Avid maker of sweet stuff Amy Cooke-Hodgson usually ditches her beloved baking when she’s at the Fringe, but this year she’s worked around it by creating a super-simple recipe. The results sound dangerously delicious.
For the past 10 years, I’ve spent my Augusts in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival. As well as the thrill of performing daily and being cocooned in an artistic and creative bubble that makes the other 11 months of the year spent in preparation suddenly seem worthwhile, it also means plummeting vitamin D levels from a lack of sunlight, being inexplicably tired no matter how much you sleep and having to stay in grotty, student-style accommodation since Edinburgh rents rocket to double that of London for the four short weeks.
That said, it isn’t as bad as it used to be. Gone are the years of sleeping three to a bed in every room and arranging a rota for the shower in the morning (true story). I’ve graduated to having my own room and only share my bed when I choose to. Though we do still play the lottery each summer of ‘how accurate is the agent’s description?’ Will there be more than one saucepan? Will the shower head stay upright if we use enough gaffer tape? Will the mattress contain rocks sourced from Arthur’s Seat?
It all means that, as a rule, August is usually a baking-free month for me, because the likelihood of there being a cake tin or hand-held mixer in the flat is slim.
That is, until this year.
Two of my fellow cast members celebrate their birthday each year during the Fringe and this year I made it my mission to treat them to homemade cake rather than relying on a last-minute panic dash to Scotmid. Of course I needed a recipe that required little or no baking and contained easily sourced ingredients. And so it was decided: no-bake truffle cakes.
I’ll be honest – I’m conflicted. I’ve made these cakes dozens of times and every time I get a similar response (“What in the name of goodness is in this heavenly treat?”). By actually admitting how easy they are to make, I fear that people’s enjoyment of them might diminish and they may even think less of me as a baker.
But sod it. Here it is: the perfect, easy to make, cheat of a crowd-pleaser you can knock up even in a kitchen with little to no equipment, while nursing a blinding hangover and dealing with a screaming partner/toddler who questions your life choice to work in the arts.
Ingredients: (makes approx 18)
8 large chocolate muffins
Two heaped tablespoons of chocolate buttercream frosting (e.g. Betty Crocker style pre-made chocolate frosting or even Nutella)
In a large bowl, crumble the muffins into cake crumbs, as fine as you can get them.
Add the frosting/Nutella and mix well. Towards the end, use your hands to ensure it’s well dispersed. It will look like a huge lump of playdough at this stage: try to restrain yourself from making chocolate dough sculptures, as it creates cracks in the mixture.
Make balls of cake dough about the size of a golf ball, place on a baking tray and store in the fridge for about an hour. (If it’s too hard to roll in to a ball, add a bit more frosting.)
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie.
Roll the dough balls in the melted chocolate using two spoons, ensuring they have a complete coating and then place on a plate or tray lined with foil or baking paper.
Decorate the balls with sprinkles and/or glitter before the chocolate starts to harden (I tend to coat and sprinkle in batches of four at a time).
Return to the fridge for at least an hour or until the chocolate is thoroughly hardened.
Place each truffle cake in a colourful paper case if you fancy being fancy, or alternatively keep in a tin in a cool place (don’t expect them to last too long, though – once the word is out where they’re kept, sneaky fingers will find it hard to resist).
Why not customise your recipe? Here are a few things I’ve done in the past.
Add a couple of drops of orange oil (or indeed any flavoured oil) to the melted chocolate mix. Usual cake flavourings won’t work since they are nearly always water-based and will play havoc with molten chocolate.
Add a handful of chocolate chips, chopped nuts, marshmallows or dried fruit to the cake dough mix. Just make sure whatever you choose is chopped really small.
Use a Jamaican ginger cake instead of chocolate muffins, with a dark chocolate coating for a Christmassy feel.
Use vanilla sponge with raspberry jam to combine, coated in white chocolate for a Victoria sponge take on the recipe.
How about peanut butter instead of frosting as the ‘glue’?
I’d love to hear your ideas for variations – tweet me @amycookehodgson.
Amy co-founded and performs with Comedy Award winning Austentatious – the improvised Jane Austen Novel. They can be seen at the Edinburgh Festival (Udderbelly) and at their London residency at the Leicester Square Theatre. She can also be seen improvising Enid Blyton with @BlytonImpro and currently on US telly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzyGVXuRIV45620 Views
Amy is an actor, improviser and singer currently appearing in award-winning improv show Austentatious. You can also visit her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RowleyandCooke