Easter Nest Mud Cake

Pirate Dreams
Posted on 04/11/2012 by cakecrumbs
I hope you all had yourselves the most fantastic Easter imaginable, filled with love, great company, and of course - chocolate.

One of my favourite excuses around Easter is the ability to bake the most indulgent desserts. And when it comes to indulging, you can't go much further than this mudcake.

I've baked this flourless chocolate cake a few times. You've seen it for Father's Days and for Birthdays. This cake is so delicious and so loved I'm constantly looking for excuses to revisit and reinvent it.

I've done the Basket thing for Easter quite a lot, so I decided to step away from that and go for a nest instead.

When it comes to spun sugar, or even just making toffee in general, it is what I would consider a nemesis. It never works for me and I end up tossing the contents down my sink in frustration, only to forget about the whole solidifying thing and end up spending half an hour trying to melt the contents out of my drain.

Something finally clicked last night, and not only did I manage to make it work, I made it work for long enough that I was able to get a nest out of it. Whoo!

Filled the nest with eggs. Only to realise it was now too heavy to lift onto the cake and had to take them all out again!

The meringue in this cake gives the cake a lovely outer crust that is delicious, but holds no weight. So I cracked it with a spoon before drizzling on the ganache.

Cut yourself a tiny slice. You will begin by wanting to eat the entire cake by yourself. Halfway though said slice you will begin to wonder if you can ever conquer the slice on your plate. Rich does not begin to describe this cake. It is best straight out of the oven when the chocolate inside is still molten.

This cake is one of the messiest, most moist cakes you will ever eat. There's no being pretty and delicate about it. The only thing left to do is add cream and your favourite berries to cut through the richness and enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake


1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder
1/3 cup (80ml) hot water
150g dark eating chocolate
150g butter
1 1/3 cups (300g) brown sugar
1 cup (125g) almond meal
4 eggs, separated
fresh berries and cream, to serve


1. Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Prepare 22cm cake tin
2. Combine cocoa powder and hot water; set aside
3. Combine chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and melt over a double boiler until melted; remove from heat; stir in cocoa mixture, sugar, almond and egg yolks
4. Beat egg whites to soft peaks; gently fold into chocolate mixture in two batches
5. Pour into prepared tin. Bake for 1 1/4 hours; stand in pan for 15 minutes before turning out [note: cake is very fragile so a springform tin or similar is ideal - just release the sides and serve on the base to avoid mess]

Chocolate Ganache
Combine 200g of dark eating chocolate chocolate with 2/3 cup (160ml) cream in small saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth; allow to cool slightly or until mixture begins to thicken.

x-posted here @ my blog
layers_of_eli 11th-Apr-2012 02:20 am (UTC)
Your spun sugar is gorrrrgeous!
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Thank you! I was like a little kid when it started working. My dad and boyfriend were in the lounge trying to fix the set top box on the telly and I'm in the kitchen going "Oh my gosh! It's working! Yaaaay!" ... they thought I was talking about the TV.
layers_of_eli 11th-Apr-2012 02:40 am (UTC)
LOL! Silly boys. I know JUST how you feel -- love that giddy, "IT WORKED!" feeling.
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 02:42 am (UTC)
Haha, isn't it the best? Especially if it's something that has defeated you for so long. The boys just look at me like it's no big deal - they automatically assume I'll make it work.
layers_of_eli 11th-Apr-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
haha, foiled by your own reputation of proficiency! ;)

This proud moment, by the way, is something I fully expect to experience one day SOON when making meringue. One DRY day soon. Third time's a charm?
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 02:57 am (UTC)
I think my family just have much more faith in me than I do, or than is warranted lol.

You'll totally get there! Third time is definitely the charm. By then you've had two opportunities to learn from the what went wrong, it's just gonna be perfect.

It's funny how we all have our Achilles heels, but they're all different. Like my first few times with fondant were a train wreck, and then other people post their first tries and I'm like "whoa". Gelatine and caramel/toffee I had disasters with until I finally got it right, yet other people do it so easy. Meringue is something I never had trouble with, but trips lots of people up. Though weather is always a big deal there.
layers_of_eli 11th-Apr-2012 02:59 am (UTC)
My most embarrassing issue is flippin' brownies. I'll throw together a fancy bath of croissants or whatever, no problem, but for some reason I am historically awful with brownies. Underbaked, overbaked, or SOMETHING every time.
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 03:03 am (UTC)
Ohhh, I totally feel your pain. It is so much worse when you can do something overly complicated, but get tripped up on something that is supposed to be basic. I made hot cross buns of Easter and forgot to heat the milk before adding the yeast. They were rocks.
layers_of_eli 11th-Apr-2012 03:09 am (UTC)
LOL! Tasty rocks at least, I hope. I had an underbaked brownie cake, so. BLAH. It was still very tasty and I'm totally posting the recipe -- it just needed a few more minutes than I gave it.

