Honey Bee Cake
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
- 1 1/3 cups soft light brown sugar
- 2 sticks soft butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa
- 1 cup boiling water
- Sticky Honey Glaze:
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 ounce yellow marzipan
- 12 flaked almonds
- Special equipment: 9-inch springform tin
Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come to room temperature, and while that's happening, melt the chocolate from the cake part of the ingredients list in a good-sized bowl, either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter and line a 9-inch springform tin.
Beat together the sugar and soft butter until airy and creamy, and then add the honey.
Add 1 of the eggs, beating it in with a tablespoon of the flour, and then the other egg with another tablespoon of flour. Fold in the melted chocolate, and then the rest of the flour and baking soda. Add the cocoa pushed through a tea strainer to ensure you have no lumps, and last of all, beat in the boiling water. Mix everything well to make a smooth batter and pour into the prepared tin. Cook for up to 1 1/2 hours, though check the cake after 45 minutes and if it is getting too dark, cover the top lightly with aluminium foil and keep checking every 15 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely in the tin on a rack.
To make the glaze, bring the water and honey to a boil in a saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate, swirling it around to melt in the hot liquid. Leave it for a few minutes, then whisk together. Add the sugar through a sieve and whisk again until smooth.
Choose your plate or stand, and cut out 4 strips of baking paper and form a square outline on the plate. This is so that when you sit the cake on and ice it, the icing will not run out all over the plate. Unclip the tin and set the thoroughly cooled cake on the prepared plate. Pour the glaze over the cold honey bee cake; it might dribble a bit down the edges, but don't worry too much about that. The glaze stays tacky for ages (this is what gives it its lovely melting gooiness) so ice in time for the glaze to harden a little, say at least an hour before you want to serve it. Keep the pan of glaze, (don't wash it up), as you will need it to make the stripes on the bees.
Divide the marzipan into 6 even pieces and shape them into fat, sausage-like bees' bodies, slightly tapered at the ends.
Using a wooden skewer, paint stripes with the sticky honey glaze left in the pan from icing the cake. About 3 stripes look best, and then very carefully attach the flaked almonds at an angle to make the bees' wings, 2 on each one. They might snap as you dig them into the marzipan bodies, so have some spare. I'm afraid to admit, I also like to give them eyes by dipping the point of the skewer in the glaze and thence on the bees: they look more loveable with an expression, which is somehow what the eyes give them, but then this is where the Disney effect comes in. If a more imperial dignity is required, forgo the dotting of the eyes and present this as your Napoleonic Chocolate Cake.
Recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson
(Copyright 2004, Feast, Hyperion, All Rights Reserved)