Easter is almost upon us and this year, it’s all about the chocolate. Perhaps it is by virtue of my slow but steady weight loss and the accompanying endeavours to change my whole lifestyle into a healthier place to be forever that I find myself completely obsessed with the idea of making something which hits you between the eyes with the good stuff.
Read rich, full bodied, nutty undertones, silky mouth feel chocolate for the good stuff. I figure, if you are going to indulge in something with limited nutrient dense characteristics then you may as well make it as good as you can. No point in cheating on the search for skinny with cheap confectionary ;) I give you my Little Chocolate Biscoff Cloud Cakes. When people say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, it’s because they haven’t eaten these yet.
For one with a sweet tooth, it is surprising how much I like dark chocolate. I love fondant puddings made with dark chocolate and the sort of brownies you need to eat still warm, with a scoop that is also dipped into the best vanilla ice cream you can find. Whilst a few cheap confectionary bars can turn my head on occasion it has to be chocolate and it has to be now, sort of emergencies, it is the rich, complex, fudgy tones of dark 70% chocolate which I enjoy the most. I am rather smitten by Cadbury Mini Eggs, for all that they are simply Dairy Milk choccie dipped in sugar and coloured pastel shades but I save that joy for the week or two around Easter only and get my hit of the dark stuff the rest of the time.
I created these little cakes thinking about Nigella’s cloud cake – a favourite pudding for special dinners at home although I go down the vanilla route and serve it with pears, omitting the Cointreau and orange zest. The only problem with this and her Easter version is that it is impossible to slice it neatly to serve as its lack of flour meringue base makes for a crumbly crust despite its whipped chocolate fudge-like interior. Not so big a deal if you are having it for a family dinner but if like me, you plan these treats to be taken into work to stop you eating the whole batch yourself, then making them miniaturised was my first objective.
To combat the fragility of making mini flour-free cakes, a couple of spoonfuls of plain flour added stability whilst convincing the eater that these are indeed cake rather than a dessert or pudding to be eaten with a spoon. I so wouldn’t have a problem if you did eat it fresh from the oven though, a minute or two under-baked even when they will still be a little molten in the middle… Oh, my…
To make the chocolate sing, Nutella and a healthy splash of the hazelnut liqueur Frangelico win Oscars for best-supporting roles as the nuttiness adds depth of flavour to all that molten chocolate rather than shouting out for a starring role themselves. You could swap the liqueur for Kahlua or Tia Maria as coffee does wonders for all things chocolate without compromising the integrity of the bake one bit. Dark rum also – oh my, now that would be good. A little vanilla if you want to avoid booze is another way you could go.
For the topping, I wanted something which a little different to buttercream or ganache just to keep things interesting plus I wanted to use the ubiquitous Biscoff spread that has only recently come into my life. I’m sure there must be about 3 people with access to the internet and a passing interest in food who don’t know what Biscoff is so for them, I will tell you – it is a sweet spread rich with speculoos spices made by the makers of Lotus biscuits. Which are the dinky caramelised biscuits you get a clear plastic wrapper with red writing in cafes up and down the country at least here in England.
Personally, I am late to the party as in particular, my Dutch foodie friends have known about this outrageously naughty treat for quite some time but no matter lets blend it with a buttery glace icing and spread it onto our little chocolate Nutella cakes. And it wouldn’t be Easter without me busting out that bumper pack of multicoloured fluffy chicks!
Eaten as a whole, the Biscoff topping offers a little sweetness to the full-bodied, rich dark chocolate cake whilst also lending it’s spiciness to once again, compliment the chocolate. Looks like I will be doing my work out before and after work tomorrow. These cakes are totally worth it though ;)
- 150 g dark chocolate chopped
- 100 g soft butter
- 120 g Nutella
- 100 g soft brown sugar muscavado if liked
- 2 tbsp Frangelico coffee liqueur, dark rum or replace with 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 3 large eggs separated
- 40 g butter
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
- 3-4 tbsp creamy or crunchy Biscoff spread
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Either use a nonstick muffin pan or if you have it, the mini Victoria sponge tin from Lakeland which makes 12 cupcake sized but straight sided cakes. It also has the added bonus of have removable bottoms for easy unfolding. Don’t grease either tin – use muffin cases for the muffin pan if you are concerned about it’s nonstick qualities.
Melt the chocolate and butter together either over a bain marie or in the microwave.
Stir in the Nutella, liqueur or extract and sugar.
Add the eggs to chocolate mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.
Sift over the flour and flour it in
Whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form and fold into the mixture gently until the egg white only just disappears then spoon into your tin. This mixture makes 10 cakes and doesn’t rise too dramatically with all that molten chocolate. Mmm.
Bake for 18-22 minutes until they have risen, when gently prodded, there is a small amount of spring back rather than the cake sinking in on itself. The top will have set with a thin crust but if you insert a skewer, it may be a little bit damp inside.
Cool in the tin – the cakes will be too fragile to remove when hot but once down to lukewarm or room temp. unfolding should be easy.
To make the frosting, melt the butter and sugar stirring to dissolve. Stir in the Biscoff a spoonful at a time and beat it in with a spatula. The warmth of the buttery sugar will help soften it if it’s been kept in a cold cupboard. You want a spreading consistency and will need to work with it whilst still warm – it is a little crumbly if you work with it cold.
Decoration with Mini Eggs and fluffy chicks, optional if you are more tasteful then me ;)