Recipe- Chocolate Popcorn Cake

I recently had the opportunity to work on a photoshoot with the rather fabulous Majella of Pavlova & Cream. This was  my first time working with a professional photographer and I would be willing to say Majella is second to none! I can’t wait for you to see the finished results but more about that to come. As only befitting of the occasion I brought along some cake. I wasn’t quite expecting the reaction it received on social media- it seemed to prove rather popular! A rich devil’s food chocolate cake with chocolate filling and icing, spiked with pistachios and cocoa nibs, and finished with Joe & Seph’s Caramel Popcorn and drizzled with caramel sauce it certainly seemed to tickle the public’s taste buds.

After numerous requests I posted the recipe here. It works really well with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to cut through the sweetness. Or just as good on it’s own!

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Chocolate Popcorn Cake

Cake sponge
100g dark muscovado sugar
250ml boiling water
150ml soured cream
60g cocoa powder, sifted
125g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 tablespoon espresso coffee
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g cocoa nibs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp chocolate extract
2 free-range eggs

Chocolate filling and icing
350g icing sugar
100g cocoa
160g unsalted butter, softened
100g dark chocolate, 70% min cocoa
1 tablespoon chocolate essence

Caramel Sauce
210g of sugar
85g butter
120ml double cream

To finish
50g pistachio nuts, shelled
20g cocoa nibs
15g Joe & Seph’s caramel popcorn

To make the caramel sauce:
– In a large saucepan, heat the sugar over a moderate heat. Continue to heat until the sugar turns a deep amber color. DO NOT STIR! If needed you can swirl the pan.
– When the deep amber color has been reached add in the butter and stir until melted.
– Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Take extra care here as adding the cream will cause the mixture to foam up and steam. Continue to whisk until the foaming subsides and the sauce is smooth.
– Leave to cool fully before proceeding.

To make the cake:
– Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the bottoms of two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with baking parchment and spray the sides with cake release spray, or grease with butter.
– Put the cocoa and the dark muscovado sugar into a large bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, add the soured cream, mix again, then set aside to cool.
– Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a stand mixer bowl, beating well until pale and fluffy.
– Stir the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and espresso coffee together in another bowl, and the cocoa nibs, and mix to combine.
– With the whisk running add the vanilla and chocolate extracts into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while.
– Add the eggs, one at a time alternating with a heaped tablespoon of the dry flour mixture. Keep mixing after each addition.
– Incorporate the rest of the dry flour mixture little by little, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, ensuring it’s well combined.
– Divide the cake batter between the two prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
– Remove the cake tins from the oven and leave the cakes to cool in their tins on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, after which turn the cakes out and set aside to cool.

To make the filling/ icing:
– In a bowl set over a pan of hot water, melt the chocolate and 60g of the butter together. Stir to combine. When fully melted remove from the heat, add in chocolate essence and set aside to cool.
– In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the icing sugar, the remainder of the butter, and cocoa. Mix well to combine until it starts to clump together.
– Dribble in the melted chocolate mixture and mix well until fully combined. If the icing appears too slack (runny) add in a tablespoon if icing sugar until desired consistency is reached.

To finish/ assemble:
– Blitz the shelled pistachios in a food processor, or chop finely. Add in the cocoa nibs and stir to combine.
– Spread/ pipe some of the icing on a sponge layer.
– Sprinkle over the pistachio mixture.
– Place second sponge layer on top and pipe a border of icing to the edge. Spread the middle of the cake top with remaining icing.
– Arrange the popcorn pieces so they sit inside the piped border.
– Drizzle over some of the caramel sauce.*
– Serve and enjoy!

*Any remaining caramel sauce can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

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