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“Ten ton hammer” chocolate birthday cake

Last Saturday my dear gent turned 24. It might not seem like a big number, but I can vividly remember wishing him a happy eighteenth birthday and suddenly whoa! 24!, which not so long ago sounded like a totally grown up age to be. Turns out it’s not.

(Special mention to also last week birthday gals my mom and my sister-in-law!)

Cake with candles

Every year I bake the most chocolaty cake I can come up with to celebrate, but we had kind of a busy schedule for the weekend,  since on Saturday we were going to Bilbao to see these guys live (by the way, we were at the show on that video too, and it was one of the most amazing ever) and Friday night we were going out to a movie at the Gijón International Film Festival (of which I’ll talk in my next post), so I decided to keep it relatively simple, which didn’t mean that almost a pound of chocolate was not involved in the making, for it absolutely was.

We enjoyed the first slice after coming back from our movie on Friday night (since it was after 12 am so Saturday already), and then another one for breakfast the following morning before hitting the road. There was a piece left that we gave to my parents-in-law, so I’d say the cake yields 5 very nice portions, but I guess more moderate people could easily get 8 or 10.

It’s a dense cake, not too dry and not too moist with a soft texture and a pronounced chocolate flavor, topped with a thick layer of silky ganache that melts in your mouth embracing each bite of cake, just like 1000 thread count sheets would embrace your body and lull you into sweet chocolate dreamland. And in honor of the guys who would later make us sweat off the last drop of butter in the cake (and share said sweat with about every other assistant, which is the not so pretty side of musical events held indoors), I’m naming it after one of the night’s hits, for both of them were pretty powerful and shared the ability of putting you in a state of blissful elation.

Ten ton hammer cake

  • 250 g (9 oz) dark chocolate
  • 150 g (5.3 oz or 1 stick plus 3 Tb) butter
  • 150 g (5.3 oz or 3/4 cup) white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 50 g (1.8 oz or 6 Tb) all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 175ºC (350º F) and grease a 24 cm (9-inch) cake pan.

Separate the eggs. You’ll be whipping the whites later, so put them in the bowl of your mixer or in a big bowl if you’re doing it with a whisk, like I did. Look at the pretty shiny yolks.


I know you can only see five of them, but I added another one later.

Put the chopped chocolate (or unchopped if you’re using chips or the like) and the butter in a medium saucepan/pot (keep in mind you’ll have to fit the whipped egg whites later in it) and set over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth.

If you’re unsure about putting chocolate in direct contact with heat, you can melt the butter first, and then add the chocolate. I use cookware that is appropriate for melting chocolate and have never had a problem with it.

Chocolate chips

Remove the pot from the heat. Add the egg yolks, two at a time, stirring well after each addition until no orange traces remain. Next dump in the sugar and stirr it in too, and last, add the flour, and stir energetically for a bit.

Whip the egg whites until they form peaks that hold their shape.

Whipped egg whites

Fold the whites into the batter, in several additions, until you get a mostly homogeneous mixture, and scrape into the prepared pan.

Cake pan with batter

I was starting to lose light at the time, hence the reach-for-the-sun pile of books, which didn’t really help much.

Put the pan into the oven and bake for about 25 min, until a skewer or knife inserted in the middle comes out almost clean, but the cake still feels quite tender in the middle.

Cake in pan

Mine was slightly overbaked, becuase I was busy with the ganache and let it bake for 30 min.

While the cake is baking, prepare the chocolate ganache:

Chocolate ganache (adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pièrre Hermé, by Dorie Greenspan):

  • 50 g (1,8 oz or 3 Tb plus 1 ts) butter, at room temperature.
  • 180 g (6,3 oz) dark chocolate
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) heavy cream

Place the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a bowl that can hold all ingredients.

Put the heavy cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.

While the cream is heating up, work the butter with a rubber spatula until it’s very creamy.

When the crem reaches a full boil, pour over the chocolate, and stir with the rubber spatula in widening circles.

Making ganache

Be patient since it will take a while, but eventually all the chocolate will be melted.

Add the butter in two additions, stirring in the same fashion as before both times, until you get a glossy, smooth ganache.


Finished ganache

When the cake pan is cool enough to handle, run a knife around the cake edge and invert it onto a plate (or, if you didn’t plan ahead and suddenly realise that you didn’t bring any of your serving plates from your parents’ house, use a big chopping board instead. That’s the route I took).

Give both the cake and the ganache some time to come down to room temperature and just go about your business. When the cake doesn’t feel warm to the touch anymore, it’s frosting time. Or ganache-ing time. It was already pitch-dark so artificial light was in order, which was obviously not ideal for the picture taking.

Cake and ganache

You’ll have about 1 and 1/2 cups of ganache, which is just the perfect amount to cover the cake and eat a couple spoonfulls yourself. So don’t be afraid, just pour the whole thing on top of the cake, and then spread it around with a tool of your choice (I just used the back of a spoon, but I guess it’d make more sense to use a knife or spatula). The spoon worked fine for me, however, since I was not going for a polished finish, but more like swirly messy fun.

Cake and ganache

Pouring ganache onto cake

Pouring ganache onto cake

Pouring ganache onto cake

Spreading ganache

As for the finished product:

Finished cake

Finished cake

Finished cake

I kept it in the fridge so the ganache would get some consistence, and then just pulled it out a few minutes before serving. I don’t have any experience freezing it, but I’m pretty sure it would be alright frozen in plastic containers.

Hope you enjoy!

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17 responses »

  1. your sister in law had a wish that should come true any time after 23.12 …. :)

    quiero probar esta también! hacemos trato?? y te llevo unos lebkuchen… ;)

  2. Pues ya me dirás si se te cumple, cuánto misterio…
    Los lebkuchen suenan muy bien :) No pensaba volver a hacer esta misma, pero tengo múltiples postres navideños en mente que espero que también sirvan…

  3. Happy birthday to your gent! The cake looks incredible. There is nothing better than a dense chocolate cake. I’m a little jealous. You eat big slices :P

  4. Mmmmmm!!!!!!!! Qué suerte de 24!
    Cómo me gusta esa textURA de la cobertURA deslizándose sobre la base…. Va a ser que el lustre se lo dan tantos libros que se ven en el encuadre!
    Ah bueno! y la borrasca final cubriendo todo el territorio…ñam,ñam…

  5. No, por ahora. Así que es nuestro momento a medias, está claro: cuando vengas queremos una mitad/mitad. Mesa, mantel y champagne corre de mi cuenta.

  6. bueno! entonces lo celebraremos juntas! en vacaciones la logística ya no es un problema… :)
    a propósito.. llego el 22!!
    un besin a las dos!

  7. Yo estaba completamente despreocupada….. muy segura de lo mío, subida en la torre Inffiel. Me bajaré para el día de la recuperación, como El Barón rampante.
    Pues eso, besssos de chocolate!!

  8. La tarta tiene una apariencia impresionante, pero lo que de verdad nos gustaría es probarla!


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