Easter highlights our love of chocolate as a nation. I adore baking with chocolate, so it creates some fun baking challenges for me. However, dried fruits also pop up from their post-festive slumber have their moment at Easter, appearing in everything from hot cross buns to simnel cakes. I, like many other young people, am not a fruitcake fan. There is nothing quite as disappointing as biting into a 'chocolate chip' cookie and finding that the chocolate is actually a chewy, slightly bitter raisin. So deceptive.
Dried fruit has its place if it is properly soaked in delicious things like tea or rum and made the star, but so often it is found mashed into overbaked fruitcakes or scattered limply over flapjack in a bid to make them look healthy. Well, I say no to this, and hello to chocolate simnel cake. You won't find a single currant in sight, and in its place is a decadent and dense chocolate cake, smothered in chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate covered marzipan balls. Some say you can't beat a classic, but I think that *sometimes* you can.
Find in all its glory in the Waitrose Weekend paper this week alongside my hot cross buns, Easter Egg iced gems and coconut marshmallows! Recipe here or below:
FOR THE CAKE
125g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
250g plain flour
300g soft light brown sugar
30g cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
100g 70% dark chocolate
2 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Eggs, beaten
FOR THE MARZIPAN TRUFFLES
50g dark chocolate
FOR THE GANACHE
200g dark chocolate
100ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC, gas mark 3 and then grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round tin with baking parchment. Place the plain flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl, then stir to combine.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave until smooth, then remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk followed by the beaten eggs. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, whisking until a smooth batter has formed. Spread the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.
3. Bake for 50-55 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted to the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
4. To make the marzipan truffles, roll the marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls and prepare a sheet of baking parchment. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over simmering water, then use a fork and spoon to dip the marzipan balls into the chocolate and coat completely. Transfer to the baking parchment and leave to set at room temperature.
5. To make the ganache, finely chop the dark chocolate and place into a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until steaming, then pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until completely combined. If there are any lumps in your ganache, microwave in short bursts, stirring often, until they have melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes at room temperature.
6. Slice the cool cake in half using a serrated knife and place the bottom half onto a cake stand or serving plate. Spread half the ganache over the bottom layer and place the final layer onto the top. Cover with the remaining ganache and then arrange the marzipan truffles around the top edge.