Nicky Cahill: Easter Chocolate Cake and Pavlova

Easter is just around the corner, and for those of you who have had a chocolate free lent – I’ve been there done that, and got the teeshirt – what you need on Easter Sunday are some great chocolate recipes because after weeks of absence there is nothing like a chocolate blowout.

I am sharing two chocolate cake recipes, one suitable as an Easter table centrepiece decorated with mini eggs, and filled with bright pink raspberry mouse when cut open, the other vegan and equally as delicious.

This chocolate cake is without doubt the best chocolate cake you will ever make, and once you have made it, it will become your chocolate cake staple. It’s crumb is rich and moist, with an intense chocolate hit, and the beauty of this recipe is that its just off being everything into one bowl and mix. The secret to this cake is the buttermilk.

Make the cake let it cool completely – overnight is preferable, then cut into three using a serrated knife, and layer with raspberry mouse, then cover in chocolate ganache. There are a few steps to this recipe but it is worth the effort, especially for Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!

IMG_7323.JPGEaster Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Mousse


• 8oz light brown sugar
• 7 ½ oz golden caster sugar
• 9oz salted butter softened
• 12 oz self-raising flour
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 4 large free range eggs
• 9 fl oz buttermilk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 5 tablespoons Cocoa Powder


1. Grease a 12” circular springform tin / or small aga roasting tin / or 8×12” cake tin / Aga top oven on rack, cold shelf two rungs above top of tin – Gas Mark 4 / 180’C / 350’F (I made this using a Kitchen Aid, with paddle attachment)
2. Cream – butter and sugar for two minutes on high
3. Add – eggs, and continue beating for about one minute
4. Add – all other ingredients
5. Beat for 9 minutes
6. Pour into a tin and bake for (30 minutes Aga) – or 40-45 minutes other ovens
7. A skewer should come out clean
8. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, before placing on a wire rack
9. Once completely cool slice into three, then layer with the raspberry mousse


IMG_7318.JPGRaspberry Mousse

• 3 gelatine leaves
• 1lb raspberries
• 2oz icing sugar
• 2 tbsp caster sugar
• ½ lemon, zest only
• 6fl oz double cream, whipped


1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes, or until softened.
2. Heat the raspberries in a pan with the caster and icing sugar for 2-3 minutes
3. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan, and stir continually until it is dissolved
4. Push through a sieve to remove the seeds, then blend to a smooth puree, leave to cool for 10 minutes and fold in the lemon zest and cream
5. Layer the mousse and chocolate cake, leave to chill overnight in the fridge, then cover with chocolate ganache.

IMG_7322.JPGChocolate Ganache


• 150g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
• 1/2 cup double cream
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules


1. In a bowl over simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water) bring the cream to the boil, then add the chocolate pieces and instant coffee (My Uncle was a French Patisserie Chef and he always recommended adding a tiny bit of coffee to chocolate to bring out the flavour)
2. Stir until melted and smooth
3. Take off the heat and stirring occasionally allow to thicken (5-7 minutes) then pour and swirl over your cake, decorate with mini eggs

Some thoughts on Chocolate Ganache

The basic recipe is the same but if you want a light thin glossy topping for your cake, once the chocolate has melted into the cream, allow to cool slightly, then pour immediately over the cake.

For a thicker icing for spreading and swirling allow to cool for 5-10 minutes stirring every few minutes until the icing thickens and it can be spread across the cake

Cool the melted chocolate and cream stirring occasionally until it is cold, the mixture will be firm, whisk it bristly for 15 seconds or so, and pipe onto the cake

IMG_7339.JPGBroigther Gold Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake has a really rich soft moist crumb.


• 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
• 1 cup cocoa powder
• 1tsp instant coffee granules
• 1 cup white granulated sugar
• pinch of salt
• 5 generous tablespoons rapeseed oil (I love Broighter gold)
• 1 1/2 cups cold water
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• teaspoons vanilla
• 1 tbsp cider vinegar
• Icing sugar to dust


Grease an 8” square tin – Aga top oven on rack, cold shelf two rungs above top of tin – Gas Mark 4 / 180’C / 350’F

1. Mix the dry ingredients well
2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, add all the wet ingredients and mix on high for three – five minutes until well combined with no lumps.
3. Bake until a skewer comes out clean 25 – 30 minutes
4. Cool then sift icing sugar over the top or serve with a vegan cream cheese frosting – lightly combine vegan cream cheese and cocoa powder then serve with coloured sprinkles

If all that chocolate has just got way to much for you, you could make a lemon cheesecake

or these wee buns are brilliant to make with children over the Easter Holidays.

One of my favourite puddings of all time, that frequently makes an appearance on my table is Pavlova. It is so easy it literally requires you to whisk it up then put in a warm oven for a few hours. Let it cool add some cream & fruit a sprinkling of chocolate & your done.

IMG_7317.JPGPavlova recipe


• 3 egg whites
• 6oz golden caster sugar (I use vanilla caster sugar that I’ve made by adding vanilla pods to caster sugar in a jar)
• 1tsp white vinegar
• 1tsp cornflour
• 2tsp vanilla extract

Oven 170′ Aga floor on bottom oven, 150C/130C fan/gas 2
You can place the pavlova on a lightly oiled baking sheet before cooking on a silicon mat or I find using a lined pizza tray or stone works well.


1. Whisk egg whites slowly in a grease free bowl (glass or metal are best, not plastic) in an electric mixer or with an electric hand mixer, use a high sided bowl, until very firm. You should be able to hold bowl upside down & nothing drops out

2. Mix in 3/4 sugar on low speed, adding only a little at a time. The mixer should look really glossy.

3. Fold in the rest of the sugar using a figure of eight motion

4. Add the vanilla, sieved cornflour & vinegar fold in slowly

5. Place mixture on prepared tray in a circle make an indent in the middle

6. Cook for up to 2 hours until mixture is firm & bottom cooked through in an aga leave for another 30 minutes, in regular ovens, turn off the oven after two hours and leave to cool in the oven with the door closed

7. When cooled add whipped double cream (only use a tiny pot, as you want the dominant tastes to be pavlova & fruit, not the cream) & fruit of your choice. In this Pavlova pictured I have used late early summer raspberries, pomegranate seeds and grated dark chocolate.


This month I am eating at Ox Belfast – exquisite, Allain and Stevie have created one of the most beautiful dining and eating experiences in Ireland

and enjoying lunch and Falafel wraps at Falafel Botanic – their Baklava is really good

Reading – Walking in the Pastures of Wonder conversations with John O’Donohue

Drinking – Writers Tears Irish Whiskey

By Nicky Cahill

If anyone has any food related questions or ideas for products they’d like Nicky to try, do get in touch.

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Post Author: Belfast Times

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