International Food Days keep popping up all over the place. From Doughnuts to Nutella, not forgetting the a summertime favourite – Burger day. Who heads up the official committee is anyone’s guess, although I’m hedging a bet that it’s the work of ingenious marketers, aimed at helpless consumers like you and me. Obviously it’s working ’cause here I am supporting Chocolate Day.
Sunday 13th September is International Chocolate day. Who knew? As if I need a formal reminder to eat chocolate. Please! I think a ‘Refrain from eating chocolate’ day would be more apt. In fact, I used to have a canister on my kitchen sideboard filled with Lindt chocolate buttons. For baking purposes, you know? Needless to say, eager little hands were powerless to resist scooping out fistfuls of these cocoa bean nuggets. Okay, large hands were also involved. Eventually the jar was relocated to some dark corner of the house in order to save us from ourselves.
For International Chocolate Day, I think a S’mores inspired chocolate cake, layered with whipped caramel frosting would be appropriate. The chocolate cake is quite dense, rather that light and spongy. Sandwiched between the layers we have a mascarpone and caramel frosting. To off-set the sweetness I use Lindt 70% chocolate for the ganache. The dark roasted flavour of bitter-sweet chocolate is the perfect foil to the sweet meringue peaks.
There are several options for the S’mores topping. For an authentic S’more, use tiny white marshmallows and scorch with a blow torch. If you choose to do the meringue version, you can approach it in one of two ways – conventional or the Italian meringue method. The Italian meringue uses hot sugar syrup which cooks the whites while whisking. The alternate method of beating the sugar into the egg whites is not recommended for children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
Admittedly, there are a couple of steps to making this chocolate cake, but it’s one of those occasional cakes that’s worth savouring. If you hustle, you could have this cake ready for dessert on Sunday. Happy chocolate Day!
S’mores Chocolate Cake with mascarpone caramel Frosting
For the chocolate cake layers, I’ve used the recipe from my Luxe chocolate cake with glossy ganache. It’s fail safe and fabulously versatile for a whole host of variations. You can get the recipe HERE. Please note : As the S’mores cake has both caramel and meringue in the recipe, I’ve reduced the sugar for the cake layer from 1 3/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups castor sugar, so adjust accordingly. Other than that, all other quantities remain the same.
Mascarpone caramel frosting
125g softened butter
250g mascarpone cream, at room temperature (I used Lancewood – luxuriously thick and creamy)
250g full fat cream cheese, room temperature
120g caramel (Nestle caramel treat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g confectioner’s sugar, sifted
In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the cream cheese and whisk until well combined and smooth. Add the caramel and vanilla paste and beat again until smooth. Now add the mascarpone cream and whisk gently until the mixture is smooth and combined. Finally, sift in the confectioner’s sugar and whisk until the frosting is light and fluffy.
120g Lindt 70% dark chocolate
80ml single cream
2 tablespoons butter
Place all the ganache ingredients in a glass bowl and position over a pan of simmering water. Melt over a gentle heat until smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
To make the Italian meringue, place the sugar and water in small saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, boil on a rapid heat until the syrup reaches soft ball stage (235º F). Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the cream of tarter and increase the speed. With the beater still running, slowly add the hot syrup in a steady stream and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
To assemble the cake
Position the first cake layer on a cake stand. Spread with 2 heaped tablespoons caramel frosting. Place the second cake layer on top, spread with frosting and continue in this manner until all the layers are stacked up. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides and top of the cake. This serves as the crumb coat. Chill the cake for 30-45 minutes. Ice the entire cake with a generous second layer of caramel frosting. This layer should be adequate enough to cover the dark chocolate cake beneath.
Pour the cooled ganache over the chocolate cake and ‘encourage’ the ganache over the sides with the back of a spoon. Chill the cake for about 20 minutes or just until the ganache is set. Transfer the meringue into a piping bag and pipe small peaks onto the ganache to cover the entire surface. Using a kitchen blow torch, scorch the meringue until golden.
Note: The meringue can tend to weep slightly is left to stand for an extended time. To safeguard against this, try to do the meringue peaks as close to the time you’d like serve the cake, although the Italian method is relatively safe and should minimise this.