“Death by chocolate” drip cake

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Moist chocolate sponge, white chocolate & vanilla buttercream and dark chocolate with salted caramel ganache combine to give a somewhat naughty chocolate cake: but then a chocolate cake that is not naughty is rarely worth having!

About the recipe

I adapted a plain sponge recipe that came with some new tins I had bought for another cake, adding both cocoa powder and chocolate pieces to the mixture for added chocolatey kick but without making the cake at all dense. In fact this cake is very moist, it has an open texture and it melts in the mouth.

This particular drip is a ganache made dark chocolate and hot milk, rather than cream. Purely as I had no cream left! But full-fat milk works very well indeed and still tastes suitable indulgent: as it should. I added a touch of salted caramel to the ganache to liven it up even further.

I decorated the top of the cake with white chocolate leaves and some crisp chocolate strands.

For other decorative ideas and general cake making pointers and recipes, please dive into my post here.

Buttercream tip

Many recipes call for twice the amount of icing sugar to butter, but I find they are not only too sweet (for me at any rate!) but they can be grainy if the icing sugar has not fully dissolved or it hasn’t been beaten for long enough.

So, whenever I make a standard buttercream I use between half as much icing sugar to butter and the same weight of butter to icing sugar. This way you always get a much softer, creamier, much more melt-in-the-mouth finish.

Chocolate leaves – simplicity itself

The chocolate leaves are simply leaves from the garden (I used lemon balm!), with one surface brushed very lightly with oil before having that surface dipped into melted chocolate. I used white chocolate here.

These then get placed on baking parchment and are left to set in the fridge. The leaves then peel off easily. They are great as they are or they can be brushed with edible gold or silver lustre

Chocolate strands: a new favourite of mine!

I added some crisp chocolate strands to the top of the cake purely because they are fun to make and are slightly different.

This is simply melted, ideally tempered, chocolate (any type: I used a mixture of milk and white) drizzled from a piping bag (narrow nozzle) into ice cold water – and it has to be ice cold: just get a tall jug or other container, add water and lots of ice cubes, before scooping the ice cubes out once the water has gone very cold.

The chocolate sets immediately into random squiggly strands and you then simply pour off the water and place the chocolate strands on kitchen paper to absorb any excess water.

The strands will keep for ages in an airtight container in the fridge.

I have done similar chocolate strands by using vodka poured straight out of its bottle from the freezer: also perfect!! And you then pour the vodka back into the bottle so there is no wastage.

Recipe: “Death by chocolate” drip cake

For the cake:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 80g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 280g golden caster sugar
  • 250ml milk (semi-skimmed or full-fat)
  • 70g dark chocolate, chopped into very small pieces or blitzed in a food processor until fairly fine
  • a generous pinch of fine sea salt

White chocolate buttercream

  • 200g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons salted caramel*

Milk ganache drip

  • 120ml full-fat milk
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons salted caramel*

*you can make salted caramel (recipe here or stir about 1 teaspoon fine sea salt into 150g bought caramel)

(1) Preheat the oven to 170C(fan). Grease and base-line two 7″ sandwich tins with greaseproof paper.

(2) Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar, chocolate, salt and butter and mix together to give a fairly coarse mixture: it will resemble chocolatey sand!

(3) Add the eggs and the milk and beat well for up to a minute to give a thick batter.

(4) Pour into tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes until well risen and just pulling away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tins and remove the them carefully, peeling off the greaseproof,

(5) Make the buttercream by beating the butter and icing sugar together for several minutes before beating in the cooled chocolate. Beat or whisk for a few minutes until very smooth, light and almost mousse-like.

(6) Sandwich the cake together with some of the buttercream and a drizzle of salted caramel. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of and around the cake. You can go smoothly or run a small knife around to give a patterned effect. Chill until ready to make the ganache.

(7) Make the ganache: put the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the milk until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes. Pour over the chocolate and leave for a minute or two. Add the salted caramel and stir until smooth. Leave to cool and become thicker (it should have a gentle wobble to it and slowly pour off a spoon rather than run off easily)

(8) Pour most of the cooled ganache over the top of the cake, spreading it gently to just cover the top. Gently push up to teaspoon of ganache at a time over the edge at various points: these will slowly run down the side and form the drips. A smaller amount will give shorter drips.

NB: a gentle shake of the plate will get the chocolate perfectly smooth if that is the effect you want, or else leave it fairly rough.

(9) Decorate further however you like – or even leave it just as it is. Leave to set before cutting and enjoying.

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.

4 thoughts on ““Death by chocolate” drip cake”

  1. OMG! Can I be your student? I promise to do all the dishes, and to do my best to not mess up… too much. I do have a problem with all things cake, but … WOW. Of all the cakes you’ve made, this might be my favorite – I browsed through quite a few over the time I got to know your blog, but this one… this one is a dream!


  2. Thanks so much for linking this to First Monday Favorites. I have to agree with you on the buttercream. Most of the time the American way of making buttercream is too sweet for me. Which is why I make a ‘faux’ buttercream. This cake looks so good, and I’m totally going to steal your method of making chocolate strands for my next cake. I bake, decorate and donate a cake every couple of weeks to a local fundraiser. And I was planning on a chocolate cake this week anyways. Guess how I’m decorating the top.


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