Chocolate Cake with Rich Chocolate Icing

To put another chocolate cake recipe out there seems as necessary as designing another chair! There are many, do we need more? In both cases I’d say yes. So, here is another chocolate cake recipe. Don’t watch this space for a chair design but whilst I’m on the subject this is one of my latest favourites: Maritime S by Benjamin Hubert. Not long ago I went to an evening of vice and virtue at Hampton Court Palace put on by The Idler Academy, coinciding with the exhibition of portraits from Charles II’s court and his mistresses. At one point during the talk we were asked to sit in silence and when a vice like thought popped into our heads we had to put our hands up. Well, within a few moments I was thinking about chocolate cake. Surprise surprise. But my hand hesitated, a vice or a virtue? I think if I were to make a chocolate cake every day and eat it all then it would count as a vice but if I shared it or in fact gave it away, surely that would be a virtue?

To get the chocolate bomb shape I made two cakes – one smaller than the other and put them on top of each other with a spread of icing between them and lashings of icing all over them.

What you need for the cake:

200g butter (softened)

120g soft brown sugar

50g cocoa powder

3 teaspoons coffee granules

3 dessert spoons boiling water

5 eggs

50g dark chocolate, grated

240g self-raising flour

What you need for the icing:

150g dark chocolate (80% cocoa is good)

150ml cream

30g butter

150g icing sugar

4 dessert spoons golden syrup

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C and grease the cake tins with butter or some sunflower oil on a piece of kitchen paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a fork in a large bowl.

3. Put the cocoa powder and coffee granules in a mug, pour the boiling water over them and mix well.

4. Scoop this cocoa coffee paste into the bowl with the butter and sugar mixture and mix it in well.

5. Crack the eggs in and beat them in one at a time.

6. Pour the grated chocolate into the bowl and mix it in well.

7. Add the self-raising flour 40g at a time beating it in well each time, allowing lots of air to be beaten into the mixture.

8. Pour the sponge mixture into the two cake tins.

9. Put them in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Insert a skewer to check that they are ready, it should come out clean.

10. Whilst the cake is baking you can make the icing.

11. Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl sitting on a pan of boiling water (but not touching the water).

12. Allow the chocolate to cool a little then stir in the cream, butter and golden syrup.

13. Then stir the icing sugar in.

14. When the cakes are ready and have cooled place the larger of the two on a plate and spread some icing on top, then place the smaller one on the centre of it and spread the rest of the icing all over it.

15. Sprinkle sugar balls or strands on top for a bit of colour.

Share with friends to feel as virtuous as you can when eating cake!


Exmouth Coffee Company, Whitechapel




Right next door to the Whitechapel art gallery is Exmouth Coffee Company. I recently went there to meet friends and loved it. There are so many independent coffee shops opening up! When will it end?! I’m not complaining, I love these places and am relieved that there are so many around now that it is easy to avoid chain coffee shops which I don’t rate at all. The interior of this dinky place (by SCID) is just how I like it – a mixture of surface textures, contrasting tiles next to bare brickwork, classic black and white hexagonal tiled flooring, wrought iron table stands with wooden tops and an open kitchen at the back with staff carrying plates of scrumptious looking paninis, muffins and quiches past. My friends must have thought me so rude, I barely made eye contact with them while we were talking because of all the colourful tasty temptations being wafted in front of me as they headed to the food counter. The food is displayed beautifully on rough edged slate plates propped on logs. I had a latte and a quiche – both delish. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere relaxed but efficient.

You can find the Exmouth Coffee Company at 83 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX.

Propstore, National Theatre cafe, South Bank



The South Bank is one of my favourite parts of London. Whenever friends visit from abroad I take them for a walk along the river from Borough Market to the collection of cultural hotspots that are the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery. At the moment there are lots of new additions to the area with a Wahaca housed in containers on a concrete level between the Hayward and Royal Festival Hall, an oversized sandpit with rainbow coloured sand by the water and some enormous technicolor fabric sculptures. The National Theatre has set up a great cafe, Propstore, built from parts of sets and scenery and full of props. The sides of the cafe are made from set walls with a transparent covering stretched between them for a roof. The bar has set plans and elevations arranged under the glass and everywhere you look there is a prop from part of a snooker table to an army rucksack, a bicycle, a typewriter and even severed limbs from Frankenstein. All the props have brown paper tags hanging from them labelling which production they are from. There are lights suspended from fragments of mirrors stuck to the roof. It’s such a great idea to reuse relics from productions to make a  quirkily dishevelled but charming spot for a riverfront drink, meal or coffee.

