Cocoa nibs are what chocolate is made from and they will make a flavourful addition to your cooking. They are available from good chocolatiers or health food shops, although you will find that they are more reasonably priced in the latter. We know someone who used to sprinkle them on their morning muesli, which seems a very good idea.
This recipe – our nod to a mocha – uses the bitterness of cocoa nibs to complement the robust, roasted flavours of the coffee. If you can’t get hold of cocoa nibs you can substitute them with a good-quality 70% cocoa solids chocolate, just shaved with a vegetable peeler and sprinkled over the top. If you have only got one 20cm springform tin, as ever with our recipes, just bake the cakes one after another in the same tin.
For the cake
unsalted butter, for the tins
5 eggs, lightly beaten
250g sunflower oil
250g light muscovado sugar
250g self-raising flour
25g (5 heaped tbsp) instant coffee
pinch of sea salt
For the glaze
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee
For the cocoa nib icing
200g unsalted butter, softened
100g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
200g icing sugar, sifted
100g cocoa powder, sifted, plus 1 tbsp for the top (optional)
20g cocoa nibs
Preheat the oven to 155°C/fan 135°C/gas mark 3. Butter two 20cm springform cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
Whisk the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl (or use a food mixer fitted with the beater attachment), then add the flour, coffee and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined.
Spoon into the prepared tins. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before carefully releasing from the tins and turning out on to a wire rack. (Or bake them in the same tin, one after another.)
Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing the sugar, coffee and 3 tbsp of boiling water until the sugar has dissolved. Prick the cakes all over with a skewer and brush the syrup all over with a pastry brush. This reinforces the coffee flavour and helps keep the cake moist.
For the icing, ensure your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, which reduces the risk of lumps forming. Beat the butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl (or use a food mixer fitted with the beater attachment), then add the icing sugar and cocoa, beating again until thoroughly combined. Lastly fold in the cocoa nibs, reserving some for decoration.
Once the cake is cool, spread half the icing on the less attractive cake, then sandwich together and generously coat the top with the rest. Decorate with the reserved cocoa nibs and dust with the 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, if you like.