Scrumptious Cocoa Cake – The Tale of a Fail

This chocolate cake recipe is inspired by Giallo Zafferano’s Scrumptious Cocoa Cake. In the Italian household of Blender and Basil, the hubby has a soft spot for chocolate. So when his birthday comes along I usually make a chocolate treat to celebrate – this year I made a more elaborate birthday cake than usual. The base of this cake contains dark chocolate and bitter cocoa, and I added less sugar than the amount suggested: this gave it a mildly sweet, mature and charged flavour. When preparing, things didn’t go exactly as they should have, so the result was a slightly less spongy cake than I expected. Still, the flavour was very good and the birthday boy has scooped out all the leftovers, after sharing part of it with friends.

For the cake:
250g butter
300g type 00 flour
80g bitter cocoa powder
180g icing sugar
80g dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla flavouring
8 eggs
12g baking powder
For the icing:
165g sugar
40g golden syrup
125g liquid cream
7g jelly powder
150g water
75g bitter cocoa powder
For the ganache:
150g liquid cream
300g dark chocolate

Step 1 – Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a bowl big enough for them to double the size when you whip them later. In a separate big bowl, add the butter and half of the sugar, start mixing with the electrical mixer to obtain a smooth and fluffy mixture.

Step 2 – Add the egg yolks gradually and keep mixing. Then add the sifted cocoa powder and the vanilla flavouring.

Step 3 – Whip the egg whites with the other half of the sugar until fluffy. My mistake here was to whip the egg whites in a plastic bowl. Instead, it should always be either glass, metal or glazed ceramic. Don’t repeat my mistake!


Step 4 – Fold the whipped whites slowly, with a spatula, to reach a fluffy and creamy batter. Now, here comes the consequence of my mistake above. Since the whites were probably not whipped to their maximum, due to the plastic bowl I used, when I tried to fold them in, the egg would not blend with the batter, but actually the two elements separated. Feeling sorry, but determined not to throw away my cake mix, I decided to mix it in with the electrical mixer.

Step 5 – Add the sifted flour and sifted baking powder gradually with a spoon until entirely incorporated. If you have folded the whites with no problem, you can probably do this and patiently follow the instructions. By then, I knew I had compromised the fluffy effects the whites should have given to the mix, so I kept on using the mixer while adding the flour. Having said that, I still find it very unusual that the flour would be added after the fluffy whites, I’m not too sure I would have managed folding in 300g of flour without reaching out to the electrical mixer. I guess we will find out next time I try the recipe!

Step 6 – Add the chocolate chips to the mix, mixing them in with a spoon, then pour the batter into a 28cm cake tin, that you previously covered with a thin layer of butter and dusted in flour to avoid sticking. Put your cake in the oven at 175º for 45 minutes (155º if using a fan oven).

Step 7 – In the meantime, prepare your icing. First of all, put your jelly in cold water, for at least 10 minutes. Then in a large saucepan, add the cream, then the water, golden syrup and sugar. Keep mixing and bring to the boil on a gentle heat.

Step 8 – Turn the stove off and add the cocoa powder, mix and put back on the stove on a gentle heat to reach boiling point again, take it out of the stove and let it cool down for a few minutes. After draining the jelly, add it to the icing, mixing until it’s completely melted.

Step 9 – Transfer the content to a tall hand-blender bowl and blend the icing. Let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

Step 10 – If your cake is ready, put it on a grate to cool off and start working on your chocolate ganache. In a saucepan, pour the cream and add the dark chocolate in chunks. Mix on a gentle heat until the chocolate has melted completely and turn the heat off. To cool it down, place it in a bowl which you will put inside another bowl full of ice, so that the cooling won’t jeopardise the texture. Cover your ganache with clingfilm, attaching it evenly to the surface. Put it in the fridge until cold.

Step 11 – If your icing has been in the fridge for one hour, it’s time to take it out and have some fun. Make sure that your cake stands on a grate on top of a tray so that you won’t make a mess on your kitchen surface. Pour the icing on the top of your cake, and help yourself to a spatula to create an even, shiny coating. Once this is done, place the cake in the fridge for a few minutes.


Step 12 – When your ganache is cold, whip it with a mixer until fluffy and with the help of a piping bag or syringe, decorate your cake with the ganache as per your taste…and abilities! I must say mine didn’t look too sleek, but it wasn’t too bad either!

When’s the last time you made an elaborate cake? And did you make any mistakes like I did? Let us know if you try this recipe!


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