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Rocky Road Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe

A most luxurious and stunning chocolate cake with a rocky road topping perfect for a birthday or special treat.

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A Perfect Birthday Surprise....


It is one of my oldest and closest friend's birthdays next week, we have known each other since we were very young and she has always been right there beside me through thick and thin.


She knows me probably better than I know myself, and it doesn't matter what scrapes I get into she will always be there.


Now as much as we love each other we also adore the dreaded 4 letter word that all women fear - C A K E - tut, tut - what word were you thinking of? Yes cake, we adore cake - what could be nicer than a cup of coffee and some freshly made cake and a good friend to talk to? We have always planned to go out to dinner, and I use the word dinner loosely here our plan is to go out and eat desserts, just desserts, just? How on earth can the word 'dessert' follow the word 'just'? We want to eat as many as our happy little piggy bellies can hold, unfortunately we've never managed to do this because actually we love all food and when we arrive at our favourite restaurants there's just too many yummy foods on the menu that we'd have to miss, but since it is going to be her 50th (did I say that out loud? LOL) I have decided to cook a couple of her favourite desserts in celebration, so she's going to have a very special sweetly indulgent birthday and I know she's going to love it.

The first cake I'm going to be making isn't on her list of favourites - YET! But I'm sure it is going to be at the top of her list after she's tasted this - it's certainly one of my all-time favourites. I'm taking into consideration some extremely important facts:


  • She loves chocolate
  • She loves cake, especially chocolate cake
  • She loves marshmallows and
  • She loves chocolate.

This Rocky Road Chocolate Cake is an indulgent, rich deeply satisfying cake that has a fudgy chocolate sponge topped with chocolate ganache and scattered with mini marshmallows and candied pecans - oh the very thought of it is making my mouth water.

Warning: This is not healthy, it is not low fat, it is not diet food, oh how I wish it was, it is very addictive and very fattening and I'm still going to make it - AND, if you put on weight after eating this don't blame me, although you could go out and exercise loads to work it all off and that would be the only healthy comment in this recipe. You have been warned!

I don't have to tell you what I'm making you can tell exactly what it is by reading the title, this cake is going to have chocolate in it, then another type of chocolate will be added - no such thing as too much chocolate right? Then surprise surprise chocolate is going to be drizzled all over the top of it - no doubt it will end up dripping down the sides of the cake too - do I care if it gets a little messy? Will you care if it gets a little messy? Who cares when it's chocolate! And then of course there are the gorgeous little white fluffy mounds of baby marshmallows that are going to to be sprinkled and drizzled with the chocolate ganache.

I may have to stop her trying to eat all those baby marshmallows before we cut the cake, then again it is her birthday and I love her to bits, so if that's what she wants to do then that's that's fine with me.

Ready - Steady - Cake!



Chocolate Sponge Cake (16cm cake tin):

2 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder

85ml Boiling Water

½ teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

50g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

65g Unsalted Butter, softened

175g Caster Sugar

1 large Free Range Eggs, at room temperature

½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

150g Plain Flour, sifted

65ml Soured Cream, at room temperature

I know there's a lot of ingredients here but it is much easier than you think it's going to be and definitely worth every second that goes into it. It is really important that you get everything prepared in advance and make sure that those ingredients that should be at room temperature are at room temperature, it's not just that I'm being picky, it really does make all the difference to the texture of the cake.


  • Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4.
  • TIP: If your butter isn't quite soft, you can always pop it in the oven while it's beginning to heat but don't forget to keep checking on it, you don't want it liquified just soft enough to cream.

