Holiday Feature

Chocolate Voodoo Cake

Serves 10 to 12


Chocolate Voodoo Cake Drunken Zombie Cake
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup Myers dark rum
1/2 pound plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
   (2 tablespoons melted)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mocha Rum Mousse
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
1/4 cup brewed full-strength coffee
2 tablespoons Myers dark rum
1 cup heavy cream
3 large egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Blackened Molasses Glaze
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces

Chocolate Caramel Voodoo Needles
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate


Measuring cup, measuring spoons, small nonstick pan, 1-quart plastic container with tight-fitting lid, pastry brush, two 9 x 1-1/2 inch round cake pans, parchment paper, sifter, wax paper, double boiler, plastic wrap, whisk, electric mixer with paddle and balloon whip, rubber spatula, toothpick, 2 cardboard cake circles, 5-quart stainless steel bowl, 1-1/2 quart saucepan, cake spatula, 3-quart stainless steel bowl, 4 nonstick baking sheets, plastic container with lid, serrated slicer.

Why We Call It Drunken
Combine 1 cup raisins and 1/2 cup dark rum in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Allow to stand at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.


Make the Drunken Zombie Cake

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly coat the insides of two 9 x 1-1/2 inch cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment paper, then lightly coat the parchment paper with more melted butter. Set aside.

Combine together in a sifter 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Sift onto wax paper and set aside.

Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 10 ounces semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with plastic wrap. Allow to heat for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.

Place the remaining 1/2 pound butter and 1 cup brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating on medium for 30 seconds and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat on high for 30 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Operate the mixer on low while gradually adding the sifted dry ingredients. Once all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, turn off the mixer, add the rum-infused raisins, and mix on medium for 30 seconds (at this point, the aromas wafting up from the mixing bowl are quite extraordinary). Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Immediately divide the cake batter between the prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake on the center rack in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 32 to 35 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes at room temperature. Invert the cakes onto cake circles. Carefully remove the parchment paper. Place the cakes in the freezer for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (the cakes must be thoroughly cooled before adding the mousse, as described later).

Make the Mocha Rum Mousse

Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, 1/4 cup coffee, and 2 tablespoons dark rum in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with plastic wrap. Allow to heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a 5-quart stainless steel bowl and keep at room temperature until ready to use.

Place 1 cup heavy cream in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a well-chilled balloon whip. Whisk on high for 1 minute until peaks form. Set aside for a few moments.

Whisk 3 egg whites in a 3 -quart stainless steel bowl until soft peaks form, about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to quickly fold one third of the whisked egg whites into the melted chocolate. Then place the whipped cream and the remaining egg whites on top of the chocolate and use a rubber spatula to fold together until smooth and completely combined. Refrigerate the mocha rum mousse for 30 to 45 minutes (the mousse must be refrigerated until slightly firm before beginning to assemble the cake).

Begin Assembling The Cake

Remove the cake layers from the freezer or refrigerator and the mousse from the refrigerator. Reserve 1 cup of mousse and set aside in the refrigerator for a few moments. Spoon the remaining mousse onto one of the inverted cake layers, using a cake spatula to spread evenly to the edges. Place the other inverted cake layer on top of the mousse and press gently into place. Use a cake spatula to coat the top and sides of the cake with the reserved cup of mousse. Place the cake in the freezer while preparing the blackened molasses glaze and the voodoo needles.

Prepare The Blackened Molasses Glaze

Heat 3/4 cup heavy cream, 3 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons molasses in a 1-1/2-quart saucepan. Stir to dissolve the molasses, then bring to a boil. Place 6 ounces semisweet chocolate in a 3-quart stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Keep the glaze at room temperature forl hour before using (the glaze will thicken to the desired texture during that time period).

Prepare The Chocolate Caramel Voodoo Needles

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice in a 1-1/2 -quart saucepan. Stir with a whisk to combine (the sugar will resemble moist sand). Caramelize the sugar for 5-1/2 to 6 minutes over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to break up any lumps (the sugar will first turn clear as it liquefies, then light brown as it caramelizes). Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir to dissolve. Dip a wire whisk into the chocolate caramel and drizzle the hot caramel, in long thin lines, onto 4 nonstick baking sheets, one sheet at a time (move the whisk back and forth over the length of the baking sheets). Continue drizzling—making an effort to create as many individual long, thin, and separate chocolate caramel strips as possible—until all the caramel is used. Allow the strips to harden at room temperature, about 15 minutes. Break the strips into the desired size voodoo needles (3- to 4-inch needles make for delightful sticking). The voodoo needles may be stored in a tightly sealed plastic container in the freezer until needed (which may be sooner than you think, especially if an intruder sticks a finger into the glaze).

Finish Assembling The Cake

Remove the cake from the freezer. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Use a cake spatula to spread a smooth coating of glaze over the top and sides of the voodoo cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour to set the glaze.

To Serve

Heat the blade of a serrated slicer under hot running water and wipe the blade dry before cutting each slice. Place a piece of Chocolate Voodoo Cake in the center of each serving plate. Randomly stick the chocolate caramel voodoo needles into the cake slices (avoid thinking about your enemies at this time, if at all possible). Dispatch immediately.

The Chef's Touch

There is no witchcraft going on here, just a little fun. We tried to catch the spirit of the islands with this confection by using lots of rum, molasses, spices, and chocolate.

Although other brands of dark rum may be used, I prefer Myers's dark, with its no-nonsense, straightforward flavor that lives on beyond the baking of the cake—especially if you accompany each slice with a glass of this smooth island beverage.

The blackstrap molasses of choice for the glaze is Plantation "The Original" Brand. The rap on blackstrap is that it comes from the dregs of the barrel, its bitter flavor better suited for nonconfectionary use. Not so with Plantation brand. this turbid syrup has a refined and specific taste that gives a subtle finish to the completed dessert. Failing to locate this particular brand, I would suggest choosing another flavorful but not overpowering molasses.

Chocolate Voodoo Cake may be produced over a period of two to three days, rather than all in one day. The chocolate caramel voodoo needles may be prepared several days in advance, cool the needles thoroughly and store in a tightly sealed plastic container in the freezer (you never know when you may need them). The Chocolate Voodoo Cake may be baked one to two days in advance. Wrap the baked and cooled layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate until assembly.

After assembly, you may refrigerate this cake for two to three days before serving.



Desserts To Die For
by Marcel Desaulniers
Photographs by Michael Grand
Copyright (c) 1995 by Kenan Books, Inc.
Text (c) 1995 by Marcel Desaulniers.
Recipe reprinted by permission


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This page created December 1998; modified November 2006