“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity n the heart.” Washington Irving
Recipe, styling and photography by Katelyn Allegra
Assisted by Cassandra Upton
Dripping white chocolate “candle” cakes with eggnog sponge and nutmeg-rum buttercream icing
- 12 large eggs
- 10 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 600g white sugar
- 600g ground almonds
- 165g white bread flour
- 18g ground cinnamon
- 10 egg whites
- 165g salted butter, melted
- 150g egg whites
- 225g castor sugar
- 500g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
- 3 tbsp rum
- 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 500g white chocolate, melted, to drip
- 3 x white birthday candles, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line 4 round cake tins (with a 15cm diameter and 5cm depth each), 1 x 900g tin can (with a diameter of 10cm) and 1 x 450g tin can (with a diameter of 7cm) with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
Place the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla essence and ½ of the white sugar in a glass/metal bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). Stir constantly until the mixture reaches 48˚C on a sugar thermometer. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and reaches ribbon stage, about 1 minute. Set aside until needed.
In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, white bread flour and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
Place the 10 egg whites in the bowl of a hand-held/stand mixer. The bowl must be scrupulously clean and dry or the whites won’t reach full volume. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ½ of the white sugar, beating continuously until incorporated well. Set aside.
Fold the almond mixture (from step 3) into the whipped whole-egg mixture (from step 2). Stir in the melted butter. Fold in the whipped egg whites.
Divide the batter among the prepared cake tins and tin cans, filling each cake tin and tin can ¾ of the way up to allow for rising during baking. Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centres of each of the cakes comes out clean, about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool in the tins, about 5 minutes, before turning the cakes out on wire cooling racks to cool completely.
For the buttercream, place the 150g egg whites and castor sugar in a glass bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). Using a whisk, gently stir the mixture until it reaches 60˚C on a sugar thermometer or until the mixture is hot to the touch. Be mindful not to aerate the mixture when stirring.
Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 – 15 minutes. While beating, add the unsalted butter one cube at a time, beating to incorporate each addition before adding the next. Add the rum and freshly grated nutmeg. Beat until incorporated well.
To assemble the cakes, start with the 4 largest sponges. Use a serrated bread knife to cut a very thin slice off the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Stack the cakes on top of one another, spreading a thick layer of the buttercream between each sponge. Use a spatula or palette knife to spread some of the buttercream over the outside of the cake. Set aside.
For the 2 smaller cakes, cut the sponges into 3 equal parts and cover with buttercream as mentioned in the previous step.
Place the melted chocolate in a small piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Slowly pipe the chocolate down the sides of the cakes, creating a drip. Wait 5 minutes for the chocolate to set before piping a second layer of drip onto each cake – to speed up this process, place the cakes in the freezer for a couple of minutes between piping a new layer of chocolate. The aim is to build up the drips until you’ve created a layered effect.
Carefully place each cake on a candlestick large enough to support its weight. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife, trim the wax off the birthday candles to reveal the wicks, leaving about 1cm of wax intact at the bottom of each candle. Place 1 candle on top of each cake, pressing down until the 1cm of candlewax is pushed into the sponge. Light the wicks when ready to serve.
We used recycled jam tins for the smaller-sized cake moulds.