Meringue espresso buttercream
4 egg whites (about 140 g)
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
180 g caster sugar
270 g unsalted butter, at room temperature (squidgy, not hard or melting)
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
1 x 40 ml shot of espresso
50 ml warm water
Place the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and briefly whisk together.
Remove the bowl from the stand and over a pan of simmering water (about 2 cm deep), taking care that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk the mixture with an electric or hand whisk until it becomes frothy and the mixture feels hot to the touch. Place the bowl back in the stand mixer and whisk for 5 minutes.
Add the butter (1 tbsp at a time), making sure it has been fully incorporated before adding the next spoonful.
Add the vanilla, then slowly pour in the espresso and warm water and continue to whisk for 5 minutes until the mix has a soft, mousse-like consistency.
Place the Tala star nozzle into the tip of the piping bag and spoon in the buttercream.
Chocolate espresso cake
200 g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa), chopped
200 g butter, cubed
140 ml espresso
180 g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200 g light muscovado sugar
200 g golden caster sugar
30 g cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
75 ml full-fat milk
Chocolate, to decorate
Heat the oven to 160 C/fan 140 C. Lightly oil a 23 cm Tala springform cake tin. Sprinkle cocoa powder around the side of the tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Put the chocolate in a medium pan with the butter, espresso and 85 ml cold water. Warm over a low heat until everything has melted, taking care not to overheat.
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugars and cocoa powder, and squash out any lumps.
Beat the eggs with the milk.
Pour the melted chocolate and egg mixtures into the flour mixture, and stir to a smooth, runny consistency. Pour into the tin and bake for 80 minutes. Test whether the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre (if it comes out clean, with just a couple of crumbs, the cake is cooked). If liquid chocolate coats the tip of the skewer, cook for a further 5 minutes, then test again.
Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then release from the tin. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack (ideally for at least 2 hours, which will make the cake easier to assemble).
100 g dark chocolate (72% cocoa)
130 ml double cream
1 ½ tsp golden syrup
1 ½ tsp unsalted butter, softened
Make the ganache after the cake has cooled and you are ready to assemble, otherwise it will be too stiff to drizzle over the cake.
Chop up the chocolate into tiny pieces and place in a heatproof bowl.
Mix the cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan and place on a moderate heat until it just starts to bubble, then pour over the chocolate.
Leave to melt for 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate has dissolved and is fully incorporated into the cream.
Add the butter, and beat until the ganache is shiny, then pour into a piping bag.
Cut the cake horizontally into two pieces. Place the bottom half of the cake on a plate, suitable for serving.
Pipe stars of buttercream round the edge of the cake, then fill the centre with a swirl of buttercream and smooth it down with the Tala palette knife.
Pipe the chocolate ganache between the stars of buttercream. Place the second half of the cake on top.
Pipe a second circle of buttercream stars around the edge of the cake (or cover the top with buttercream stars).
Sprinkle grated chocolate over the top and decorate with chocolate eggs and Easter chicks.
Links to Tala baking essentials