Celebrating my (blog) Birthday with Coconut Milk Chocolate Cake

Today I am celebrating a few major milestones.  One year ago I posted this.  Seth is exactly 6 months old.  And for the first time, today’s cake was photographed by a professional.

It’s hard to believe that 12 months have passed since deciding to publicly document my kitchen forays, while simultaneously suffering with morning sickness.  In hindsight, I think only a person not of sound mind, possessing limited writing or photographic ability, would undertake such an endeavour.  And I have not looked back.

I wonder, at times, what possessed me to publish my first post in the first week of March.  Within 5 days, my blog, my husband, my oldest son, and my sister all have birthdays.  That is a LOT of cake.  Building Feasts may come first chronologically, but this happens to be the year of “big” birthdays and I did not want to overshadow this weekend's showstopper desserts with a towering extravaganza.

So, for the blog’s 1st birthday I have made my favourite chocolate cake with a secret killer ingredient.  Coconut milk.  This cake is rich, fudgey (and yet somehow not too heavy), totally delicious and dairy free to boot. Even if you are not a coconut lover, do not fear, the flavour is present but not overwhelming.

I stumbled across this late one night while perusing Poires au Chocolat. Sadly Emma, the author, no longer writes her blog.  Her regular posts are sorely missed, but luckily, she has turned her site into a reference book with all her best recipes.  I have adapted her version, and use coconut oil instead of butter and coffee in place of hot water.  I think this make the chocolate sing.

And the coconut milk ganache on the top, is a game changer.  Feel free to make it without the token amount of Karo Syrup (otherwise known as the devil), but it keeps the ganache shiny - helpful as the cake really can keep for a few days.

I always wanted to share this recipe.  Even before I contemplated writing a blog. And this anniversary presented itself as the perfect opportunity.  A special recipe, and a small gesture of gratitude for all the support and encouragement I have received over the past year. Huge thanks to those (you know who you are) who not only inspired me to start Building Feasts, but also cajoled me through the newborn months, proofread and edited posts and talked me through basic photography.  I am amazed (and a little excited) when people say they have read a post or made a recipe.  This has been a monumental year of learning.  Thank you for taking the journey with me.

While we are on the subject of gratitude, I have to thank my truly talented friend and image maker, Jeremy Coleman, for taking today’s magnificent photos.  He has patiently (and painstakingly) talked me through, how to use my camera, understand light and space and willingly divulged his genius photography tips (most of which I have yet to master).

Please, even if you choose not to make this cake immediately, enjoy the images.

Coconut Milk Chocolate Cake Adapted from Poires au Chocolat

Note: this recipe has an added user friendly quality, by using exactly one (400ml) can of coconut milk, so no leftovers hanging around in the fridge. Make sure the coconut milk is well mixed before measuring it out for the cake

Cake: 55g (2oz) dark chocolate

85g (3/4 cup) good quality cocoa powder

180ml (3/4 cup) freshly brewed coffee

145g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

90g (3 1/4 oz) coconut oil (or other flavourless oil, but I love the coconut oil in this cake)

225g (1 cup) caster sugar

50g (1/4 cup) dark muscovado sugar

2 eggs

275ml (1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp) coconut milk

Ganache topping:

125ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk

125g (4 1/4 oz) dark chocolate

1 tsp Karo syrup

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). 

Grease and line 24cm (9 inch) round springform tin with parchment circle. 

Break up the chocolate in to small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with the cocoa powder.

Pour over hot, freshly brewed coffee and whisk until the mixture is smooth. 

Set aside while you get on with the rest of the cake.

Melt the coconut oil In another small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugars and whisk to break up any lumps.

Add the coconut oil and whisk until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time.  After the second egg has been added, whisk for 3 minutes until the mixture has thickened and is pale.

With the mixer on a slow speed add the chocolate mixture and then the coconut milk, scraping down the bowl until it is all incorporated.

Finally add the flour mixture and whisk until it is just incorporated. Don’t panic, the mixture will be quite wet.

Pour into the prepared tin and place in the bottom third of the oven for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the centre with a few damp crumbs (not a liquid mixture).  Be aware that if you test the cake and it is still quite liquid, it may only take another 3-5 minutes to be done, so keep checking).

Place on a cooling rack and cool before removing from the tin.

When you are ready to ice the cake, make the ganache. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl Heat the remaining coconut milk and Karo Syrup (if using) until it just comes to the boil and  pour over the chocolate.

Leave for 2 minutes and then stir until it is a smooth and shiny.  Allow to rest and cool a little for 10 minutes before pouring onto the cake.

Garnish with toasted coconut, sprinkles, or whatever else takes your fancy

Note: if you want to whip this into more of a buttercream consistency for a celebration cake, stir warm coconut milk and chocolate together until smooth and cover with cling film.  Allow to cool completely and set.  Whisk in an electric mixture on high speed until fluffy.