please ask!



For the chocolate cake

  • 25g/1oz cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 tbsp boiling water
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 100g/3½oz self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 100g/3½oz margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp brandy

For the mousse

  • 300g/11oz plain chocolate (no more than 40-50 per cent cocoa solids), broken into squares
  • 450ml/16fl oz whipping cream

To serve

  • 225g/8oz fresh raspberries and blueberries
  • double cream
  • icing sugar, for dusting


Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease the tin with margarine and line the base and sides with baking paper. You need to line the tin right to the top even though the sponge will not fill it.
  2. For the chocolate cake, measure the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Pour over the boiling water and mix to a paste with a spatula. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the eggs and margarine and beat until smooth using a hand-held mixer.
  3. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a palette knife. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake feels springy to the touch.
  4. While the cake is still hot, brush the brandy over the top of the cake. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
  5. Meanwhile, for the mousse, place the chocolate in a bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). Stir continuously, taking care not to let the chocolate get too hot. Set aside to cool a little.
  6. Whip the cream until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Carefully fold in the melted chocolate until smooth and not streaky.
  7. When the cake has cooled, and while it is still in the tin, spoon the chocolate mousse on top and level with a palette knife. Cover the cake tin with cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, and preferably overnight, until the mousse is firm.
  8. To serve, carefully remove the cake from the tin and transfer it to a flat plate. Dust the top with cocoa powder, then pile the raspberries and blueberries into the centre. Finish with a light dusting of icing sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with pouring cream.
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