Sunday, April 26, 2009

Famous Truffle Cake

Be prepared to spend a lot of money on this cake - it usually clocks in at about $50 USD for all ingredients, but that's only if you can get miniatures of all the alcohol.

For the cake:

· 3 cups all-purpose flour

· 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder – the darker the better (I like Ghirardelli)

· 3 teaspoons baking soda

· a pinch of salt

· 2 sticks butter (I know…) – unsalted real butter ONLY

· 3 cups white sugar

· 4 eggs

· 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

· 3 cups buttermilk

- 2 tablespoons honey (optional – adds moisture)

- nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and a pinch of crushed cardamom to taste (optional – to add depth of flavor)

- 2 shots chocolate liqueur (preferably better than crème de cacao but that’ll do in a pinch) – more if you want

- ½ cup dark chocolate shavings

And one of the following:

- ¼ cup flavoring of your choice. Some suggestions:

Grand Marnier, Chambord, amaretto, Frangelico, Jameson, Ararat Raisin Brandy, osmanthus paste, rose syrup, dark spiced rum, extra dark espresso+kahlua, kirschwasser...basically any flavor of your choice – make sure you can smell it in the batter before you pop it in the oven or it won’t carry any taste when it comes out

For the filling:

1 bag dark chocolate chips (or equivalent chocolate blocks) – semisweet or dark. I prefer Lindt, Ghirardelli or any higher-quality brand. Dark chocolate makes a better cake than milk

1 ½ cups cream (one small blue carton in Taiwan, one mini-carton in the USA) plus ¼ cup extra

flavoring to taste – I like to use a complementary flavor – so for coffee-flavored cake I might add a little coffee to this as well as some Frangelico (hazelnut) or Jameson (whiskey). For osmanthus, I add a little matcha tea powder. For rose, try to get some violet liqueur or even lavender liqueur.

½ stick butter (again, I know…)

Other things to make truffles

Powder of your choice – cinnamon, powdered instant coffee, cocoa, confectioner’s sugar, all good…

For the syrup:

White sugar

1 ½ cup flavor of your choice (see below for ways to play with flavors used here)

For the icing:

A bag of pure dark chocolate chips (you could use less)

¼ cup cream

topping of your choice including powder, shaved chocolate, fruit, nuts etc..


Make sure the cake batter is runny the way normal batter is. If it’s too wet or too dry, that’ll reflect in the cake that comes out. Add flour if too runny, add cream or buttermilk if too thick.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix sugar with the butter until it’s a paste, then slowly add eggs. In separate bowl combine other solids. Slowly mix together. Don’t stir too much or it’ll activate something in the flour that’ll muck up the consistency. At the end add vanilla, spices, chocolate liqueur and other flavors to taste, making sure to adjust the batter consistency as needed. Throw in chocolate shavings.

Remember alcohol evaporates, so if alcohol is making it runny don’t worry as much.

Grease 2 9-inch baking pans and add cake mixture above. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.


While cake is baking, take chocolate liqueur and the flavoring of your choice for about 1 ½ cup total of liquid and put it on the stove (do not allow to boil, just warm it up). Add some sugar (to taste – I don’t like it too sweet) and mix until mixture cooks down to 1 cup. Tip: for rose flavor, don’t do this with rose syrup. The regular syrup is fine. For osmanthus flavor, don’t use the paste, rather make a strong concoction of osmanthus tea and add just a little paste. For the fruit flavors, use the jam/marmalade of that fruit along with the alcohol – but choose a nice, unsweetened organic version. For the coffee, it’s always a good idea to dump in an extra shot or two of Kahlua or Tia Maria.

When cake is done, while cooling use a pastry brush to brush the warmed syrup over the top. Give each layer two to four brushings, allowing each to soak in.

When cake is cool, turn one upside down, out of pan and onto tray. Brush with more syrup (which may have come out more or less as water-consistency; that’s OK) but don’t allow it to get mushy. Do not turn the other yet.

Set aside.

For filling:

In saucepan or pot, boil water and set a large bowl that fits over the top that will hold all ingredients. Do not allow water to touch bottom of bowl.

In bowl, heat up cream and melt butter in it. When cream is hot but not boiling, slowly add the chocolate chips, adding more as the old ones melt.

Add flavor to taste.

When the entire mixture is liquid, remove a small amount (one soup bowl fill), cover and set in fridge. Add a bit more cream to the rest, put in separate bowl, cover and set in fridge. Allow to set completely (at least a few hours or overnight).

When totally set, take out the portion with more cream. Using a very strong metal spoon, take out teaspoon or tablespoon (whatever) size chunks and roll them into balls. Place balls on top of upturned cake until entire top is covered in balls (hee hee). Use any extra to fill in the gaps/valleys between the…balls.

Flip second cake on top of first cake. Brush with more syrup as above.

For icing:

This is easy. Make another steam-cooker with a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and melt chocolate – I use a full bag of chips but you could safely use less.

Line area below cake with wax paper. Trust me.

When chocolate is melted, pour over top, using pastry brush to make sure it evenly coats the sides. Brush over sides when you have a nice thick coating on top.

Set aside, allow to cool completely.

When cool, use a sifter, fine sieve or even a ‘tea spoon’ for loose tea (the kind with holes) to finely sprinkle confectioner’s sugar and cocoa over the top. You could alternately use shaved chocolate or really whatever you want.

Take out the rest of the chocolate batter. Using a strong spoon, take out teaspoon sized chunks, roll into balls and coat balls in powder/crushed nuts (heh) of your choice. For the osmanthus cake, I use matcha tea powder with confectioner’s sugar. Use balls to decorate cake. I like to put them around the top with some cut strawberries, chocolate curls, cherries or nuts, and then squish a few at regular intervals between the two layers to hide any irregularity there. Then set a few around the bottom.

Peel away wax paper to reveal a cleanly decorated, beautiful cake.

Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

For ideas on how to decorate it, just Google images of "chocolate truffle cake" - many people are far more creative than I am. I like the cube cake with truffles up the side but that would require altering the recipe.

I used to have a picture of this cake but I apologize, it seems to have been lost in the transition between computers.

1 comment:

Alima Bell said...

Your website is fabulous. I love chocolate Truffle Cake. It is quite light but I love the combination but it really works as a plain chocolate truffle cake or with rum as Nigella specifies and yes with the rum soused sultanas. Thankyou! It’s in her dinner party cakes in the chocolate cake hall of fame. I think I need to spend more time next time & follow your advice. I can't wait to make this next week.