Chocolate and Blueberry Reindeer Cake

RECIPE #4

Are you fed up with fruit cake?  Peeved with pud?  Would you rather have your toes gnawed off by a nest of baby wolverines than scoff down another mince pie?  Well then my precious fret not, for I have the perfect antidote to the winter sweets blues: Chocolate Blueberry Cake!

I can imagine you sitting there now doing a Scooby Doo double take.  Do blueberries even go with chocolate?  I had exactly the same reservations the very first time the idea was suggested to me.  But come on, seriously, they’ve put all sorts of bizarre things into chocolate that have turned out to be pleasantly surprising taste sensations: peanut butter and chocolate, chilli and chocolate, even Marmite and chocolate for cryin’ out loud.  So in these contexts, blueberries aren’t really so outlandish.

The first time this combination of loveliness came into my awareness was when I was asked to make a chocolate blueberry birthday cake by a friend.  I did some on line research and found several recipes.  I took what I considered to be the best of them and added my own twists.  What follows is my personal variation.

Trust me, after just one bite of this dark and seductive delight, your taste buds will fall madly in love with you and propose marriage.  Just be careful that your nostril hairs don’t find out; you know how jealous those nose bats can get.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

Equipment:

  • Two 7 inch cake tins
  • A glass beaker of mug
  • teaspoons
  • A large bowl
  • An electric mixer
  • A stiff rubber spatula
  • Several small bowls
  • Silicone or baking paper
  • An A4 sheet of craft card
  • Scissors
  • Cling film
  • A rolling pin
  • A large palette knife
  • A craft knife
  • A large baking tray
  • A cooling rack
  • A turntable
  • A 10 inch cake board
  • A hand whisk
  • One medium metal bowl
  • One large metal bowl
  • A sturdy metal saucepan
  • A fork
  • A large piping bag
  • A piping nozzle adaptor
  • A number 32 piping nozzle
  • A number 16 piping nozzle
  • Fondant modelling tools
  • Toothpicks
  • A cake decorating turntable
  • A dough scraper

Ingredients:
For the cake

  • 125 grams of fresh blueberries
  • 45 grams of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules
  • 120 millilitres of boiling water
  • 150 grams of dark chocolate melted
  • 170 grams of butter at room temperature
  • 150 grams of dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • One 454 gram jar of blueberry or black currant jam
  • 210 grams of self raising flour

For the decoration

  • 75 grams of fresh blueberries
  • 85 grams of egg whites
  • 170 grams of white granulated sugar
  • 250 grams of butter
  • 200 grams of melted white chocolate
  • Red food colour gel
  • Blue food colour gel
  • edible gold glitter
  • Chocolate balls in red foil
  • A small quantity of gingerbread dough
  • 75 grams of fresh blueberries

Start off by washing the blueberries and patting them dry with some paper kitchen towels:
IMG_4268Separate 125 grams of the blueberries and chop them in half.  You only need to chop the large berries; you can leave the smaller ones whole of you like.  Place the chopped berries into a small bowl and dredge them thoroughly in a couple of tablespoons of flour before you set them aside:
IMG_4270IMG_4271You should have about 75 grams of blueberries still left.  Place these into a bowl and mash them up with about two heaped tablespoons of icing sugar.  Once you have done this, set this bowl aside also:
IMG_4304Place the cocoa and coffee granules into a cup or glass tumbler and mix in the boiling water to make a smooth chocolate paste.  And then guess what – yes, set this aside as well, (make sure you have plenty of room on your counter top; you’re going to need it):
IMG_4258Almost done with the prep work.  There’s just one more thing to do.  Take your two sponge tins, grease them with some vegetable oil and line the bases with circles of baking paper and set aside:
IMG_4257Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
And now we’re ready to get down to business and mix the cake.

