Chocolate and Lark Whiskey Cake

This weekend one of our friends celebrated his 30th birthday and it seemed only appropriate to make a cake…. a boozy chocolate cake. On Friday at lunch Sam and I visited the Lark Distillery to settle on our booze of choice, whiskey. We taste tested a number of different strengths (with some chocolate for authenticity) and decided on the 43% which was pretty smooth despite my initial shudder reaction! (and I’m sorry to say but the photographic evidence of this is not going here on the blog! Thanks Sam!)

For the birthday celebrations a large group of us caught the ferry out to MONA, a rather bracing trip in the fresh air with a last minute dolphin spotting before mooring and walking up the steps to the impressive building. To be honest I am still not entirely sure what to make of MONA, but perhaps that is a good thing. Some pieces I loved, some I hated, I think that is the idea - art is subjective and this is a private collection.

Anyway this is a food and photography blog and I am not an art critic, so following the gallery/museum we headed to the wine bar for drinks and antipasto followed by more drinks and antipasto, then it was back on the ferry for dinner at Smolt restaurant in Salamanca square. By the time we ate cake it was 11:30pm but I think the combination of chocolate cake, whiskey and toasted hazelnuts was satisfying.

To make the cake I based my recipe from one in the Primrose Bakery book, it has a few steps but it is well worth the effort. This recipe makes two 20cm round cakes.

Ingredients 230g dark chocolate (I use Green & Black’s 70%) 170g unsalted butter at room temperature 350g brown sugar 3 free range eggs separated 370g plain flour sifted 1 ½ teaspoons bicarb soda 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 500ml skinny milk 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Method: Grease and line two 20cm round tins and preheat the oven to 170 celcius.

Melt the chocolate gently and set aside to cool while you work on the next steps.

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until smooth and pale, then add the egg yolks and beat for several minutes. Add the melted chocolate to the mix and again beat well.

Combine the sifted flour, bicarb and baking powder in a separate bowl and add the vanilla extract to the milk in a jug. Add a third of the flour mix to the creamed butter mix and one third of the milk mixture, beat until well combined. Repeat this process until all the flour and milk have been added.

In a clean bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks and fold into the cake batter with a metal spoon gently. Divide the batter between the two cake tins and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes after removing from the oven to allow to set. Once cool place one cake on a plate, pour some whiskey into a tablespoon and gently pour over evenly into the cake. Allow it to soak in and the cover with a layer of icing and some crushed toasted hazelnuts. Place the second cake on top and once again gently pour another tablespoon of whiskey over the top. Ice and decorate as you wish.

To make the icing: 175g dark chocolate 225g unsalted butter at room temp 250g icing sugar 1 tablespoon skinny milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Gently melt the chocolate and allow to cool slightly.

Place the butter, milk, sifted icing sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy.

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