Why I’m not known for my lightness of touch.

The thing about a secret drizzle cake, is that nobody knows it’s a drizzle cake until they eat it, and even then, they’re not sure.  All they know is that it’s incredibly moist.

I am a huge fan of lemon drizzle cake and particularly those with poppy seeds in them.  I think that the sticky, sweetness and moist centre are just perfect.  It occurred to me recently, that I don’t know of any other types of drizzle cake.  This brought me to a question so staggeringly obvious that I could only answer with action: can I make a chocolate drizzle cake?

With N out of the house and the baby asleep, I set about completing what had now become a mission of the utmost importance.

My usual downfall is my need to represent flavours fully in every dish.  My poorest concoctions tend to be recipes in which I have added too much of something.  It happens more often than it should.  I sprinkle some cinnamon into a dish and then I think, “How will that tiny amount make a difference?  How will anyone even detect it?  Why bother putting such a miniscule amount in?  Need more.  Must have more.  And then some more to make sure”.  Dish is finished.  Dimitri tastes the dish and,  “Bin.  Must go in bin”.

It’s rare that I knowingly pull off subtlety.  Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to thread needles while wearing boxing gloves.  I want there to be little hints of this, a suggestion of that, a slight background accent, an ever so delicate nuance within the combination of flavours.  Imagining my food were a painting, I’d be looking to achieve a gentle merging of light and colour that was akin to the work of Degas.  On a given Sunday (or in this case, Thursday), I am more likely to turn out a propaganda poster from the forties: bold, uncompromising, and all the subtlety of a brick.

Before I’d even cracked an egg into the bowl, I knew that with this chocolate cake, I should actually embrace my heavy-handed approach.  Why not produce a chocolate cake so uncompromising in its chocolateness that it would terrify every other cake on the shelf.  A chocolate cake so rich and dark that Victoria sponge cakes blush as he catches them in his steady gaze.  A cake so self-assured that the cup cakes huddle together to steady their nerves and the old fruit loaf keeps still and wishes he were younger and braver.  Yes, I would make a secret chocolate drizzle cake.  I would include lots of real chocolate.  I would use Amaretto, a shot of Bailey’s, cinnamon by the truck-load and enough syrup to fill a bath.  How do you make a secret chocolate drizzle cake?  I’ll show you.

Secret chocolate drizzle cake

(For the cake)

200g dark chocolate

5 eggs

250g butter

160g plain flour

100ml Amaretto

120g dark brown sugar

1 tblspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

(For the syrup)

250ml water

200g sugar

(For the filling)

140ml double cream

100g plain cooking chocolate

50ml Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur

(For decoration)

A tub of chocolate fudge icing

glace cherries

dark chocolate for grating

Before we begin, this isn’t really a recipe for the kids.  It’s a chocolate cake for the grown-ups.  Yay!  It’s also a rather long recipe, but here goes!

Line two 20cm sandwich tins with baking paper and set aside.  Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.  The first thing to do is to melt the butter, sugar and chocolate together in a bowl over some simmering water.  Set the bowl to one side once everything has melted and let it cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs until they are full of air and looking fluffy and bubbly.  They’re ready for the chocolate mixture to be whisked in.  Pour the chocolate carefully into the bowl as you whisk.  Next, add the Amaretto and continue to whisk.

Finally, add the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt and whisk until there are no lumps.  The cake batter is ready.  Divide it between the sandwich tins and bake in the centre of the oven for about twenty to twenty-five minutes until the top is firm.  Check that the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the middle.  If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Only two more things to make; the filling and the syrup.  Let’s do the syrup.  Boil the suagr and water for at least five minutes until you have a thicker liquid.  Set it aside to cool slightly.

When the cakes are done, let them cool and then make lots of holes all over them using a skewer or chopstick.  Try not to go all the way through.  Pour the syrup over the cakes so that they are soaked.  You don’t need to use all of the syrup if the cake will be too soft.  We don’t want the cake to crumble or become soggy.

While the cake absorbs the syrup we can move onto making the filling.  Simply melt everything in a milk pan and stir gently until there are no lumps.  You need to leave this to cool so that you can spread it onto the cake.

Now it’s the construction job.  Place the bottom half of the cake on a plate or cake stand.  Pour and spread the cooled chocolate filling onto the cake and then gently position the top half on it.  When I did this, I hadn’t let the filling cool enough and it oozed everywhere.  Thanks to Betty Crocker, I had a tub of chocolate fudge icing on hand to cover the entire cake.  This kept the filling where it should be and also turned the cake into a secret drizzle cake!  From the outside, it will look just like a regular chocolate fudge cake.

I finished my cake with cherries and chocolate shavings.  No contemporary finish here.  It was retro, but with good reason.  The cherries help me when I come to cutting slices.  I’m a simple creature.

If you want everything to firm up, put the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Try heating a slice in the microwave for fifteen seconds and see it all ooze into chocolate loveliness.  I admit, there are lots of stages in making this cake, but it’s great if you’re feeling indulgent and have the time.  Go on, treat yourself to a big chocolate hug.