Chocolate Nest Easter Cake
I have three absolutely chronic parenting fears:
1) Secondary drowning, which I didn’t even know I needed to worry about until I watched The Affair;
2) That one day they will move abroad to a country near the Equator and I shall have to visit at them some point (the insects endemic to those countries are too big);
Everyone seems to know about the risks that grapes and nuts pose, so I can rest assured when my back is turned that the former are usually cut into two and latter are never on offer anyway, because of allergies.
But at this time of year, I have to maintain Jason Bourne-levels of vigilance as Mini Eggs are distributed by the Easter Bunny with alarming levels of abandonment. Children are completely oblivious to the perilous nature of these pastel-coloured nuggets and if I am not there to intervene, they will happily stuff an entire handful into their mouths while running around the garden to look for more and I cannot even begin to be responsible for that risk assessment without wanting to retch into a straw bonnet.
So what I am trying to say is that I have to eat them all myself. For the children.
And herewith a recipe for a delicious cake decorated with a load of those menacing little chocolate oeufs. My children are always under strict instructions not to come within 100 metres of it, until I've eaten all of the topping. For. The. Children.
This is a Nigella recipe; very straightforward and what’s so great is it is supposed to look a bit shit and haphazard – it’s a nest, you see? BUT, because I think I'm a better chef than one of the world's most successful home cooks, I would recommend leaving out the dark chocolate from the topping and just going with plain cream, unless you have a particularly sweet tooth.
INGREDIENTS (serves 8-10)
For the cake
- 250 grams dark chocolate (chopped)
- 125 grams unsalted butter (softened)
- 6 medium eggs (2 whole, 4 separated)
- 175 grams caster sugar (75g / 1/3 cup for yolk mixture, 100g / 2/3 cup for whites)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping
- 125 grams dark chocolate (chopped)
- 250 millilitres double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 packet chocolate mini eggs (for decorating)
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350°F.
- Line the bottom of a 23cm / 9in springform cake tin with baking parchment, or better still, Bake-O-Glide but do not grease the sides of the tin.
- Melt the 250g / 9oz chocolate with the butter in either a double boiler or a microwave and then set aside to cool slightly.
- Whisk the 4 egg whites until firm, then gradually add the 100g / 2/3 cup of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape and peak gleamingly - but not stiff.
- Remove this bowl (if you're using a freestanding mixer, as I do, though a handheld job would do fine) and set aside while you whisk, in another bowl, the 2 whole eggs and 4 yolks with the 75g / 1/3 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract, and then gently fold in the chocolate mixture. Lighten the mixture with some egg whites - just dollop a large spoonful in and stir briskly - and then fold in the rest of the whisked whites gently, in about three goes.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly on the surface. Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools and the sides splinter. You want this to look like a cake with a crater in it, so do not panic at the vision of imperfection in front of you. That's one of the reasons this cake is so unstressful to make.
- To finish the cake, carefully remove it from the tin and place it on a plate or cake-stand, not worrying if bits fall off here and there. Put them back in a loose fashion.
- Melt the chocolate for the topping and leave it to cool a little. Whip the cream until it is firming up and aerated but still soft, and then add the vanilla and fold in the melted chocolate. Fill the crater of the cake with the chocolatey cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake with a rubber spatula, and then arrange the little sugar Easter eggs on top.