This is Gary Mehigan's version of Black Forest Cake. Layers upon layers of chocolatey goodness, cherry compote, cherry syrup, mascarpone cream and chocolate hazelnut praline mousse. The full recipe is here.
Now here's my version. Just two layers, and I took a fair few shortcuts. But hey, it looked pretty impressive if I must say so myself. Who needs candied cherries when you can get
All the other ingredients are readily available from my pantry and the fridge. My version of this recipe was actually quite simple and it took me just under an hour to make. Honestly. With a newborn and two kids running amok in the house, it was like my own version of pressure test, except I didn't subject myself to painfully pitting the cherries one by one and splitting the chocolate sponge into 5 layers.
For the chocolate sponge:
(From MasterChef Australia)
250g caster sugar (I reduced the amount to 150g - I like it not too sweet)
200g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced. Grease and line 2 x 20cm springform cake pans.
2. Add eggs and sugar to a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a saucepan of simmering water over very low heat. Whisk the mixture until 37°C. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat with an electric mixer on a medium-low speed for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture has cooled and thickened to a mousse-like consistency. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together twice. Using a large metal spoon, fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture in 3 batches until combined, adding the vanilla extract with the first dry batch.
3. Pour the mixture into the lined cake pans and smooth surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until sponge springs back when lightly touched. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the cream layer:
I used freshly whipped cream (about 300ml). I made a hazelnut praline with 1/2 cup castor sugar and 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts.
4. In a dry heavy-based saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring, until melted. Once melted, cook without stirring, swirling pan, until lightly golden. Add hazelnuts, stirring until well coated. Immediately pour mixture onto a lined tray and cool completely. Break into pieces and process in the food processor until finely chopped.
5. Fold hazelnut praline crumbs into the freshly whipped cream, reserving a little for decoration.
I omitted the cherry compote and cherry syrup. Instead I used a can of black pitted cherries in syrup.
For the chocolate ganache:
200g chopped dark chocolate
6. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside. Bring the cream to just below boiling point in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, then add the melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Allow to cool until thick but still pouring consistency.
To assemble the cake:
7. Place 1 cake as the base on the serving dish. Brush with a little syrup from the canned cherries. Spread a layer of chocolate ganache on the base. Scatter canned cherries evenly on the cake, then spread the hazelnut praline cream on. Top with the other cake. Drizzle chocolate ganache all over cake. Decorate with fresh cherries and hazelnut praline crumbs on the edges.
I think it would be lovely to split the cakes into halves to make 4 layers. But I was running out of time, so I practically just slapped everything on top of each other.
My chocolate sponge was not as light and fluffy as I would like it to be. But I did knock out quite a bit of air from the egg mixture as I was folding through the flour. I would definitely try this recipe again, hopefully not making the same mistake again and I'll try making the chocolate mousse and mascarpone cream. Maybe next summer when cherries are back in season!