When I started this blog, I never ever thought that I’d meet people who would one day become some of my closest friends. As we reminisced about our early dinner ‘dates’ at Lotus and Gazebo, and the many adventures we’ve had since then, I thought about how incredibly lucky I am to have Steph and Karen in my life, and I hope they’ll be around for a long time yet.
For Karen’s birthday, Steph and I decided that we should make her an epic homemade birthday cake. We often brainstorm baking ideas together, but we haven’t really collaborated on a baking project together since the Lemon Lime and Bitters macarons. As we threw some ideas around, we kept coming back to the insanely awesome combination of Chocolate and Pedro Ximénez sherry, two of Karen’s favourite things in the world. But what if we made it even more awesome by baking up some buttery shortbread, studded with chocolate and cocoa nibs? It absolutely had to be done!
I was in charge of making the cake, and I decided on a fudgy chocolate brownie cake that formed the base of the Peanut Butter and Banana Mousse cake that I made last year. I omitted the peanut butter and added some PX, and deliberately under-baked it a little bit so it would be extra rich and gooey in the middle. I have to say, it smelled absolutely amazing as it was in the oven! The next morning I packed up the cake and headed to Steph’s place to make the ganache. And in major heart attack-inducing fashion, I nearly dropped the cake in transit…twice.
The chocolate and PX ganache that we made was luscious and totally sexy, spread in messy swirls over the cake. The cocoa nib shortbread that Steph made was absolutely delicious! She decided on some cute heart shapes to encircle the cake and tied it with a ribbon, which I think ended up looking really, really cute. Head over to her blog for the recipe! The reaction from Karen was absolutely priceless, and the verdict was that the cake was “better than sex” – quite the endorsement.
Happy Birthday Karen!!! Thank you for being so damn awesome! I’m so glad you liked the cake, it was so fun to make and to work with Steph on another baking/styling project. We better put on our thinking caps to come up with something even more awesome for next year 😉
Chocolate and PX Brownie Cake
Adapted from this recipe
• 200g butter
• 100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 3 eggs
• 210g caster sugar
• 100g plain flour
• 1/3 cup Pedro Ximénez sherry
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 175g dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 150ml pouring cream
• ¼ cup Pedro Ximénez sherry
Cocoa Nib Shortbread
Recipe on Raspberri Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer until thick and pale, fold through chocolate mixture then fold in flour and Pedro Ximénez. Spoon into a buttered, baking paper lined springform pan (I used 2 x 20cm pans), smooth top and bake until just firm to touch (20-25 minutes) Cool completely in pan.
To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the cream and Pedro Ximénez in a saucepan and heat until just before boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until cooled, and then whisk with electric beaters until ganache is luscious and spreadable. Spread over top and sides of cake.