the ultimate Easter chocolate cake (for Netty)

I have been in two minds about posting this uber-chocolatey cake recipe. I made it this week for my dear friend whose birthday had slipped by without a blip – so silently that it seemed outrageous for such a darling woman to be unacknowledged. Sooooo – I wanted to do a chokky cake as an Easter recipe for the blog and thought this was the perfect opportunity to attend to the birthday situation. I made the cake, which is three tiers layered with chocolate mousse and then slathered in ganache, topped it with the chocolate hazelnuts and also candles, and dropped it around to her place the next day with a posy of flowers. Excellent. Except there was no way on earth I was going to cut into her cake to photograph it so right in this moment I can not show you the inside! I am however going to be re-making this monster to take to Waiheke for Easter, so I will be able to show you the inside then – and in the meantime perhaps if you could just trust me (as I am trusting Netty – short for Jeanette) that it’s layers were still layerey and behaving themselves, and that it was (she says) delicious. Netty is a very accomplished lawyer and I am trusting her not to lie to me, even for my own ego’s sake. As you might be able to see a bit of the mousse squeaked out between the layers while I was putting on the ganache, so got a little incorporated in the side ganache – is that optimal? No. Is it the end of the world? Also no. I figure it still looked pretty damned delicious, and it took the pressure off aiming for perfection in a way. Right well that has been a lot of words as an intro to a cake, so lets get down to business…follow me…..

2 tbsp instant espresso coffee granules
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup hazlenut liqueur
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup natural yoghurt
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup rice bran oil

Milk and dark chocolate mousse filling:
200g milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks
200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
200ml cream
2 x gelatine leaves (equivalent to 4 grams of powder)
2 tbsp hazelnut liqueur

2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

Chocolate Ganache:
200g 50-70% dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
200ml cream

1 cup chocolate hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 170˚C ( 340˚F) and line the base and sides of a 23cm removable base cake tin with baking paper. Mix the instant coffee with the boiling water and liqueur and put to one side. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a big mixer. In a separate jug/bowl mix eggs, yoghurt, cream and oil with coffee. Plop the whole lot into the dry ingredients and beat briefly to combine. Slop (it is quite wet) it all into the cake tin and bake for 60-65 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. This is my adaptation of a classic cake recipe which has been around for a long time in various forms from New Zealand (and overseas) cooks like Annabel Langbein and Chelsea Winter…this is my version 🙂 Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Refrigerate while you prepare the mousse bit.

Put the cream in a microwave proof bowl and heat until almost boiling. While it is heating pop the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water. Add chocolate to cream and leave to sit for a minute before whisking – if it isn’t yet smooth, give it a few 20 second blats in the microwave, whisking in between, until smooth. Remove gelatine sheets from water, squeeze out excess and add to chocolate cream with liqueur and whisk until smooth. Whisk egg whites until firm then fold into chocolate mix until it is a big sloppy bowl of liquid chocolate mousse. Chill in the fridge for an hour. Remove cake from the tin, trim the top so that it is level and carefully slice the cake into three tiers. Re-line the cake tin with fresh baking paper, and put your cake base layer back in. Plop half of the moussey mix on top and bung in the freezer for 20 minutes. Next put the top layer into the cake tin on top of the first layer of mousse and plop all of the rest of the mousse on top. Bung back in the freezer for half an hour then put the top (was the middle) layer on the top. Put the whole thing in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Now melt the ganache chocolate into the cream as you did for the mousse, and whisk until smooth. Chill for at least an hour until it is thick enough to spread. You can either pour it on top of the cake while it is in the tin and let it set before removing the whole thing, or do as I did, take the cake out of the tin (carefully and gently obviously) and put it on your serving plate or board before topping with ganache and using a spatula or flat knife to smooth around the sides. Top with chocolate hazelnuts and refrigerate until serving. I figure this can be made the day before ( I will be at Easter) and refrigerated until 15 minutes before serving. This is a big rich ole beast of a cake and should easily serve at least 10.

PS – I usually only cook with dark chocolate and occasionally white, but in this instance wanted to make a cake that was dark and not too sweet, with a full-on rich, sweeter Easter-ey milk chocolate filling…the bits of cake that I cut off the top did taste pretty spectacular with the little bit of mousse I scraped out of the bowl, so I’m pretty sure it was a success!


  1. This is so lovely, I think perhaps I will try this for Easter at my house. No one seems to like the store bought chocolate bunnies anymore.

    1. HI Sherry – it's the same in our house – the boys are 17 and 19 years old and a bit past mounds of Easter eggs! (Well one is…) 🙂

    1. You are very welcome, and your version looks fantastic. Thanks so much for your lovely comments, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 Sarah

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