JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nigella's rich icing for chocolate birthday cakes

This is the time of year when there are a lot of birthdays, and I have to make a lot of cake. For years, I turned to my mother-in-law's recipe for very rich chocolate refrigerator cake, a great favourite, especially when there's a crowd. Four years ago Nigella's dense chocolate loaf took over - I can be precise because I write notes on my recipe books ... here it says, amongst other things: delicious, although all over the oven.

Yesterday, I thought I'd try something new, and Nigella's always a good place to start when you're thinking of making a chocolate cake. So I chose the chocolate fudge cake from Nigella Bites.

Big mistake. I mean, it was absolutely delicious, but it also took up the whole day, AND made me late for the dinner at which it was to be served. And the usual chocolate loaf would have been just as good. Especially if I'd put the buttercream icing on it. Or the delicious chocolate brownies from How to be a Domestic Goddess that Tom's mum made for cricket teas on Saturday - I only rejected them as I thought it was a little casual for a once-a-year treat.

Part of the problem was that the cakes rose up spectacularly in the middle: all that baking powder and bicarb. I thought at the time there was rather a lot, but I'm always a little reluctant to mess with recipes for baking. But also there was a staggering amount of fuss - I felt like a Daring Baker having an off day. And I found myself thinking that the rich are different because they have people to wash up after them - it's a long time since I've used quite so many different bowls and pans.

But the icing is worth keeping - for very special occasions, as it's solid saturated fat ... yesterday we were celebrating Lettice's 18th birthday, which seemed like a moment to throw caution to the winds.

Nigella's fudge icing

This is enough to fill and totally cover a pair of 20cm chocolate sandwich cakes. Half would comfortably cover the top of a cake.

175g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
250g butter, at room temperature
275g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a pan over water, or using a microwave. Beat the butter until it is creamy. Add the icing sugar. Beat more. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla.


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Happy Birthday to Lettice. 18th - a very momentous one too.

KJ said...

ooh your cake sounds delightful. I agree nigella does do good chocolate.

Anonymous said...

I have cooked rather too many of Nigella's chocolate cakes (pretty much the whole chocolate section in Feast) as my hips will testify. The triple chocolate cake is a particular favourite as is the malteaser cake.

I was going to make cupcakes for church this weekend but maybe chocolate would be a better idea!

Happy Birthday Lettice, definitely a good reason to throw caution windwards.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Happy Birthday all year long Lettice!!
A Daring Baker having an off day? Sounds like it was spot on to me . . . mess in the kitchen, disaster avoided - spot on!

Sandra said...

Happy birthday Lettice!

I think your comment about the rich and dishes is spot on! I used to cook chickens very hot and fast a la Nigella's instructions and the state of the oven was appalling afterwards. Even slothful I noticed it.

Hope you all had a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

this site stole this post:

Joanna said...

Thanks for letting me know, anon - I think they've done it before, and doubtless they'll do it again. Grrr