Last weekend it was my sister’s 18th birthday, so a seriously chocolatey cake was in order. Enter: a fluffy chocolate sponge, smothered in 70% dark chocolate ganache and edged with milk and white chocolate fingers. I completed the mud bath with five little fondant piggies on top – but you could have more or less, or choose a different animal altogether!
Whilst those little piggies bathed in chocolate mud awaiting consumption, we spent the afternoon whizzing through muddy woodland on off-road Segways. If you’re anything like me and have some serious balance issues, the mere prospect of Segwaying (that’s probably not even a verb, but it is now) may send you into sheer panic.
For the first five minutes or so, I was utterly hopeless; to the point that any potential spectators might have wondered how I could legally drive, if I couldn’t operate a simple Segway. Fast forward five minutes (and a few flattened cones) and I was beginning to feel more at home speeding round the little test circuit. A few loops later, and we were heading off into the forest – breezing through ferns, bouncing (quite literally) over tree trunks and going up hills as fast as the off-road tyres could carry us.
Once we were deemed sufficiently competent, the speed cap was deactivated – and we were free to whizz along at a cool 12-15 mph! By the time our hour was up Vicki and Laurence had had a couple of close encounters with muddy bogs, Mum had reached a top speed of 3 mph (she was terrified of the increased speed!) and we left eagerly anticipating our next Segway adventure!
In the evening, this cake went down an absolute treat – it’s a diabetic’s nightmare and a chocoholic’s dream. I’d wanted to make a cake edged with chocolate fingers for ages, and this was the perfect occasion. All credit for the design goes to Google Images/ Pinterest, as upon googling “pig cake” I fell head over heels for these adorable farmyard friends and couldn’t think of a better way to top the cake!
Recipe | Chocolate Mud Cake
- 150g sugar
- 125g margarine
- 175g self-raising flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 300ml double cream
- 300g dark chocolate (buy the best you can afford, as you will taste the difference; I went for Tesco 70% dark chocolate, £1 a bar)
- 3 x 114 packets of chocolate fingers (or 57 individual fingers, to be precise)
- ½ a 500g packet of fondant icing (either buy ready-dyed or dye your own, in which case you’ll also need red food colouring)
- Begin by making the cake. In a large bowl, whisk the margarine and sugar together until smooth.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to the mixture and mix until smooth.
- Add the milk.
- Grease and lightly flour 2 20cm cake tins. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, and smooth the top with the back of a spoon (or a spatula, if you have one to hand).
- Bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Aga users without a baking oven: as above, but reduce the time to 15/16 minutes.
- Whilst the cake is baking, prepare the ganache. Chop the chocolate up into small pieces – the smaller the better. Alternatively, you could grate the chocolate but this takes considerably more time! Heat the cream in a bain-marie (= bowl over a saucepan of hot water); once hot (though not curdling), tip in the chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate has dissolved. Put to one side and allow to cool; if you’re low on time, you can put it in the fridge to speed up the process, but this will slightly alter the glossy appearance of the ganache.
- Once you’ve removed the cakes from the oven, allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
- Transfer one cake to a plate, and smother the top in ganache. Put the other cake on top (hence ‘sandwich cake’) and cover that in ganache. Spread ganache around the side of the cake too.
- Arrange chocolate fingers around the edge of the cake. I had two packets of milk chocolate fingers and one of white chocolate fingers, so had to alternate the two varieties!
- For the fondant piggies, either: buy ready-made pink fondant icing; or, buy white icing and use a small amount of red food colouring to make it pink (I opted for the latter). To make the pigs, simply take a spoonful of fondant icing and roll to make a ball; a medium sized ball will suffice for the body, a slightly smaller one for the head and tiny ones for the trotters. Use a cocktail stick to add eyes, smiles, belly buttons etc. If you feel like it, smear some of the ganache on the piggies for the ultimate mud bath cake.
- If you have any ganache left over, don’t let it go to waste! Take a spoonful of the ganache, roll it into a ball and then dip in cocoa powder to make tasty truffles.
- For Segway fun in Cheshire, I’d highly recommend Cheshire Segway at Blakemere – all the fun of a Segway, with none of the fear of being attacked by oncoming traffic!
- You could substitute the chocolate fingers for KitKats, Twix or other chocolate bars/ biscuits of a similar shape.
- When making the fondant pigs, you can add a little icing sugar to the fondant to make it less sticky and easier to roll.
- This cake keeps for 3 days, covered; best stored in the fridge if it’s warm, as otherwise the fondant has a tendency to melt.