This is a really simple but effective way to make a chocolate cake just that little bit more chocolatey... by covering it in chocolates. I've seen a few versions of this cake around, and quite fancied giving it a try myself.
I used a mocha cake recipe that I got from my mum years and years ago, but you could make the same design from any basic cake - a firm texture is best, though.
I also used thin cake-board card to make the sides of the box. If I'd had a little more time to colour and roll the icing, I might have done it all in sugarpaste, but I was in a bit of a rush and just wanted something that looked good, quickly.
Chocolate Box Cake Recipe
For the cake:
200g (8oz) plain flour
100g (4oz) cocoa powder
100g (4oz) caster sugar
1½tbsp baking powder
290ml (½ pint) hot water
2tbsp instant coffee granules
1tbsp molasses or black treacle
100ml (7tbsp) sunflower oil
1tbsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
100g (4oz) butter
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
200g (8oz) icing sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
350g golden marzipan
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line an 18cm (7in) square cake tin.
- Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, and baking powder for the cake.
- Dissolve the coffee granules and molasses in the hot water.
- Add to the flour, along with the oil and vanilla, and stir until no dry patches remain.
- Pour the cake mix into the tin, and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the tin and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
- Once the cake is completely cold, you're ready to decorate it.
- Slice the cake in half with a sharp knife, and optionally also slice a little off the top to flatten the surface. It's not necessary to have any special equipment for slicing cakes, but do keep the knife blade parallel to the worktop, and you have to be a bit bold with the cuts or you may just end up with the knife stuck in the middle.
- Make the buttercream by first softening the butter to room temperature, and beating with an electric whisk.
- Gradually fold in the icing sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla.
- Once the icing is folded in, beat the mixture until light and fluffy.
- Spread half of the buttercream onto the bottom half of the cake, smooth it out, and sandwich the top half of the cake back into position.
- Spread the remaining buttercream across the top of the cake, mounding a little in the corners if necessary to create a flatter surface. (I did this in preference to slicing the top of the cake off.)
- Roll about half of the marzipan into a square just slightly larger than your cake, and place on top of the cake.
- Arrange the chocolates in a grid formation.
- Roll four thick sausages of marzipan to make the outer edges of the box. Roll eight thin sausages to create the internal dividers.
- Next, check the height and width measurements of your cake, and cut cardboard pieces to the appropriate size. Tape the cardboard together into a frame which should just lift on and off the cake (to allow for cutting).
- Decorate with a wide ribbon, tied into a bow, and serve.