Chocolate and cardamom mousse cake with homemade honeycomb recipe
This is a really simple torte recipe, and if you’re really pushed for time you can even buy the sponge base to make it even easier for yourself. The homemade honeycomb may seem a bit scary, but once you’ve tried it you’ll see how easy it is to do.
Skill level Mid
Genoise sponge base
15 g (½ oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
75 g (3 oz) caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
60 g (2½oz) plain flour, sieved
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp whisky (preferably single malt)
1½ tbsp golden syrup
100 g (4 oz) caster sugar
½ tsp ground cardamom (about 12 cardamom pods, seeds finely ground)
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 g (9 oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
430 ml (¾ pint) double cream, plus extra to serve (optional)
¾ tbsp whisky (preferably single malt)
2–3 tsp ground cardamom (about 50–60 cardamom pods, seeds finely ground)
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Setting time 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease a loose-bottomed 20 cm (8 in) round cake tin with butter. In a small pan, melt the rest of the butter over a gentle heat and set aside.
Pour about 5 cm (2 in) of water into a separate pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Place the sugar in a metal bowl and sit it on the pan of just-boiled water, checking that the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Break the eggs into the bowl, and with an electric hand mixer beat the mixture over the simmering water for 1–3 minutes, until it becomes pale and frothy. Remove the metal bowl from the heat and continue to beat the mixture for a further 2 minutes while it cools.
Gently stir in the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. With a metal spoon, carefully fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder. Slowly trickle in the melted butter and continue to combine gently.
Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 10–12 minutes or until the centre is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool a little in the tin. Drizzle the whisky over the sponge and set aside to cool completely in the tin.
To make the honeycomb, line a 20 cm (8 in) square cake tin with baking parchment. In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the golden syrup and sugar together and bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for 5–10 minutes. The mixture will bubble and darken to a golden caramel. Mind that the mixture doesn’t burn; to test if the caramel is ready, drop a little into some cold water – it should become instantly hard and brittle.
Stir in the cardamom and remove the pan from heat. Immediately – but carefully – add the bicarbonate of soda and mix it in; the mixture will instantly foam up significantly, which is why a large pan is needed to prepare the syrup. Pour immediately into the cake tin. Leave to set for at least an hour, then break into bite-sized chunks. The honeycomb will stay crisp in a dry, airtight container for a day or two, but will gradually soften over time.
To make the chocolate torte, put the chopped chocolate into a large heatproof bowl and set aside. In a bowl, lightly whip together the double cream and whisky until soft peaks form.
Pour 200 ml (7 fl oz) water into a pan, add the ground cardamom and sugar, and bring to the boil, stirring. When just boiling remove from the heat and cool for 30 seconds. Pour through a very fine strainer over the chocolate, stirring continuously to form a smooth glossy mixture. Discard the contents of the strainer.
Fold the lightly whipped cream into the chocolate mixture; the mix will start to stiffen. Spoon the mixture over the cold sponge right to the edges of the cake tin, and smooth level. The sponge will have shrunk away from the sides of the tin, so the torte will completely encase the sponge. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight if possible.
To serve, uncover the tin and push out the torte by loosening the base and moving onto a plate. Decorate with honeycomb. Cut into slices (for a smooth, professional finish, use a knife dipped in boiling water). Decorate each slice with more pieces of honeycomb and serve with more double cream, if you like.
Recipe from The Incredible Spice Men by Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh (BBC Books, $49.99, hbk, available here)
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