This cake is a beast… When I mentally planned it (over the course of about a month…) I didn’t envision it being quite so tall…I purposefully used my smallest cake tins so that it didn’t turn out too large…I failed. So you know, maybe save this one to make when you have more than just four people to eat it…
I based this cake on one of my favourite ice cream flavours – Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked. Which consists of pieces of brownie and cookie dough swirled through chocolate and vanilla ice creams. So I ended up with three layers of chocolate brownie, sandwiched with vanilla ermine frosting and balls of (eggless) cookie dough, topped with treacle chocolate fudge frosting and more cookie dough…I don’t want to think about the amount of sugar and butter involved…
The ermine frosting is also know as cooked flour frosting – because that’s exactly what it is – you cook flour and milk together in a pan until it becomes very thick, then leave it to cool, whisk together some butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then gradually whisk in the flour mixture and some vanilla. You end up with one of the smoothest, velvety-est icings I have ever tried, it almost has the texture of whipped cream and it melts in your mouth, although it is firm enough to pipe well and hold its shape (It is also much easier to make than swiss meringue buttercream!). The treacle chocolate fudge frosting is sort of a variation on the cooked flour one, you whisk together cornflour, cocoa, sugar, treacle and milk in a pan and heat until very thick and pudding-like then whisk in chocolate and butter. The icing is not the easiest to pipe – as you can see my spikes are decidedly wonky (although I quite like the jagged effect)…It more than makes up for this in flavour though…it is incredibly silky and fudgy. It is rich, but as it isn’t a sugar and butter based icing it isn’t overly sweet or sickly, I could happily eat it straight from the bowl with a spoon (there was a lot of spoon licking going on while making this cake…).
The cookie dough balls are a basic eggless cookie dough mixture, I made the dough quite stiff, so it is easy to shape. Once I had formed the balls I kept them in the freezer until I needed them – that way it was easier to press them into the icing as they were firm. I baked my brownies in three 15cm round tins which resulted in this impressively tall three layer cake, you could bake them in two 23cm round tins instead if you prefer, making a two layer, wider cake (which would be easier to slice!).
Every element of this cake is delicious on it’s own, together they taste amazing! It is very rich, so serve in small slices, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I reckon it serves about 14 people, although you could probably get up to 16 slices out of it.
- 245g (1 cup + 1 tsp) butter, cubed
- 245g (8.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- 115g (scant 1 cup) plain flour
- 55g (scant ½ cup) cocoa powder
- 4 large eggs
- 365g (1 + ¾ cups + 1 tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
- 75g (scant ⅓ cup) softened butter
- 80g (1/3 cup + 2 tbsp) light brown soft sugar
- 80g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 225g (1 + ¾ cups + 2 tbsp) plain flour
- 3 tbsp milk
- 110g (4 oz) chocolate chips
- 150ml (scant ⅔ cup) full fat milk
- 2½ tbsp plain flour
- 125g (1/2 cup) softened butter
- 125g (scant ⅔ cup) caster sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 2 tbsp treacle
- 150g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) light brown soft sugar
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 300ml (1 + ¼ cups) full fat milk
- 125g (4.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- 125g (4.5 oz) milk chocolate, chopped
- 50g (1/4 cup) butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Place the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don't allow the base of the bowl to touch the water) and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line the bases of three 15cm/6in round cake tins with greaseproof paper.
- Mix together the flour and cocoa powder.
- Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and whisk with an electric mixer until very pale and thick and at least doubled in volume.
- Pour the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture and fold in gently until almost combined. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder mixture and continue to fold in gently until there is no longer any dry flour, the mixture will be thick and fudgy.
- Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until the centre no longer wobbles and a skewer comes out with moist crumbs but not wet batter on it. Keep a close eye on them as they can go from being under to overbaked in a matter of minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins.
- Whisk together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract then add the flour and milk. Mix until it forms a firm dough then stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pinch off small pieces of dough (about ½ tsp) and roll into balls, place the balls on a tray. Continue until you have used all of the dough then place the tray in the freezer until needed.
- Whisk together the milk and flour in a small saucepan until smooth. Place over a medium low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and pudding-like.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl and cover with clingfilm directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cold.
- Once the roux is cold, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl/stand mixer and whisk on a high speed for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
- Whisk in the milk roux, a tablespoon at a time, until you have added it all and the frosting is completely smooth; it should have the consistency of whipped cream.
- Whisk together the treacle, sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and milk in a medium saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Cook until the mixture has become very thick and pudding-like.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the dark and milk chocolate until smooth, then whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
- Scrape into a bowl and cover with clingfilm directly on the surface, set aside until cooled.
- Remove the brownies from their tins. Place one layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread half of the ermine frosting over this layer and the other half over one of the other brownie layers.
- Remove the cookie dough balls from the freezer and press some deeply into the frosting on each of the brownie layers (I used about a quarter of the balls per layer, but it will depend on how big your balls are (fnar!)).
- Place the other frosted brownie layer on top of the one on the serving platter, then place the final brownie layer upside down on the top. Press down on the top gently to level it, then smooth out the frosting around the edges.
- Set aside just under a quarter of the chocolate frosting for decorating the top of the cake, then cover the whole cake with a very thin layer of the chocolate frosting - just enough to seal in the crumbs, you should be able to see the cake through it.
- Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes until the frosting has started to set. Cover the cake with the remaining frosting (apart from the bit you set aside). I used a dough scraper to get it fairly smooth, then evened out any rough patches with a palette knife dipped in boiling water.
- Place the bit of frosting that you set aside into a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle (or you can just snip the tip off the piping bag if it is a disposable one).
- Pipe dollops of frosting all around the edge of the cake, it is not the easiest frosting to pipe, so it helps if it is not completely cold (you can warm it up very gently by placing the bowl of frosting over a pan of steaming water).
- Arrange the remaining cookie dough balls in the centre of the cake and around the bottom.
- Serve in very thin slices.
2. Chocolate fudge icing from Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard