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Chocolate layered cake with ghost meringues on top

Easy spook cake

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
    • plus cooling
  • Easy
  • Serves 12

Make a spooktacular chocolate cake for Halloween. The decoration on it couldn’t be easier, with spooky ghost faces drawn onto shop-bought meringues

  • Vegetarian
Nutrition: Per serving


For the chocolate sponge

  • 185ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tins
  • 250g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 325g light brown soft sugar
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 100ml strong coffee, or espresso, cooled
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

For the berry compote

  • 200g frozen mixed berries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

For the icing

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tbsp milk (optional)

For the topping

  • red and black edible food icing pens
  • 5-10 mini white meringues


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil and line the base and sides of two 20cm loose-bottom cake tins. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and a good pinch of salt in a large bowl.

  • STEP 2

    Whisk the oil, buttermilk, coffee, vanilla and eggs in a jug. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 45-50 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If it doesn't, return the cakes to the oven for 5 mins more, then check again. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  • STEP 3

    To make the berry compote, stir the berries and sugar together in a microwavable bowl, then microwave on high for 4 mins, stirring every minute. Sieve the fruit from the syrup and set both aside to cool.

  • STEP 4

    To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Leave to cool for 5 mins. Cream the butter, icing sugar and cocoa together using an electric whisk until fluffy, about 5 mins. Gradually pour in the melted chocolate and keep beating until smooth. If the icing is stiff, add the milk.

  • STEP 5

    For the topping, draw two eyes and a mouth onto each meringue with the icing pens. Leave to set. Put one sponge, base-side up, on a cake stand. Cover with half the buttercream, then scatter over the strained berries. Drizzle over half the syrup. Place the other sponge on top and spread over the remaining buttercream with a palette knife. Drizzle over the remaining syrup, then arrange the ghost meringues on top.

Goes well with


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