As alluded to heavily in my presentation of this cake on social media platforms, I day dreamed about this cake for some time before its creation, and my cake reality wound up vastly exceeding my cake imaginations. Based entirely around the delectability of melt in my mouth Lindt balls, this cake is all kinds of ridiculously rich in the best possible way.
It’s probably not fair for me to proclaim it is the best cake I’ve made to date, given that I haven’t actually tried all of them owing to my celiac ways, but it’s definitely the cake I’m most proud of. The height of four layers creates such impressive elegance. There was really no way to just have a “small” piece, given that when sliced, you’d wind up with a tall, albeit slim, portion. Such slivers may perhaps have been “enough”, but despite how rich the cake was, I went back for many, many helpings, just as soon as my food coma began to slightly abate. I’m absolutely terrible at goodbyes, so this cake was my gesture to the Emergency Department I finished up working at over the weekend.
This gluten free cake is not crumbly or dry in any way, and instead the fudgey, dense texture lends itself to being perfectly complimented by the Swiss meringue buttercream. I always find the dread of making such a frosting is vastly worse than the creating itself. Rather than the traditional butter/icing sugar buttercream, which, though delicious, lends itself towards being cloyingly sweet, SMB uses caster sugar and the whipping of egg whites over heat to create a buttery, smooth cake companion reminiscent of French patisseries. It’s a little bit intimidating, but very forgiving, and whips up beautifully with some coaxing even when it appears it’s all turned to a curdled mess.
When I’ve made chocolate drips previously, I’ve used cream to make a ganache, so this is my first time having a go with the chocolate/butter combination. It’s safe to say I’m an absolute convert: it is vastly easier to work with and doesn’t run the risk of becoming too runny. So often I’ve attempted drips and wound up having more of a glaze situation – which, while delicious, is not the intended outcome.
While this cake was expensive and perhaps time consuming to create, I absolutely loved the process, finding I had no idea that two hours had gone by on looking up at the clock while assembling it to decorate. It brings me so much joy to produce something so beautifully delicious, and I hope it inspires others that they can too. This cake easily feeds 30-40 people.
Lindt ball layer cake with coconut buttercream and chocolate drip
Chocolate mud cake:
- 330g (gluten free) self-raising flour (I use Edmond’s. Make sure yours has xanthan gum to bind)
- 60g good quality cocoa
- 400ml can coconut milk
- 330g butter, cubed
- 200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 450g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 300g egg whites (8-10 whole egg whites)
- 500g caster sugar
- 600g butter, cubed and left at room temperature for 1 hour
- 3 tsp coconut extract
- 100g 70% dark chocolate (Lindt, ideally)
- 60g butter
- 150g bag of dark chocolate coconut Lindt balls
- 1 tsp thread coconut
- Sprinkles and edible flowers
- Preheat oven to 160C/320F bake setting. Grease and line the bases of 2 (or 4 if you have that many!) 7″ round cake pans with nonstick baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa, along with half a teaspoon of xanthan gum if your gluten free flour blend does not already contain it.
- In a large, heavy based saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the butter and milk until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir frequently until the chocolate has melted through. Add the caster sugar, stirring further until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to allow for faster cooling. When the melted chocolate mix is cool enough for your finger to be held comfortably in it, add the dry ingredients in thirds. With a whisk, use a folding motion to combine the flour and cocoa into the wet ingredients to prevent excess air bubble formation. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture, folding through again.
- Leave the batter to stand for a minute to allow any bubbles to come to the surface. Swish the whisk around the top of the mixture to pop them.
- Pour a quarter of the batter into each of the cake tins. I only had two so baked my cakes in separate batches. Bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer or thin knife comes out clean from the centre of the cake.
- Remove the cakes from the oven, leave to cool for half an hour in the tins before removing. Wrap the cakes in tinfoil, creating an airtight seal. Leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge to be ready to decorate. It is easiest to make the cakes the night before serving.
Swiss meringue buttercream:
- In a large, heat conductive bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites until combined. Have your butter cubed and standing at room temperature, ready to be added.
- Over a saucepan of simmering water, heat the sugar and egg whites, stirring them with the whisk constantly, until they reach 160F/70C on a sugar thermometer.
- Remove the egg white mixture from the heat and beat with a free standing or hand electric mixer with the whisk attachment on high speed until the side of the bowl feels to be room temperature and the egg whites are pale and meringue-like, forming stiff peaks. This takes around 5-10 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment if using a freestanding mixer, or continue beating if making by hand, drop the speed to medium, and add the cubes of butter one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. If at any point the buttercream starts to develop a curdled appearance, beat on high speed for a couple of minutes to resuscitate.
- After all the butter has been combined through, flavour the buttercream with the coconut extract, and tint it with food colourings if so desired. Gel colours work best so as not to alter the texture of the frosting.
- Use within 30 minutes, or transfer to an airtight container to be stored at room temperature overnight, or in the fridge if longer. If not using immediately, the buttercream will need to be beaten on high speed to become fluffy and smooth again.
Chocolate drip and assembly:
- When ready to decorate for serving, have the chocolate cakes cooled and ideally refrigerated in advance. If they have domed or uneven tops, level these off with a serrate knife.
- Secure the cake to a cake board or serving tray with a little of the Swiss meringue buttercream. Using an offset spatula, spread a dollop of the Swiss meringue buttercream onto the top of the base cake layer so it evenly covers all the way out to the cake’s circumference. Place the second cake layer on top, and repeat the buttercream process.
- When the layer cake is filled, cover the top of the cake with buttercream and crumb coat the sides to “seal”. I left my cake slightly naked, with layers of the cake peeking through, using a metal spatula to smooth the edges. I kept some buttercream aside for decorating the top of the cake – this is entirely optional.
- If your cakes came out of the fridge, it should be cool enough immediately to be dripped in chocolate. Otherwise, refrigerate the cake for 10-15 minutes whilst preparing the chocolate drip.
- Heat the chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is nearly completely melted. Add the butter and stir through until combined (I needed to heat for a further 20 seconds to achieve this as my butter came straight out of the fridge). The chocolate is ready to be poured over the cake when it feels cool to touch.
- For the chocolate drip, pour the melted chocolate and butter atop the centre of the frosted cake. Using a spatula, spread it out to the sides, pushing gently so drips start to spill over. Leave to cool and set.
- When the chocolate has set completely, decorate the top of the cake. I piped rosettes of coconut buttercream with a Wilton 1M star tip before sprinkling with thread coconut and sprinkles, with a pile of chocolate coconut Lindt balls as my final flourish.
- This cake is best eaten on the day of assembly.