Using your electric hand mixer, whisk the butter until it is pale and fluffy:
IMG_4259Add the brown sugar and continue to whisk until you have something that resembles carmel coloured whipped cream:
IMG_4260Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly.  Your mixture should be light and airy:
IMG_4261Add 125 grams of the jam to the mixture and whisk it in.  Now ideally you should use blueberry jam, because this is a chocolate blueberry cake.  However, for some reason, I have been finding it frustratingly difficult to find any blueberry jam at the stores.  Most of the supermarkets just don’t seem very keen on stocking it.  Ironically they seem to have no shortage of fresh blueberries even in the dead of winter.  I suppose you could always make your own blueberry jam from scratch, but just be warned that you’ll need a lot of blueberries and it is likely to be a very expensive exercise.  Perhaps that was the the supermarkets had planned all along, bloomin’ rip-off merchants.  In any case, black currant jam will make a perfectly acceptable substitute:
IMG_4264IMG_4265Your mixture should now have taken on a lovely deep purple hue:
IMG_4266Melt 150 grams of dark chocolate in the microwave, making sure you don’t overheat it, then set it aside to cool slightly:
IMG_4272Into the cake batter tip the self raising flour and fold in gently, making sure you don’t knock out too muck of the air you whisked in earlier:
IMG_4273Now you can bring in most of the set aside things and free up some space on your overcrowded counter.  First stir in the cocoa and coffee paste and melted chocolate:
IMG_4274Then stir in the flour dredged chopped blueberries:
IMG_4275IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not add the mashed blueberries.  They are for the icing, not the cake.  Sorry, I should have made that clear earlier.

Your mixture should now look something like this:
IMG_4277Divide the cake batter evenly between the two cake tins and place them in the preheated oven to bake for between 35 to 45 minutes:
IMG_4278There are a variety of ways you can decorate the the finished cake.  However, this is going to be a Yuletide themed treat.  So we are going to make a gingerbread reindeer.  For this you will need to print out this template onto a sheet of craft card:
Template 1 copyYou will also need a quantity of gingerbread dough, the recipe for which you can find in my previous article entitled Stained Glass Christmas Gingerbread – Imperial and Rebel Mickey Editions.  Gingerbread dough keeps very well in the fridge for weeks and even months.  So you can make a large quantity and use it as and when you need it.  However, we are only going to use a very small amount for this recipe.  So if making a fresh batch of gingerbread dough feels like it would be too much of a rigmarole, then you can just make your reindeer face with fondant icing instead.

Cut out the templates from the cardboard.  Place the gingerbread (or fondant) dough between to sheets of cling film and roll it out to a thickness of about 3 millimetres.  Lay the templates for the face and the antlers over the top of the cling film laid over the rolled gingerbread dough and cut around them carefully with a sharp craft knife, (mind you fingers).  I have included only one template for the antlers because you really only need one.  To cut out the shape for the right-hand antler, simply flip the template over.  Place the cut out gingerbread pieces onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for between 7 to 10 minutes at 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4 or until the biscuits just start to turn brown around the edges.  Place the baked gingerbread on a wire rack to cool:
IMG_4279IMG_4280IMG_4281IMG_4284By now the cakes should have finished baking.  To test their done-ness, push a toothpick into the thickest centre parts of the cakes.  If the toothpicks come out clean, that means the cakes are done.  Leave them to cool slightly in the tins for about 10 minutes and then tip them out onto a wire rack to cool completely:
IMG_4283Once the cakes are completely cool to the touch, take a 10 inch cake board, lay it onto a turntable and spread a little bit of the remaining jam onto the surface.  This will act like a glue to help prevent the cake form slipping while you ice it:
IMG_4286Place one cake layer onto the cake board, flat side down, and spread about three tablespoons of jam over the top.  Place the second cake layer onto the jammed layer, flat side facing up, and then smother the whole cake with the remaining jam.  Tidy up any spills with the pallet knife and put the cake in the fridge until the jam sets:
IMG_4287IMG_4289Now we are going to make a Swiss meringue butter cream, which in my opinion is the best kind of the butter creams.  There are also French and Italian meringue butter creams, but I haven’t bothered learning about those yet.  And why would I when the Swiss version is so awesome?

