Halloween’s round the corner, and though we don’t celebrate it, I have been seeing some really interesting looking food on various food sites. I’ll give the gory stuff a wide berth because no matter how much they’re prettied up, I just cannot come to terms with blood shot eyeballs, dirty claw-like nail tipped fingers, brains and worms! I read somewhere, someone describing such food as disgustingly delicious, but sometimes I cannot get beyond the disgusting to even think they could be delicious. However there are some really delightful Halloween foods including some cute spider stuff (For the record, I do NOT like spiders!) like cookies and cupcakes and owl cookies.
A Halloween treat I’ve wanted to make for some time now are meringue ghosts / spooks. They’re the cutest (and only ones) I’ve ever seen and just make me want to grab my apron, beaters, cookie sheets and give my oven a good workout! It also helps that they’re easy to make. I have madeplenty ofmeringuein my time as my daughter who doesn’t like an “eggy” flavour in cakes, cookies and the like actually loves meringues for some reason.
I’ve also been thinking about a chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache for some time so I decided to combine the two and use the spooks to decorate my cake. The decorating was a bit of a disaster as I started with a plan to use the ganache to sandwich two chocolate cakes and then use more ganache to cover only the top of my cake leaving the sides uncovered for a rustic look.
My teenage daughter took one look at my cake and said, “I know you wanted a rustic looking cake but this just looks just plain messy. Don’t take this personally, but I wouldn’t want to eat that cake going by how it looks!” Having got that verdict from my toughest critic, I decided to cover the sides with ganache too.
By the time I had put my “spooks” on the cake, the whole thing looked so different from the work of art I had visualised. With the meringue spooks now sitting in somewhat sticky ganache (we live in warm climes), there was no way I could re-arrange everything to my satisfaction without messing up the whole thing.
So don’t go by the way my cake looks, and trust me when I say this chocolate cake is nice. It scores with me not just on taste but also the minimal effort that goes into it. You don’t even have to take your electric mixer out as there’s no creaming involved and a whisk or a wooden spatula will do. The Ganache is easy to make and though you will need that mixer to make short work of the meringue.
I used cake flour equivalent for my cake (2 tbsp corn starch in a 1 cup measure topped up with all-purpose flour = 1 cup cake flour), but you can use all-purpose flour instead. Oil based cake batter produces a moist and light cake here.
This cake calls for boiling coffee decoction or water. I prefer using coffee because that somehow makes chocolate cakes so much more full flavour. The strength of the coffee depends upon you and you can use instant coffee dissolved in water, though I use filter coffee decoction because I usually have it on hand. If you are serving this cake to children, it might be better to use water instead of coffee.
As for the meringues, I personally prefer the taste of meringue made with lemon juice but I find those made with cream of tartar whip up stiffer and hold up much better.