Posted by: Jason Wood | December 5, 2009

Christmas Cake

‘Tis the season…… for chocolate mud cake. That’s right – wrapped up like a present is a delicious chocolate mud cake. This was SO fun to make (I know, my idea of fun is kind of twisted). I brought this to a potluck and people were reluctant to touch it! HAHA

This post is a little longer than most, but well worth it for the ooh’s and aah’s you will get when you show up with this cake.

First off of course is the cast of characters for what you will need to make the cake (the edible parts, not the decorations!)

Quite the motley assortment, eh?

Now, before we go any further it is important to get your cake pan ready, and this requires a little more work than simply greasing it up. Get a 9-inch pan with straight sides. Liberally grease the sides and bottom. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and stick it to the bottom. Next cut out a long strip of parchment paper to wrap around the inner diameter of the pan, and make sure it is at least 5 cm above the rim of the pan (this is important for later). The butter that you greased the pan with earlier will act as glue for the parchment paper to stick it to the pan. It will look like this

This is honestly the most work that I have EVER put into a pan.

Fill a large saucepan with water and set it to a low boil on the oven and then find a BIG!!!! mixing bowl, and I mean BIG.

Into this BIG mixing bowl put:

840 g (1.85 lbs) dark chocolate

525 g (1.15 lbs) butter

2 tbs dry instant coffee

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (firmly packed)

See why I said you need a BIG bowl?!

Put this bowl on top of the boiling water and start everything melting. CAUTION – USE AN OVEN MITT, OK? the bowl will get HOT!! I know common sense, right? Sadly though common sense is sadly lacking today… so USE AN OVEN MITT!! ‘Nuff said?  :  )

Chocolate soup anyone?

How about cream of chocolate soup?

Mmmmmm! Spoon! I need a spoon!

At this point you can pre-heat your oven to 325. Unless you have a HUGE oven you will likely need to remove the top rack of the oven and use the bottom rack because of the paper sticking up out of the pan.

Now move this off the stovetop and onto the counter and slowly stir in 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 4 eggs and 1/2 cup of chocolate liqueur. Now, this bowl is HEAVY by now, so carefully lift it up (I can hear my father in the background LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS, NOT YOUR BACK!) and pour it into your pan, being careful of the paper sides sticking up. Scrape as much from the bowl as you can (but leave some to taste, the sign of a good chef)

Put this in the oven and leave it for…… 3 hours. yes, you heard correct, THREE HOURS. Hopefully you have left yourself lots to do around the house because you need to leave it to cool as well, so you are looking at around 5 – 6 hours before the next step. Have fun…

insert Jeopardy music here….

and now through the magic of time lapse…

A few things to notice here. Just above the rim of the pan there is a darker line. See it? That is not a shadow but the cake. This is why you need to have the parchment paper extend over the rim of the cake. It will settle down a little as it cools. Also, the cracks are normal, so don’t freak out, it is not a cheesecake. Leave the cake in the pan to cool.

Once the cake is cool you can use a cake leveler to level the cake to the top of the pan and then flip the cake out onto a rack to continue cooling (and for the next step)

This is a Christmas cake so we need to turn this into a wreath. Find a small bowl or plate and use it to mark the section that you will carve out of the middle of the cake

Use a knife to cut down around the sides of your template. I had to carve an “X” into the section and scoop it out, not exactly a clean and neat operation.

Lots of bits and pieces to snack on now while you keep working.

While the cake is cooling you can make the fluffy white icing for the snow to coat your wreath. The cool thing about making this icing is that I got to use my brand new candy thermometer! Small things, I know.

You need 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 egg whites.

In a small sauce pan mix the water and sugar together and put on heat until it boils. Boil the mix until it hits 116 degrees C

Remove from heat and cool until the bubbles disappear. Meanwhile in a medium bowl beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then, in a steady stream, pour the hot sugar into the eggs while continuing to beat with the mixer. Beat for about ten minutes until the mixture cools and becomes firm.

The next step is really important to prevent everything from sliding off the top of the cake. Brush the entire top surface of the cake with a sugar syrup. You can get this at any craft or baking supply store. It acts like a glue that holds the layer of fondant icing in place.

And speaking of fondant….

You can make your own but it is a right pain in the rear, so just as easy to buy it pre-made from the same store that you bought the sugar syrup. Roll the fondant out and carefully place it over the top of the cake and cut out the ring in the center.

Then carefully spoon the white fluffy icing over top and all around the top. The white fluffy icing is really sticky so be careful to try and avoid dripping it over the sides (inside and out).

The next step is to prepare the wrapping for the cake. Choose a deep color velvet ribbon, 2.5 inches wide. This is where the arts and crafts portion starts.

Packing tape you may ask? Why? It will prevent the moisture in the cake from soaking through and staining the ribbon. This part is a lot easier if it is done with two people but it can be done alone.


This is where you use the math skills that you asked yourself while sitting in math class “am I ever going to use this in real life”

To figure out how long you need the ribbon you need to figure out the circumference of the cake. The formula for this is C = pi x diameter. Nothing better than getting to use “pi” in a blog about baking! So, C = 3.14 x 9. This equals approximately 28.3 inches. Line the back of ribbon with packing tape

Leave a little bit of the sticky end of the tape hanging off one end so that the ends can be taped together to hold the ribbon together. Carefully wrap it around the cake, being especially careful with the fluffy white icing.

It wipes off the dish easy (see the smudge) but not off the ribbon, so be careful.

For the final step I bought a length of garland from a craft store and some other decorations. I used a pair of scissors to trim it down to manageable lengths and then placed it over the top.

And for those people who want to know what the cake itself looks like

This cake is REALLY rich, so you will likely have to give a lot of it away at the end of the party.




  1. Which potluck was it? Why wasn’t I invited?

    This is a gorgeous cake! But SO much work. I think I’d rather have a friend who bakes these than to bake one myself!

    So – do they ship well? I wonder what the duty would be on one?

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