Fudgy chocolate-cherry cake

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 10 - 12 people

Think of this as a very glamorous and very modern version of a Black Forest cake. Chocolate and cherry are a match made in dessert heaven and the bitter notes in the frosting give it another dimension.

  • 420 gm softened butter
  • 130 gm brown sugar
  • 130 gm caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 500 gm (31/3 cups) plain flour
  • 50 gm (1/2 cup) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 400 gm dark chocolate (63%-70% cocoa solids), melted
  • 400 gm crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Brandy or kirsch, for drizzling (optional)
  • Cherries, to serve
  •  
  • Whipped white chocolate ganache
  • 250 gm couverture white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125 gm crème fraîche
  •  
  • Cherry jam
  • 250 gm pitted cherries or frozen cherries
  • 125 gm caster sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  •  
  • Bitter chocolate frosting
  • 300 ml pouring cream
  • 250 gm dark chocolate (63%-70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 125 gm crème fraîche
01   Preheat oven to 180C. Butter two 22cm diameter cake tins, line bases with baking paper and dust with flour. Beat butter, sugars and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes), then scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sieve flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl, and add to egg mixture in 2 batches, alternating with melted chocolate, crème fraîche and milk, and beat until smooth and combined. Divide evenly among prepared tins, smooth tops and bake until a skewer withdraws with moist crumbs (50 minutes to 1 hour). Cool in tins for 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
02   Meanwhile, for whipped white chocolate ganache, melt chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, whisk in crème fraîche and refrigerate until beginning to firm (1-1½ hours). Whisk until soft peaks form (30 seconds to 1 minute; don’t over whisk or mixture will split) and stand at room temperature until required.
03   For cherry jam, stir ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook until jammy (4-5 minutes). Cool to room temperature, purée in a food processor and refrigerate until required.
04   For bitter chocolate frosting, bring cream to the boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, add chocolate and stand for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Stir in crème fraîche to just combine and set aside at room temperature.
05   To assemble, trim tops of cakes flat with a serrated knife, then halve each cake horizontally. Place a cake half on a tray, drizzle with a little brandy, spread with a third of the white chocolate ganache, then a third of the cherry jam. Top with another cake half and repeat layering, finishing with the final cake half. Spread bitter chocolate frosting over top and sides of cake and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours). Serve topped with cherries.
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