Place the egg whites in a metal bowl with a pinch of salt and whisk until the whites just start to turn frothy.  Add the sugar and whisk in until thoroughly mixed:
IMG_4290IMG_4291Now we need to assemble a double boiler, which is basically just a metal bowl sitting over a pan of boiling water.  Make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl:
IMG_4292Put on an oven glove to hold the bowl steady over the boiling water as you whisk vigorously.  Your aim is to get the eggs cooked to a temperature where they have become pasteurised.  But don’t worry, you won’t need to muck about with any fiddly sugar thermometers.  You see the sugar melts at a temperature that is higher than the temperature it takes to make the eggs safe to eat.  The mixture should end up looking white and creamy.  To test if it is ready, just dip your index finger into the mixture and rub it with your thumb.  If you can no longer feel any gritty bits of sugar crystals, that means it’s done:
IMG_4293Into a separate larger metal bowl, pour some cold water.  Place the the smaller bowl into the larger bowl so that it floats in the water.  Be careful not to get any water into the mixture.  Using an electric mixer on a high speed setting, whisk the egg white mixture until it has attained a marshmallow texture and it is completely cooled:
IMG_4294IMG_4295Now remove the small bowl from the cold water and whisk in the butter a little at a time.  There will come a point when the icing mix will resemble something like scrambled eggs.  Don’t worry, nothing has gone wrong; it is supposed to look like this.  Just keep whisking until you have added all the butter:
IMG_4296IMG_4297IMG_4298Melt 200 grams of white chocolate in the mocrowave, leave it to cool a little and then whisk it into the butter cream:
IMG_4300IMG_4301That is a basic Swiss meringue butter cream.  Normally at this point you would add some vanilla paste and it would be ready to spread on the cake.  But for this recipe we’re going to do something extra special.  First separate about about a quarter of the mixture into a smaller bowl:
IMG_4303To the remaining bulk in the large bowl, stir in the the mashed blueberry mixed that you set aside earlier:
IMG_4305IMG_4306Tip the butter cream onto the jammed cake and work it with the palette knife and dough scraper until it forms a smooth, even layer all over the cake:
IMG_4307IMG_4309Arrange the reindeer gingerbread face onto the top of the cake like so:
IMG_4310Into the butter cream mixture you set aside a short while ago, drip some red food colouring gel.  Not too much, just enough to turn the mixture pink.  Put most of the pink butter cream into a piping bag with a number 32 icing nozzle, but keep a little of the butter cream back in the bowl as you will need some for finishing shortly:
IMG_4313IMG_4314IMG_4315Pipe the edges of the cake thusly:
IMG_4316To make the reindeer ears roll out two pea-sized pieces of fondants and another two that are half the size.  I have used yellow and red because these were the only colours I had to hand at the time, but you will probably have some more appropriate hues.  Flatten out the fondant peas and place the smaller ones inside the bigger ones and use a fondant tool to form them into ear shapes:
IMG_4317IMG_4318IMG_4319IMG_4320IMG_4321Take the remaining pink butter cream and add some drops of blue to make purple and put it into an icing bag with a number 16 icing nozzle.  Place the fondant ears onto the reindeer face and pipe the purple butter cream daintily around the edges to make a border:
IMG_4322IMG_4323IMG_4324Place a dot of butter cream into the centre of Rudolph’s face to help his shiny red nose stay in place.  Place the remainder of the red chocolate noses around the base border:
IMG_4326IMG_4325IMG_4329Finish everything off with a sprinkling of edibible gold fairy dust:
IMG_4330And there it is.  Merry Christmas, and Gawd bless us, every one:
IMG_4331NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Jurassic cake 2Jurassic cake 5

One thought on “Chocolate and Blueberry Reindeer Cake

  1. Pingback: Chocolate and Blueberry Reindeer Cake | terrificwriter

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