Propstore is open Monday to Thursday from noon to 11pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 2am and on Sunday from noon to 6pm.

Truly Iced Coffee/ Ice Cups

I have a fabulous set of moulds which I have talked about before. The mini cakes I’ve been making recently are from a blue silicon one. I have a fun orange one which is advertised as an ice shot glass mould! I decided to make ice cups but to fill them with cold brewed coffee for a truly iced coffee. Could there be a more iced coffee? If the cup was big enough to fit ice in too, then yes, I think so!
If it’s a very summery day, you need to drink these quite fast unless you want your cup to melt in the sun! They are shots, after all!

Food Lab, Essex Road

  Today I went to Food Lab on Essex Road, Islington, for brunch. I’ve blogged about Essex Road before, with its wonderful array of shops with whacky names, and this is a great pit stop for food. Outside amongst the pub tables there’s a pallet with soil and a few glass domes with strawberry plants steaming away under the long awaited sun. Inside is a spread of moist polenta, chocolate and fruity cakes and muffins, breads, savoury tarts and quiches. This spread, that could almost rival Ottolenghi’s, made it hard to decide but in the end I went for Eggs Royale and my buddy went for poached eggs with red onion focaccia soldiers. Both delicious but for the price a bit of greenery would have been welcome. You can buy food there too such as jams and even pickled sugar snap peas! Hmmm, I am intrigued by the peas. Food Lab is just 5 minutes walk from the popular brunch places in Camden Passage, such as The Breakfast Club and Kipferl which have queues for hours, so I highly recommend waltzing past the queues and going a few minutes up the road to Food Lab.


Towpath café, Regents Canal, London

  Along Regents Canal between the Whitmore Road bridge and Kingsland Road bridge in Hackney is Towpath, a café that is open from April to September. I think the months that it opens and closes vary upon the weather but it’s a “warm” season café as it is outdoors. It consists of a few small spaces carved out of the building facing the canal with tables outside and in a little niche making perfect spots for people and swan viewing. I saw a guy pass standing on a surf board using an oar to smoothly glide along the water. I have no idea what this sport is called! Canal surfing? Flat water surfing? On busy weekends a pontoon is stationed on the canal providing more tables and chairs. It serves coffee, cakes, toasted sandwiches and seasonal dishes. It was set up by Lori de Mori, an American Italian food writer. So far I have only had coffees, brownies and millionaire’s shortbread which all get a thumbs up. It is an ideal stop on a canal walk along to Broadway Market or Columbia Road.

Be aware though that at weekends it is harry packers, I went for a run along the canal on Sunday and thought I would end up in it wriggling my way through the heaving pack of coffee drinkers.


Iced Espresso and Coconut Drink


The other day I was looking at Green Kitchen Stories and saw a recipe for a coffee coconut banana shake. It sounded delicious and inspired me to make a similar drink using what I already had in the kitchen so I made a tea peanut plantain drink. Only joking, but of course you already knew that from the title of this post! The Green Kitchen Stories recipe calls for hazelnut butter for a nutty hint, mmm, but I had tahini. It sounds odd but actually the tahini was a nice addition. I did have bananas but opted to omit them. The drink does has an unusual taste but I think it’s a good break from regular coffee.

What you need (serves 3-4):

1 tin of coconut milk

3 shots of espresso

1 tsp tahini

1 dessert spoon vanilla essence

6 ice cubes

What you need to do:

1. Make the espresso, then allow it to cool.

2. Pour the coconut milk into a jug, add the tahini, vanilla essence and ice cubes and stir. Make sure you stir the tahini in well.

3. Pour this mix into glasses and then pour the espresso on top making a marbled pattern.