Utterly indulgent, this Julie Le Clerc cake is chocolate-forward and showcases the premium taste of Valrhona cocoa - intense, finely ground, bittersweet pressed cocoa of the highest quality. Spreading raspberry jam between the cake's layers transforms the flavour profile, bringing a delicate sweetness to the palate. For the ganache, Julie uses Valrhona's guanaja - an exceptional bitter chocolate, its flavour, heightened by floral notes, has a powerful lingering intensity, and utilising a water ganache ensures that this spectacular chocolate is undeniably the hero. Enjoy! 

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp Pons Moscatel vinegar
2 cups Girolomoni organic ‘00’ flour
¾ cup Valrhona cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Sal de Añana spring salt
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
½ cup Pons extra virgin olive oil
⅔ cup unsweetened apple purée
1 tsp Heilala vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
230g jar Alain Milliat raspberry jam
Fresh-As freeze dried strawberries or raspberries, to decorate

Water ganache:
150g Valrhona guanaja chocolate fèves
60ml boiling water
2 Tbsp Escuminac great harvest maple syrup
1 tsp Heilala vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180˚ C. Spray two 20cm cake tins with oil and line bases with circles of non-stick baking paper, cut to fit. Place almond milk into a small bowl, add the vinegar, stir slightly and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Now add the oil, apple puree, vanilla and almond milk / vinegar mixture. Mix on low speed with a hand mixer until combined. Now, carefully pour in the boiling water, continuing to mix on low just until fully combined (expect the batter to be very runny at this point). Divide the cake batter evenly between the two cake tins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Remove to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove the tins and leave cakes to cool completely before icing. To sandwich cakes together, spread the raspberry jam over the top of one cake and place the second cake on top.

To make the water ganache, place the chocolate fèves in a heatproof bowl. Pour over the boiling water. Either microwave for 20 seconds on high, or place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water for 1-2 minutes, to melt the chocolate. Gently stir together with a whisk until combined and smooth. Now stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 20-30 minutes until ganache thickens to a spreadable consistency then spread ganache over the top of the cake. Decorate with freeze-dried fruit.

Note: if ganache sets fully, then gently reheat to soften again, stirring until smooth. Any leftover ganache can be stored in the fridge then gently re-melted and used as a hot chocolate sauce, if desired.

Recipe by Julie Le Clerc



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