Switzerland: Chocolate and Almond Mountain Cake

The national flag of Switzerland.

Switzerland is a country that means a lot to me personally having been the basis for many family holidays in the Bernese Alps. As a result I knew instantly that I wanted to incorporate two things into this cake – mountains and edelweiss. In order to accomplish this successfully I decided to use this cake as an opportunity to brush up on my cake decorating skills which at this point in the challenge are approximately nil.

The basis of this cake is a chocolate almond sponge with added chunks of dark chocolate and almonds, inspired by the famous Swiss chocolate brand Toblerone. One of my favourite chocolates (on the return flight of a holiday I usually can be found in the duty-free shop stocking up!), it seemed natural to present this, both through choice of flavours and in that the iconic triangle shape is represented by a Swiss mountain, the Matterhorn. After carving and construction the cake was then covered in dark chocolate and  frozen. White chocolate was added to represent the snow-capped peaks, and fondant edelweiss were added to the bottom.

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Chocolate and Almond Mountain Cake

Ingredients:

The cake:

  • 6oz plain flour
  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence

To decorate:

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • White fondant icing
  • Small gold balls (very small balls of yellow icing can be used if not available)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5. Grease and line a shallow rectangular baking tray (You are looking for area not depth in this tin!)

Cream together the sugar and butter before adding the eggs, beating after each addition. Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa, ground almonds and vanilla essence and mix until thoroughly combined. Add in the chopped chocolate and nuts and mix in gently. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.

When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. As the cake must be completely cold before carving, if possible place in the freezer for half n hour before carving.

Whilst the cake is cooking/cooling, make your Edelweiss. Dust your surface and fondant with icing sugar before briefly kneading ad then rolling out to a thickness of 2mm. Using an small 8 petal daisy template (if you do not have one, draw your own), cut out about 10 flowers out of the white fondant. Place a small amount of egg white or edible glue onto the centre of each flower, and finish off the flower with the addition of 4 small gold balls. Set these aside to dry.

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Once the cake is completely cold, its time to start carving! I built up my cake on a clean chopping board as I did not have a plate long enough to complete this. Cut a slice lengthways from the cake about 3in wide – this will be your base. From the rest of your cake you will now cut the mountains. The simplest way to do this is to cut triangles, however if you are feeling more adventurous, find a mountain of your choice and create a template by drawing around the shape.

At this point melt your dark chocolate, as the next part will be easier if you have it to hand. Use a small amount of dark chocolate to stick the mountains to the base, holding in place with cocktail sticks if necessary. Allow a small amount of time for these to dry (enough that you can remove the cocktail sticks) and then cover the whole cake in melted chocolate. Return the cake to the freezer and leave for the chocolate to set hard.

Melt the white chocolate. Remove the cake from the freezer and use a pastry brush to paint the mountain tops with the white chocolate. Don’t worry about it being too neat, but try to ensure that the snow comes down to the same level – you shouldn’t have one completely covered and one with only a small dab! Using a small amount of white chocolate on the back of each flower, adhere it to the base of the cake in groups of three, covering the bottom of the cake. Place back in the refrigerator to cool