clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Chocolate, Cherry & Cognac New Years Cake

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12 1x
  • Category: Baking


A real show stopper of a celebration cake for New Years Eve (but which is also great for birthdays!) that is deceptively easy to decorate.



For the Sponge

  • 50g (2 oz) Cocoa Powder
  • 6 tbsp Boiling Water
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) Whole Milk
  • 175g (6 oz) Self Raising Flour (for my American readers, this is how to mix your own)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 100g (4 oz) Soft Margarine (you can use soft unsalted butter, but your sponge will be heavier)
  • 275g (10 oz) Golden Caster Sugar (again, using granulated won’t kill you!)

For the Decoration

  • 300g (12 oz) Icing Sugar
  • 150g (6 oz) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp Cognac
  • Black Cherry Jam (I use Bonne Maman)
  • 3 Boxes (1 1/2 Christmas Edition Boxes) Cadbury Chocolate Fingers
  • Milk Chocolate Writing Icing
  • Edible Gold Stars (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (350 fahrenheit) and line two 2 x 20cm (8 inch) cake tins with a ring of baking parchment in the bottom.
  2. Using a hand whisk or a food mixer, beat together the cocoa powder and boiling water until you have a smooth paste, then add the rest of the cake ingredients. Beat until the batter is just smooth, and evenly divide them between the cake tins.
  3. Shake each tin a little to get rid of any air bubbles, and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sponge springs back from your touch and you can insert the tip of a sharp knife or cake tester into the middle, and it comes out clean. Only check the cakes by opening the oven door after 20 minutes, or they may sink in the middle. Set them aside to cool on a wire wrack, removing them from the tin as soon as the metal has cooled enough to touch.
  4. Meanwhile, make the buttercream by beating together the room temperature butter, icing sugar and cognac with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  5. To assemble the cake, place the flattest sponge on a cake stand. Spread over 1/4 of the buttercream, followed by an equal amount of jam, keeping about 1 cm clean around the edges. The jam will spread out when you put the other sponge on top.
  6. Smooth another 1/4 of the buttercream over the top of the cake, trying to keep a clean, smooth surface, and bringing it over the edge of the sponge for a tidy finish.
  7. Coat the sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream to create sides the chocolate fingers will stick to, and press them around the edge of the cake, taking care to keep them upright.
  8. Follow the instructions on the chocolate writing icing to activate it, and draw on the clock face, and set the time at a few minutes to twelve. Sprinkle the clock face with edible gold stars, and serve.