In December Bolton’s Clandestine Cake Club had the theme of ‘Jingle all the Way’. I knew straight away what Christmas themed cake I wanted to do. My Chocolate Snowball cake has become my ‘go to’ Christmas dessert recipe as I’m not a fan of Christmas pudding so this is what I usually bake.
It’s a very dense chocolate sponge with a simple vanilla buttercream. I love the contrast of the dark chocolate colour against the white topping, it’s quite impressive when you cut into it, and even though it’s a bit of a beast of a cake, it’s not too rich or sickly. I think the vanilla goes well with the chocolate sponge and stops it being too rich.
For the Sponge:
- 230g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 350g light soft brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 370g plain flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 500ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 500g icing sugar
- 160g unsalted butter, softened
- 50ml whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Uses two 20cm sandwich tins
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C/375 degrees F/gas mark 5. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a microwave safe-safe bowl. Melt on a medium setting in 30-second bursts until completely melted. Stir well between each session. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Set the bowl aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat them for several minutes. Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well. Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and again beat well.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug. Add one third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until tall the flour and milk have been added.
- In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites, with clean beaters, until soft peaks start to foam. Carefully fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon (do not beat or you will take all the air out of the mixture.) I find at this point that the batter is almost mousse like, it’s not a usual cake mixture consistency. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Insert a skewer in the centre of the cakes – it should come out clean when it’s cooked.
- Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Peel the greaseproof paper from the bases of the cakes.
- Whilst the sponges are cooling make the buttercream frosting. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter and whisk on a low speed using an electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, until fully combined and a sandy consistency. Add the vanilla essence to the milk and pour into the butter and icing sugar while still mixing on a low speed, then increase the speed to high and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy.
- When the sponges are completely cooled sandwich the two layers together with the vanilla frosting and cover the top and sides generously. Use a fork to create texture on the outside of the cake.
I like to add a little translucent glitter over the top of the cake too as it adds a nice Christmassy shimmer!
This is a really simple recipe that has become a firm favourite in our household. It’s such a yummy moist brownie, and the Oreos are an extra little sneaky treat. Whenever I’ve made these for friends and family they’ve been well received, and I made these for the Horwich Christmas Fair cake stall, and they sold pretty well. It’s a Lorraine Pascale recipe, and I’ve found it’s consistently reliable whenever I make it.
Here’s the recipe:
Requires one 20cm square baking tin
- 165g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 200g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract (I tend to use the extract)
- 165g soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 154g pack of Oreo biscuits, broken into quarters
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, Gas mark 5 with the middle shelf ready. Grease the baking tin, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little
- Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated chocolate. Leave to stand for a few minutes until the chocolate goes soft then stir together.
- Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until they begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked into it. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready pour the chocolate into it, again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the oreos and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining oreos over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The middles should be very so slightly gooey.
- Leave the brownies in the tin to cool. The top will sink and crack a little. Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut the brownies into squares.
If you’re not a fan of oreos, you can substitute them for toasted walnuts, pecans or sprinkle the brownies with honeycomb. I may mix it up and try some other variations in the future, but I’m still not bored with the oreos yet as they’re so yummy!
I couldn’t resist posting the below pic which was taken at the Horwich Christmas Fair of my brownie on the cake stall! I’m pleased with how awesome it looks! Puts my food photography to shame!
Earlier this year I got involved in a Summer Fair which had been Co-organised by my friend and Clandestine Cake Club organiser (@dollybakes www.dollybakes.co.uk) to raise money for the Bolton Neo Natal unit. So when there was talk of a Christmas Fair, I was tripping over myself to volunteer to help out again! The Horwich Christmas fair took place yesterday, and It was a fantastic event to be involved in. I think the final figure is still to be released, but I believe we raised over £1000 for such a fantastic cause!
My task for the day was to run the cake stall, where we asked local baking enthusiasts to donate some of their produce for us to sell. Of course as a keen baker myself I felt it important to donate a variety of tasty treats myself and it being Christmas, it was only appropriate to do something festive themed. To my trusty Hummingbird Cake Days book I turned, knowing there would be something which would fit the bill. I selected the Candy Cane cupcakes as they seemed a good Christmassy choice of cupcake flavour, and I’m a fan of duo colour frosting swirl designs. I had been given a recommendation on how to do two colours in one piping bag which is different to how I would usually do it so I was keen to give that a try as well. I’m pleased with how the cupcakes turned out, they looked fantastic and tasted lovely, very festive. Here’s the recipe:
Makes 12-16 Cupcakes
For the sponge:
- 80g unsalted butter, softened
- 280g caster sugar 240g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 240ml whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 large eggs
For the Frosting:
- 500g Icing Sugar
- 160g unsalted butter, softened
- 4 tsp Peppermint Essence
- 50ml whole milk
- 1 tsp christmas red food colouring
- Transparent sugar/glitter for sprinkling
One or 2 12 hole deep muffin tins & piping bag with a medium-sized nozzle.
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, gas mark 5, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases
- Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly whisk together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Place the milk in a jug with the vanilla essence, add the eggs and whisk together by hand. Pour three quarters of the whisked milk and eggs into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture and keep mixing on a medium speed until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth once again.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling each one up to two-thirds. If any batter is left, use it to fill up more cases in the other tin. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before you add the frosting.
- Using the electric whisk or the freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the icing sugar with the butter and peppermint essence on a low speed until the mixture is sandy in consistency, with no large lumps of butter left in the bowl.
- Gradually add the milk and slowly mix until incorporated, then increase the speed to high and whisk until light and fluffy. Divide the frosting into two, leaving one as it is and mixing the food colouring into the second batch.
- Lay a large segment of cling film on a flat surface and spoon one of the batches of frosting onto it creating a long log of frosting. Roll it up with the cling film, then do the same with the other batch of frosting so you have two logs of the same thickness and length. Wrap both the logs side by side with another sheet of cling film and snip off one end of the cling film and drop the log into your piping bag. When you pipe, from the edge of the cupcake into the centre the two colours should come out side by side creating the candy cane effect. Then sprinkle with the glitter/transparent sugar.