So tomorrow is Halloween. I don’t normally do anything for the occasion. When we were younger, my brother and I would sometimes ask if we could go trick or treating. My mother would chide us, “no child of mine is going out to beg for sweets.” As I got older, I did begin to wonder, I mean, one of the first lessons you teach a child is to “never take candy from a stranger,” and yet on the last day of October it’s suddenly okay? Mixed signals much?
Aaaaanyway, work were hosting a Halloween themed bake off competition, and a few members of my team peer pressured me into participating. So, on Thursday night I hit up Waitrose, grabbed a few ingredients and between babysitting, I whipped up a red velvet cake with plenty of the standard cream cheese frosting. To make it Halloween themed, I poured over some chocolate ganache dyed red (attempting to make it look like blood) before topping with, what I think, are the cutest ghosts made of meringue.
On that note, do you know how difficult it is to transport cake on the underground. Is it just me, or do people like to push and shove you more than usual when you’re carrying cake?! Not fun… So, whilst I didn’t try any myself, it was apparently good enough to win the competition. Yay! =) If that’s not reason enough to make it, I don’t know what is…
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 125g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Black gel food dye
- 225g plain flour
- 25g cornflour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa (15g)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 120g unsalted butter
- 300g granulated sugar
- Red food dye
- 250ml buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar
Cream cheese frosting:
- 250g full fat cream cheese
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 400ml double cream
- 120g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red chocolate ganache
- 50ml double cream
- 60g white chocolate
- Red food colouring
- Grease and line two 7-inch tins. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
- In a medium bowl, sieve the flour, cornflour, cocoa and salt.
- Add the buttermilk to a measuring jug and pour in a glug of red food colouring and stir to combine.
- In a large bowl, cream together the unsalted butter and sugar with a whisk, before adding the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Add the vanilla and whisk well to combine again.
- Add a third of the flour mix to the butter and sugar. Whisk well to combine. Then add half of the buttermilk mixture. Whisk well to combine. Repeat until you’ve finished making the cake batter.
- In a small bowl, add the baking soda and vinegar. The mixture will bubble. Quickly stir and scrape it into the cake batter. Mix well to combine before quickly splitting the batter into the two baking tins and smoothing over.
- Bake for between 25-30mins, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Once done, allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack. I also used a serrated knife to cut off the slightly domed tops to make it easier to stack.
- Reduce the heat down to gas mark 1/2.
- Line a flat, rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Add the two egg whites to a completely clean bowl. Whisk for around a minute until they get frothy.
- Whisking continuously, add a spoonful of sugar at a time. The mix should get thicker and glossier.
- Add the cream of tartar and whisk for a further few mins.
- Add the meringue mix to a piping bag with a circular tip attached. Carefully pipe little mounds of meringue around 3-4cms tall.
- Bake for an hour and 15mins. Turn off the gas, and leave the oven door open until they cool completely. Decorate with the black gel dye. Store in an airtight container if you’re not using them immediately or they’ll start absorbing moisture from the air and getting soggy.
- For the frosting, add the cream cheese, mascarpone and icing sugar to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour in the double cream and vanilla extract before whisking until thick.
- To assemble, place the one of the cakes on a cake board. Spread on a quarter of the frosting with a palette knife before topping with the other cake. Spread the rest of the frosting over the tops and sides.
- For the best results, place your cake in a cake holder or other airtight container and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
- Finally to make your ganache, nuke the double cream in the microwave for 30seconds until hot but not boiling. Break up the chocolate and add to the hot cream. Leave to soften for a few minutes before whisking and adding the red food dye. Allow to cool and thicken slightly.
- Pour the cooled ganache over the top of the cake and slowly start spreading towards the edges forcing it to pour over the edges.
- Once done, pop in the fridge to cool and set for around 30mins.
- To serve, top the cake with your meringue ghosts.