Gradame Cake – Dark chocolate, hazelnut, brandy, coffee – or chocolate, lavender, hazelnut, brandy

As before, an egg foam cake. But this chocolate is a little moister, a little denser and a little darker.

There’s no chocolate in it – just cocoa, brown sugar, eggs and a stabiliser.

I'm ready for my close-up ;)

Simplicity is key.

Layers of airy chocolate sponge, lashed with drunken coffee syrup and interspersed with double cream whipped with brandy and hazelnut. To aid easy serving, some brandy-chocolate shortcrust pastry on the bottom (optional).

Decorated with a cryptic message to add an air of mystery 😛

Cryptic Cake

Or, if the fancy takes you, with flowers. I made this cake a second time, but with just normal cream. I stabilise the cream with icing sugar and gelatine, and you can see that even though I stirred in some colouring after whipping the cream (I hadn’t realised I wanted flowers when I started whipping…) and then shoved it in a pastry bag to pipe, the cream held its shape. I can assure you that it was perfectly fluffy, too. For this cake, I had some leftover lavender syrup, so I used that as the cake syrup instead.

oranje  boooooven~

Errr for any Dutch speakers, apologies if I miss-spelled ‘gellukkig’ with an extraneous ‘e’ at the end… I’m learning Dutch and I could have sworn it should have an ‘e’ because ‘moeder’ and ‘dag’ are both prefaced with ‘de’, and not ‘het’, but according to my grandmother, it’s wrong… Actually, if you do speak Dutch, could you tell me if/why it’s wrong? 🙂

Chocolate, hazelnut, coffee, brandy layer cake

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy, but tedious
  • Print

Modelled off The Guardian

Chocolate-brandy shortcrust

  • 100g flour
  • 30g cocoa
  • 50g sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 20mL brandy
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Chill 20 minutes.
  3. Roll out to 20 × 20 cm, or 5mm thick.
  4. Place on lined baking tray.
  5. Prick all over with fork.
  6. Bake 180°C for 15 minutes.

Coffee Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbs coffee
  • 1 tsp brandy
  1. In a pot, heat the sugar and water (equal quantities of each is called a ‘simple syrup’) until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Stir in the coffee and brandy, and remove from the heat.
  3. Cool.

Lavender Syrup

  • A generous handful of lavender flowers, washed (you could also do this with rosemary)
  • Boiling water
  • Sugar
  • Whole spices (e.g. cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom – optional)
  1. Pour the boiling water over the lavender and spices, enough to cover and a bit more.
  2. Leave to steep at least overnight.
  3. Remove the solids and keep the liquid tisane.
  4. Measure out an equal quantity of sugar to the water.
  5. Warm the sugar and water on the stove, stirring, until sugar dissolves.
  6. Cool.

Chocolate Sponge

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 140g brown sugar
  • 60g cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, or salt, or lemon juice (optional – these act as stabilisers for the egg white)
  1. Mix the sugar and yolks with a beater until lighter and ribbony.
  2. Mix in the cocoa.
  3. Whip the egg white with a stabiliser to stiff peaks.
  4. Spoon in some egg white to the egg yolk, and stir to loosen.
  5. Gently fold in the remaining egg white.
  6. Pour into a greased and lined 20 × 20 × 10 cm tin.
  7. Bake 35 minutes, 180°C.
  8. Cool in tin.
  9. If cake sinks in the middle, then run a knife parallel to the top surface and remove sticking-up margins.
  10. Cut the cake into two layers.

Stabilised Whipped Cream

  • 500mL double or normal cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1tsp gelatin
  • 1 Tbs water
  • hazelnut flavouring or liqueur (I used 0.5mL, but my flavouring was very strong, so it might be different for you…)
  • 1Tbs brandy
  1. Hydrate the gelatine with the water. Zap in the microwave until fully dissolved.
  2. Stir the icing sugar, flavouring and alcohol (and colouring, if you want) gently into the cream to incorporate fully.
  3. Whip the cream to very soft peaks.
  4. Pour the liquid gelatine in, while whipping.
  5. Continue whipping to stiff peaks.


  1. Put the pastry on the bottom.
  2. Spread a small bit of cream on, as a crumb coat.
  3. Spread a thicker layer of cream on.
  4. Place a layer of cake on.
  5. Brush liberally with syrup.
  6. Repeat cream procedure.
  7. Repeat with final cake and cream layers.
  8. Trim sides.
  9. Optional: Cover sides with cream.
  10. Optional: Decorate with more cream or other decorations.
  11. Refrigerate.


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