This is pure indulgence - far superior to the classic gâteau! The key is to use Griottine cherries for a plump, juicy and boozy finish.
Ingredients: (makes 24)
105g unsalted butter, softened
285g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
180g plain flour
A pinch of salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
8g cocoa powder
125g plain chocolate (minimum 53% cocoa solids), chopped
350g Griottine cherries, in a jar of Kirsch syrup
60ml Kirsch syrup
Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 4 and line two 12-hole muffin trays with cases.
Place the butter and half the sugar in a bowl and cream until pale and fluffy. Lightly whisk the eggs in a jug and slowly add to the mixture. If it starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2-3 tablespoons of flour to rebind the batter. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into the batter and mix until just combined.
Place the chocolate, milk and the remaining sugar into a saucepan. Gently bring to the boil and stir until the chocolate and sugar have dissolved. Slowly pour the hot chocolate into the batter and mix. Scrape the bowl to make sure there are no lumps. Pour into a jug and, while it is still warm, fill the cases until two-thirds full. Drop 2-3 cherries into each.
Bake immediately for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. They are cooked when the tops are slightly dry and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or skewer into each, it should come out with a small amount of crumb sticking to it. Leave to rest in the trays for a few minutes outside of the oven and brush the tops with the syrup. Remove from the trays and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
To decorate: Use the cherry cream cheese frosting on page 60 and top with a whole cherry and some chocolate sprinkles.
60g caster sugar
Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring just to the boil. Stir until the sugar crystals have all dissolved, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool. Add a little kirsch syrup (drained from a jar of cherries) and kirsch liqueur to taste.
Basic cream cheese frosting:
250g full-fat cream cheese, slightly softened
250g unsalted butter, softened
625g icing sugar, sifted
Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
Place the butter and a third of the sugar into a separate bowl and cream until very pale and fluffy. Add another third of the sugar and repeat. Add the remaining sugar and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps remain. Add the cream cheese, a little at a time, and mix at a low speed until combined. Chill until firm enough to pipe.
Cherry: Add 4 tbsp kirsch syrup drained from a jar of Griottine cherries and a small amount of pink food colouring.
Edited extracts taken from 'Cakes In Bloom: The Art of Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers' by Peggy Porschen, £25; www.peggyporschen.com