Hot cross buns are on my "to make" list!
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 03:51 am (UTC)
Haha, tasty but unappealing. They're now being used as treats for my doggy.

Undercooked brownie is fantastic. As far as kitchen disasters go, they're one of the best. It happened to me once so I just cut away the cooked pieces of brownie and put them in a dessert glass, then drizzled it with the runny, uncooked part. Then topped it with cream and berries and served it for dessert.
lbfmusic 11th-Apr-2012 03:23 am (UTC)
That looks HEAVENLY!
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 03:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's definitely the most favourite chocolate cake in my house, I get asked to do it all the time.
querulouspeg 11th-Apr-2012 10:18 am (UTC)
Stunning, amazing chocolicious wonderment. Serious kudos. I can never get spun sugar to work either so when it comes to making easter nests I usually melt chocolate and mix it with smashed up shredded wheat. It works pretty well but I must say nothing can compare to the gorgeous spun sugar on this beauty. ~drool~
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
Chocolate was actually my back up plan! If the sugar didn't work, I was just going to pipe a chocolate one. Mixing it with shredded wheat is such an intriguing idea! Have you posted that before? I'd love to see what it looks like.

My problem with spun sugar was that I could never get it to stay molten enough to use. As soon as I tried to reheat it it would crystallize. But out of desperation I just kept heating it and it melted back down and I was able to keep it that way.
noir_au_blanc 11th-Apr-2012 11:39 am (UTC)
This looks amazing, Ive always been nervous about doing spun sugar although Ive been told its not as hard as it looks, just need to keep an eye on it for colour change etc.

I must try this cake one day, I have a standard choc cake that I've always stood by as its a throw everything into one bowl whisk, turn out into tin and cook
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 12:17 pm (UTC)
I think it's a matter of beginners luck - some people will nail it straight away, and people like me will struggle for a while. Making the toffee for me was easy so I could do a praline, but getting it to stay liquid long enough to do the whole spun sugar thing I found a headache.

Quick mix cakes are the best! I have three go to choc cakes that I use for different purposes - this cake is best served warm as a dessert, so I don't usually gift it, just bake it when people are over.
noir_au_blanc 11th-Apr-2012 12:31 pm (UTC)
I will add this to the dessert category in my recipe book, always good to have a warm cake that is rich on hand.

Watching australia junior masterchef - that show puts me to shame when I see kids aged 10-13 totally outcook me in every respect.
cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh is there another season airing now? I barely watch TV these days so I totally miss that stuff. I watch Aus MasterChef religiously, but always fall away with the other seasons. Although I never watch it, I love Junior MasterChef because I'm forever hearing people say that kids can't cook, or are too young to learn. I love that these kids are proving them wrong.

But I'm right there with you feeling the shame!
noir_au_blanc 11th-Apr-2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
Im not sure, I think it might be season 2 or 3? in NZ, it was by pure chance that I found it - you know what else strikes me dumb?

Is when famous chefs, doesn't matter if its pastry or italian cuisine are featured as guest judges or mentors on the show, these kids know exactly who these people are - Im like huh? who? wha?

cakecrumbs 11th-Apr-2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
Haha, I know! I don't know any of those people. I've gotten to know famous chefs only through watching the show. It was like when I did ballet. I danced for over a decade and loved it, but I couldn't name a single ballerina. And then I watch dance shows and see little kids getting excited about some person I don't know.
arrien 11th-Apr-2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
That spun sugar is amazing!!! It really is beautiful. And nice work on the rest of it! Yum!!
cakecrumbs 12th-Apr-2012 04:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! It melted so quickly once it was on the cake!
tresjolie9 12th-Apr-2012 02:52 am (UTC)
Wow, beautiful cake, beautiful bird's nest, the spun sugar requires all kinds of artistry! The whole thing is an amazing work of cake art using some pretty non traditional ingredients, showing that you don't need layers of fondant to make an impressive cake.

Also looking at the ingredients, I'm not sure but I think it would work if there were people observing Passover around.

Edited at 2012-04-12 02:53 am (UTC)
cakecrumbs 12th-Apr-2012 04:49 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm trying to steer away from fondant stuff lately and embracing the art of the gateaux. As much as I love working with fondant, a lot of people find it too sweet.

I think you are right about Passover (it's just no dishes requiring fermentation, yeah?) - I didn't even consider that as I don't know anyone who is Jewish.
mylove_and_rain 14th-Apr-2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
AMAZING! So professional and exquisite! I want to learn how to "spin" sugar like that. Wow.
cakecrumbs 15th-Apr-2012 12:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :]

I'm sure you'd learn much quicker than I did!
rachel2205 18th-Apr-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
ZOMG so beautiful.
cakecrumbs 18th-Apr-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
Thank you!
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