Let's talk about CHOCOLATE. It is that time of the year.. it is Easter! By now all diets should have vanished into thin air or at least, we are now probably all allowed a break from them for the Easter holidays.
My children are waiting for their Italian Easter eggs! They usually never get very excited by the chocolate eggs they can find in England because they don't have a surprise inside, so I am going to make sure they will have at least a couple of Italian eggs each.
I love Easter, I really do, much more than Christmas and in Italy it is really special. During the "Holy week", which is the week before Easter, there are lots of religious processions happening all over Italy, like the one in Lanciano in Abruzzo. They are amazing and some are even moving.
We will be having a big meal for Easter and have lots of traditional Italian cakes and chocolate. In the meantime I made this chocolate cake with a delicious filling of mascarpone cheese and a touch of orange essence. My son wanted this as a birthday cake because he loves chocolate and the mini Cadbury Easter eggs. This is probably the only sugary chocolate I like. There is something about these mini eggs which drives me nuts.. I just cannot stop eating them.. but I only buy them at Easter anyway. In any case they were perfect to decorate my cake.
I made a chocolate egg basket using noodles to decorate the cake and it is also a beautiful Easter centerpiece. This is not an edible basket though. If you want to eat the whole lot you can substitute the noodles for cornflakes or puffed rice, both will work quite well.
- Prep Time : 35 minutes
- Cook Time : 40 minutes
- Yield : 6
- For the cake:
- plain flour sieved - 350 g - 3 + ¼ cup
- baking powder - 2 tsp
- eggs (at room temperature) - 3
- olive oil or corn oil - 120 ml - 4 fluid oz
- sugar - 150 g - 2/3 cup
- orange essence - 1 tsp
- unsweetened cocoa powder - 50 g - 1/2 cup
- milk - 130 ml - 4.4 fl oz + extra if needed
- dark chocolate - 50 g - just over 1/4 cup
- milk chocolate vermicelli - to sprinkle
- For the filling:
- mascarpone cheese - 250 g - 1 + 1/8 cup
- powdered sugar - 80 g - 5/8 cup
- vanilla essence - 1 tsp
- For the nest:
- dried noodles - 150 g - 2 cups
- chocolate - 60 g - 1/3 cup
- mini chocolate Easter eggs
In a bowl whip the eggs with the sugar. Add the cocoa powder, the flour with the baking powder and the oil. Stir well then add the orange essence and the milk. Gently mix all the ingredients. You need to get a smooth and runny consistency so add extra milk if needed.
In a bowl mix the mascarpone with the sugar and the vanilla.
Grease a ring mold which should have a diameter of approx 24 cm or 9 inch and pour in half of the mixture. Put the mascarpone cream on top of it, in the middle (check out the picture below) and cover with the remaining cocoa mixture. You need to make sure that you cover the mascarpone cream very well to avoid it spilling out during cooking.
Bake at 180C or 350F for about 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick if it is cooked. Let it cool down a little then turn it upside down.
Melt the dark chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water and then using a brush cover all the cake with the chocolate. Sprinkle the vermicelli on top.
Make the nest by putting the noodles in a bowl. Melt the chocolate and pour it onto the noodles. Working with your hands make sure that the chocolate has completely covered all the noodles. You now need a bowl which should be the size of the hole in the middle of your cake. Line the bowl with cling film and brush it with oil. Put the noodles in and make the shape of a nest then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you are in a rush you can also put it in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Place the nest in the middle of the ring, fill it with chocolate eggs and decorate with chicks if you like!