Gold-leaf chocolate cake with cherries and balsamic ice-cream

Gold-leaf chocolate cake with cherries and balsamic ice-cream

William Meppem

This is a very luxurious chocolate cake, and not just because it’s dripping with gold. The quality of the chocolate makes it special – and for a special cake you need a special ice-cream. The balsamic ice-cream is surprisingly simple to make and a great dessert on its own. Try it with strawberries dusted with icing sugar and warmed in a hot oven for a few minutes.

Chocolate cake


Quantity Ingredient
5 eggs
290g caster sugar
125ml water
340g good-quality dark chocolate, with 60–70% cocoa content
225g good-quality butter

Chocolate coating

Quantity Ingredient
120g bitter couverture chocolate or good-quality cooking chocolate
250ml Sorbet syrup
40g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted


Quantity Ingredient
250ml port
250ml red wine
500g sugar
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
4 cinnamon sticks
2 lemon, juiced
400g cherries, pitted
25g cornflour
50ml brandy or kirsch


Quantity Ingredient
2 sheets of 24-carat edible gold leaf
1 quantity Balsamic ice-cream
1 quantity Brandysnap cigars
1 quantity Pralines


  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a 20–25 cm diameter non-stick cake tin with greaseproof paper, then lightly butter and flour it.
  2. To make the cake, whisk the eggs with 40 g of the caster sugar in a food processor until thick and creamy. Combine the remaining 250 g of caster sugar with the water in a saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid has become a syrup. Allow it to reach 117°C (use a sugar thermometer to test). Melt the chocolate and butter in the hot syrup and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Working reasonably fast, carefully whisk the warm chocolate syrup into the eggs in a gradual stream, until the chocolate syrup has been completely absorbed. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place the tin into a bain marie of hot water filled to the same level as the cake mixture (a useful tip is to fill the bain marie once the cake has been put in the oven). Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake appears set and firm to the touch.
  4. Allow the cake to cool then remove from the tin and put in the refrigerator to cool further. Once cool, using a 7–9 cm diameter biscuit cutter, or a square cutter, carefully cut out 2 small cakes from the large one, making perfect shapes.
  5. To make the coating, gently melt the chocolate in a saucepan over a bain marie to roughly 40°C (measure with a sugar thermometer). In a separate saucepan warm the sorbet syrup over a medium heat – do not boil. Then whisk the cocoa powder into the syrup until completely dissolved. Warm the syrup to roughly 50–55°C and add it to the chocolate, mixing continuously, until the chocolate becomes liquid and shiny.
  6. Place the cut-out shapes of chocolate cake on a wire rack with a tray underneath and with a tablespoon carefully spoon the coating over the cakes, progressing from one side to the other, until they are evenly coated all over. Set in the refrigerator.
  7. Once set, take a sheet of gold leaf (which will be attached to some greaseproof paper) and stretch it over a chocolate cake, the gold facing the cake. Without touching the gold leaf with your hands (if you do it will stick and tear), press the sheet gently onto the cake. Then carefully peel the greaseproof paper away. Repeat for the second cake and refrigerate until required. The cakes can be prepared to this stage 24 hours before serving.
  8. Prepare the balsamic ice-cream and brandysnap cigars. To prepare the cherries, combine the port, wine and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the vanilla seeds, cinnamon and lemon juice, and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Then add the pitted cherries and simmer for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornflour in brandy and stir into the cherry mixture until it thickens. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  9. To serve, present the cakes whole with their accompaniments alongside in separate small bowls. Slice the cakes and serve with the cherries – hot or cold – garnished with the brandysnap cigars and a scoop of ice-cream alongside. Lastly sprinkle praline dust around the cake for added texture.
high end
fine dining
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