I made more of this brownie cake than I initially knew what to do with this week. Fortunately, the rich, densely chocolatey layers were the perfect way to spread my current enthusiasm for passionfruit around to various October birthday friends!
I doubled and modified a brownie layer cake recipe to be gluten free and wound up with far too many individual cakes (nine!) for one celebration, but it was almost more magical to put together not just a cake with multiple layers, but MULTIPLE CAKES. This really isn’t so much a cake in fact, as it is a multi-tiered dessert. There’s really nothing worse to me than a dry, store-bought cake, and this creation is a fudgey testament to why there’s no place for them in my life. As someone with an incredibly sweet tooth and no sense of decorum (I once consumed 500g of Toblerone at Pisa Airport waiting for a Ryanair flight with no qualms), I can safely say that even a small slice (the curse of tall treats) is incredibly rich, making it perfect for sharing!
While milk chocolate will always be my favourite chocolate to nibble on in its straight up form, dark chocolate is much more fun to play with. Passionfruit works beautifully with the rich cocoa flavours, cutting through some of the sweetness and helping the dessert taste more like sunshine. The cake and caramel can easily be prepared well in advance – you could even store the cake in the freezer, making assembly on the day of consumption far easy than appearances would suggest.
chocolate brownie layer cake with passionfruit mascarpone and caramel
Brownie layer cake:
- 200g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 200g unsalted butter
- 250g icing sugar
- 3 large free range eggs
- 110g gluten free or standard plain flour (I like the Edmond’s mix)
- 150g caster sugar
- 50g corn syrup
- 50ml water
- 50g butter
- 125ml (1/2 cup) cream
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 500ml (2 cups) cream
- 200g mascarpone
- 1 tbsp freeze-dried passionfruit powder (I used Fresh As brand – if unavailable, substitute with 1/4 cup fresh passionfruit pulp or syrup)
- 40g (1/3 cup) icing/confectioner’s sugar
To decorate: fresh flowers
Brownie layer cakes:
- Grease and line as many 6″ springform cake tins you have on hand (I only had two, and so had to cook my cake layers in batches) – this will yield three-four layers depending on preference. Preheat oven to 180C/350F bake setting.
- Melt most of the dark chocolate – reserving a handful or so of small chunks to be added at the end, either in increments on low power in the microwave or in a heat conductive bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Gradually beat the flour into the batter at a lower speed, followed by the melted chocolate. Fold through the remaining chocolate chunks.
- Divide the cake batter amongst the cake tins – you should get around four layers if cooking with a 6″ tin, or three if cooking with a 7″ or 8″. Bake for 20 minutes – the top of the cakes will be sunken, the middle fudgey and not quite cooked. Cool on a rack for half an hour before removing from the tins and cooling completely.
- I stored my cakes in the fridge wrapped in cling film/glad wrap until ready to use – they are much easier to work with when cool!
- In a small saucepan, heat the water, caster sugar and corn syrup (if you can’t find this at the supermarket or don’t have it on hand, subsitute with as much sugar but be careful not to stir the sugar syrup, les it crystallise) over medium heat, only stirring until the sugar has just dissolved.
- When the sugar syrup is starting to caramelise and take on a golden colour, reove from heat (the darker the colour, the stronger the caramel taste, obviously, so keep a close eye as sugar can burn very quickly!) and whisk in the butter, followed by the cream and vanilla essence. Leave to cool before storing in an airtight jar until using.
- Beat together the cream, mascarpone, icing sugar and passionfruit powder until light and fluffy. Store in the fridge until assembly.
- Level the cakes with a serrated knife, cutting off the tall edges and reserving for use for crumbs on the top of the cake.
- Secure the bottom cake layer to a cake board or serving plate with a little of the cream. Spread a third (or a quarter, depending on how many layers you have made) of the passionfruit filling on top of the base layer, using an offset spatula to evenly cover right out to the cake cirumference. Drizzle some of the caramel sauce over the cream messily, making sure some drips down the sides.
- Place the second cake layer on top, and repeat the same filling/caramel drizzling process.
- I decorated the top of the cake with a thick layer of passionfruit mascarpone, caramel, passionfruit syrup, and brownie crumbs. The centrepiece of passiofruit and chocolate macarons are entirely optional, and I will provide the recipe for them (SOON). Keep refrigerated until serving.