Walnut & Mocha Fancies

These are not quite those wonderful fancies using fondant icing (although fondant icing does work well here) but my take using a ganache coating and a little coffee glaze for richness, an additional coffee hit and a shiny finish.

Coffee, chocolate and walnut are my favourite combination here but the variations are endless.

These fancies can be made as large or as small but I think they are at their most glorious when made small.

Ringing the changes:

I have sometimes made up some caramelised walnuts, crushed them and added a small handful to the coffee buttercream filling. Some of the caramelised walnuts sprinkled over the top the cake once the glaze has been poured over them adds a nice finish, although these are best eaten on the day as the caramel softens.

A zesty lemon sponge with a tangy lemon buttercream and white chocolate ganache is another favourite of mine.

Walnut and mocha fancies (makes 24)


  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g softened unsalted butter
  • 40g chopped walnuts
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in a tablespoon of hot water.

Coffee buttercream:

  • 150g very soft unsalted butter
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm milk

Chocolate ganache icing:

  • 200g good quality plain chocolate (70% solids)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons liquid glucose
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • walnut halves
  • melted milk chocolate

Coffee syrup glaze :

  • 1 teaspoon coffee granules dissolved in 100ml hot water
  • 30g caster sugar

(1) Make the cake: mix all the cake ingredients together until well combined and divide the mixture into a large shallow rectangular tin (about 30cm by 15cm), lined with greaseproof or into mini loaf tins. Bake in an oven preheated to 160C for 15-20 minutes until just firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins.

(2) Make the buttercream: beat together the butter, icing sugar and cooled coffee liquid until very smooth and creamy.

(3) Cut the cake and cover with buttercream: turn out the cake and cut into cubes (or cylinders): if using the mini loaf tins, cut each in half. You can cut the tops off if they are not flat. Spread a thin coating of the buttercream over each side of the cakes apart from the base: don’t worry about making them perfectly smooth. Place them back on a cooling rack and chill them until you are ready to glaze them. Alternatively, they can be frozen at this stage and glazed from frozen later.

(5) Make the ganache icing: put the dark chocolate, butter, liquid glucose and sea salt in a bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Leave it for about 10 minutes, stirring occasioanlly. Once the butter and chocolate have melted mix well, remove from the heat and leave to cool until just starting to thicken.

(6) Make the coffee syrup glaze: boil the coffee, water and sugar until thick and syrupy. Leave to cool.

(7) Glaze the cakes: remove the cakes from the fridge (or freezer) and place a sheet of greaseproof under the wire racks to catch the drips. Spoon the glaze over the cakes, making sure it coats the top and the sides. Alternatively, pop a cake onto a large spoon in one hand, and hover it over the bowl containing the glaze. With the other hand use another spoon to scoop out some of the glaze, pour it all over the cake. Using a flat-bladed knife, lift the glazed cake carefully back onto the wire rack. I find the latter method more effective as it is easier to coat all of the sides and most of the excess glaze goes straight back into the bowl of glaze.

(8) Decorate the cakes: top each cake with a walnut half and leave until the chocolate glaze has set. Drizzle over melted milk chocolate and leave to set. Brush over a little coffee syrup over the tops, if using.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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