A friend requested a cake to give his goddaughter and niece, a Catalan tradition during Easter. More about that and some photos later. Several elements would ensure this cake could impersonate a local mona de pascua de chocolate (chocolate Easter cake) and not be spotted as an impostor: there should be chocolate eggs and coloured feathers on top, maybe some chopped almond or praliné on the side and a cute central cartoon-like figure. Yes, this cake was a first for me in many ways. I mean have you used coloured feathers on your cakes? 🙂 It was also my first time really decorating an Easter chocolate children’s cake! It was very strange keeping flavours simple but in-depth research (asking lots of kids over the years and giving them cake) shows they often want plainer flavours like chocolate and vanilla! I’m sure you know this already – I’m just very slow on the uptake. 🙂 And fast simple frosting is very popular, like this one combining softened butter, icing sugar, melted dark chocolate and vanilla essence. Here it fills and envelops a moist chocolate and vanilla sponge made with my trusty red velvet cake recipe but kicking out the slightly weird cinnamom (sorry cinnamom, I do love you). And I can see where children and many adults are coming from. Sometimes it’s great to have a slice of something sweet, simple and gooey! Drool. 🙂
The slice in front is from a prototype test-cake by the way. It would usually have a fluffier texture but I’m having disturbing oven issues (temperatures too high or low and fluctuating like you would not believe.. sob). It still works as a moist fudgy cake. Anyway, yours will be better. 🙂
But before the chocolate cake recipe here’s a quick run-down of stuff made the last few weeks, also involving simpler flavours. Mousse cakes, aka entremets, often have two different layers. The plan was a layer of raspberry then caramel mousse but I ran out of steam before the caramel mousse stage! Yes, even I have limits. lol. So it turned into a Very raspberry mousse cake with pistachios and thin layers of raspberry curd and raspberry glaze. Light, sharp and delicious like a raspberry, there’s something to be said for mono-flavours. Various cake testers and Instagram friends absolutely loved it so the recipe’s coming soon!
There were pink macaron shells decorating this cake and the extra shells were filled with left-over raspberry curd, goats’ cheese and black sesame seeds. Unfortunately the raspberry jostled unhappily for attention and lost to dominant goats’ cheese then the black sesame turned up late to party on the palate. Interesting, but those with just raspberry curd were better. Oh, and sprinkling some shells with gold powder just before baking worked!
Some Easter treats included the ultra-moist Tropical Simnel Easter cake with Guinness or rum, which packs a lot of flavour and a savoury Torta pasqualina, a spinach, ricotta and egg pie, traditionally baked in Italy for Easter. There’ll be more tweaking and eating of the torta before the recipe hits cyberspace. My chocolate hen was made using a beautifully-shaped mould bought in Gadgets and Cuina, Barcelona (they have online ordering) with tempered milk chocolate: brush three layers into the mould (refrigerating until firm between each layer) and make the edges thicker. Then unmould, brush melted chocolate on the edges and stick the halves together, which is when you discover how difficult it is keeping everything clean and free of fingerprints. I’ve now bought thin plastic gloves. The hen is filled with little chocolate eggs by the way. 🙂
I need to make some of those healthy Easter bliss ball eggs and cocoa bites. Soon! 🙂 Meanwhile let’s look at that chocolate cake!
Easter chocolate cake for children aka mona de pascua de chocolate
I must confess I bought the rabbit and feathers from a local bakery here in Barcelona where a very sweet little woman served me and brought out an enormous bag of feathers for me to choose from. But I did make everything else. This recipe is more of a point of departure and inspiration for you to create your own lovely Easter cake. Many of the monas here have fluffy little yellow chicks on top. Or you could have a big Lindt chocolate bunny surrounded by shop-bought mini chocolate eggs. All the decorative elements below are optional and replaceable. And it’s a lovely cake even without the feathers.
To make this cake you’ll need:
- a moist chocolate and vanilla sponge. I used my red velvet cake sponge recipe but with no cinnamom to make a sponge cake 19cm/7.5inch in diametre. You can use any trusted chocolate sponge recipe you prefer to make a 18cm/7inch to 20cm/8inch cake. If you have an erratic oven like mine you could get better results by using 2 lower sandwich tins – they help me bake faster and fluffier sponges. You can even buy a plain sponge if you prefer!
- simple chocolate icing, slightly adapted from the BBC good food’s chocolate buttercream icing recipe. I just reduced the quantity of vanilla essence a little.
- chopped almonds or praliné for the sides.
- dark chocolate shavings or curls to make the ‘nest’. Simply spread out dark tempered chocolate on a marble surface or table. Spread to and fro a few times with a metal spatula knife. When hardened scrape with a large knife at a 45 degree angle to get the shavings. Sorry, didn’t have time to take photos There’s also a simple method shown in a youtube video How to make cake shavings that just involves a knife and bar of chocolate (and no tempering). Yay?
- small chocolate egg halves for the border. Buy some or temper dark chocolate to fill mini egg moulds.
- 2 bigger eggs for the middle. I made one dark and one white, and filled with a little of the buttercream icing before sealing the halves together.
- A rabbit, hen or chick for the centre.
- Maybe some coloured feathers!
- When your sponge is cooled cut in half horizontally and trim the top. It’s a great time to check the texture of your sponge. Step by step instructions for a simple cutting method are found on my gâteau moka recipe.
- Make the chocolate buttercream icing.
- Fill the cake with a layer of the icing. Then cover the sides and top with the icing. You can find step by step icing instructions on the gâteau moka recipe (link above).
- Use your thumb or fingers to press some praliné or chopped (toasted) almonds into the sides around the bottom. You could also cover the sides completely with the palm of your hand.
- Place chocolate egg halves on the border and your central rabbit, duck or hen.
- Cover the top with chocolate shavings to make a kind of nest.
- Add any other eggs, chicks or rabbits, and maybe some feathers!
Yay! Happy Easter cake time! I couldn’t resist including photos my friend sent me of his niece and nephew with the cake. They’re so cute!
Of course you could make this cake all year around or for birthdays, and decorate with other stuff.
Eating and storing this cake
This cake keeps up to 3 or 4 days in the fridge (maybe more) in an airtight container. VERY IMPORTANT: take out of the fridge 1 hour before eating so the icing becomes soft again (the cold butter and chocolate in it makes it hard).
Part of me still thinks oh I should have made a nice French buttercream but the icing works. All my adult friends, including a French climber, enjoyed their slice of test-cake and said kids would love it.
Monas de pascua in Barcelona
Catalans will be giving these to their godsons and goddaughters in the next few days and traditionally it was eaten by the whole family on Easter Monday. You can see more about monas (including some chocolate sculptures) and Catalan Easter traditions on my recipe post from last year for traditional monas – Spanish Easter egg breads.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this slightly crazy colourful Easter chocolate and vanilla cake for children … and maybe adults? 🙂 I had fun making it and am now a little less afraid of cake decoration. You might enjoy making this cake too!
Nice to see you here (again) sweet reader! Whether you celebrate Easter or not I wish you a lovely weekend eating lots of wonderful things and having a brilliant time! Happy baking and eating! 🙂 x