  • Grease the cake tin and line it's base with baking paper.
  • Put the cocoa powder into a heatproof bowl and mix it to a smooth liquid with the boiling water.
  • Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and set aside to cool.
  • Break up the chocolate and place in another heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming hot (not boiling) water, making sure that the base of the bowl isn't touching the hot water turn off the heat and leave it to melt gently, do not stir, if you stir this it may become grainy and you want a lovely smooth chocolate, set this aside to cool.
  • Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl and beat for a minute with an electric mixer until creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar a few large dollops at a time for 4-5 minutes until creamy and light.
  • In a small bowl or cup mix together the egg and vanilla extract with a fork until broken up.
  • A tablespoon at a time add your egg and vanilla to the butter mixture, making sure that you beat the mixture well after each tablespoon.
  • Set aside your electric mixer and with a spatula gently fold in a third of the sifted flour to your mixture, followed by a third of the sour cream.
  • Continue doing this until all your flour and sour cream has been incorporated.
  • Mix the cocoa liquid into the melted chocolate and then fold that into the cake mixture until you have no streaks visible. It will look delicious and light, such a great texture at this stage.
  • Pour the cake mixture into your baking tin and spread evenly.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, or until risen and just firm, you can check if your cake is ready by pushing a wooden cocktail stick into the cake and if it comes out clean your are good to go.
  • Run a round-ended knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the sponge, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

While the sponge is cooling, prepare the toppings:


Candied Pecans:

½ cup of Pecans

2 tablespoons of Golden Caster Sugar

A tiny sprinkling of finely crushed Sea Salt

1 tablespoon of Melted Butter

  • Using a serrated knife chop the pecans (the serrated blade seems to grip them slightly and helps to prevent them from pinging all over the kitchen).
  • Place them in a bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar, stir so that the pecans are coated evenly, put them on a baking tray and pop in a hot oven for 2-4 minutes.

Note: Keep a close eye on this, don't walk away or do anything else, you do not want to burn them as they will be very bitter and they go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

Chocolate Frosting/Ganache:

84 gm / 3 oz Dark Chocolate

1 tablespoon of Butter

To make the ganache melt your chocolate and butter as described before over hot water and leave to cool. This method will give you a ganache that sets rather than a soft frosting.

Once your cake is cool, spread the ganache onto your cake leaving a little for a finishing drizzle, scatter with all the other little goodies that your heart desires and then sprinkle the rest of the ganache over the top of them to hold them onto the cake securely. Pop your masterpiece into the fridge and leave to set.

So if it's your friend's birthday and you want to celebrate do it in style and with thoughtfulness, think of everything they have ever given to you, think of what they would find most special and if you can - give it to them.


Happy Birthday Jane ♥

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If you loved this recipe then you'll probably feel the same about these:



Eileen Goodall (author) from Buckinghamshire, England on January 19, 2013:

This is a really good cake, and the chocolate sponge base is good enough to eat on it's own!

sadieanne from China on May 22, 2012:

This makes me soooo hungry!!!! Lovely Hubpage!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on April 16, 2012:

This is a cake I definitely have to try! It sounds fabulous, and I love the story that goes with it. What a wonderful thing to have such a good friend and I'm sure she loved your creation.

Eileen Goodall (author) from Buckinghamshire, England on March 25, 2012:

@Gypsy48 - OMG that would go really well with this cake!

Gypsy48 on March 25, 2012:

Cake looks devine. BTW I was just devouring a bowl of rocky road ice cream when I came across this hub!

digging on March 22, 2012:

Wow! That looks amazing. Dark chocolate, pecans, and marshmallows. Well done.

Eileen Goodall (author) from Buckinghamshire, England on March 22, 2012:

Even if you're just looking for a chocolate cake, this sponge is the best I've had, hot or cold, fudgy and deeply flavoured.

emilybee on March 22, 2012:

Delicious!! And great ingredients too!!!! I mean, I know it says its not low fat, but I think cooking desserts with great, pure, ingredients make a dessert not AS bad :) Voted up!!!

CookwareBliss from Winneconne, WI on March 22, 2012:

Oh my god, this looks amazing! I will have to try this out soon!

RTalloni on March 22, 2012:

Oh me oh my oh, how good this looks! I am going to calmly sign off HP for now so as not to hurt myself getting to the kitchen. A little something chocolate will tide me over until I can make a chocolate cake. Your surprise for your friend will make for a lovely birthday celebration!

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