How do you celebrate the best damn husband in all the world? Try and ruin him by making him diabetic, naturally!
Readers will know that my Lovely One has the sweetest tooth in god’s creation. He will quite happily destroy a tub of Haribos in under 15 minutes and considers serving suggestions a slur on his good name. While in Australia (blogpost coming soon!) he had evangelised about the beauty of the “Iced VoVo”, allegedly the world’s best biscuit.
Now I have eaten a VoVo or two in my time (fnarr fnarr) and they are a goodly biccy. Crisp, satisfying and fruity with a lovely sweet lingering aftertaste. The mission was to turn this into a birthday cake worthy of my husband. TO THE INTERNET!
The runners and riders
There are a few VoVo inspired recipes out there, falling into one of two categories: Decorated to LOOK like a VoVo or inspired by a VoVo in using raspberry and coconut flavours.
Frankie Magazine definitely opted for the former in their recipe, a cute looking cake but sone which risked being rather boring to taste, being a basic-bitch thick sponge topped with jam and icing. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a Tottenham cake (which is frankly what this is) but it’s not exactly the CELEBRATION I was after.
Far more on the money was this Delicious.au ice-cream cake which was definitely taking the VoVo inspiration and running with it. But I wondered (aside from the obvious difficulty of getting away with serving a freezing dessert in a cold London February) if it wasn’t a little TOO far away from the original. Using ground almond in the cake was obviously a pisstake (dammit Karen it’s COCONUT) and while I agree that coconut and raspberry gelato gets the right flavour combo, it all seemed a little TOO tasteful. The point of a VoVo is the trashy pink-red colour combo and hiding it under layers of tasteful marscapone seemed a bit wishy-washy. Also, this cake does NOT “change everything”, Delicious.au. Please tone it done.
Finally, I approached this Taste.au Arnotts VoVo tart with caution. A) Because it’s a tart and dammit I am not playing with pastry for a birthday celebration and B) melting marshmallow? Who do I look like, Willy Fucking Wonka? But the longer I considered it, the more it made sense. Why not take the marshmallowy goodness of the biccy and put it in a cake?
It seemed to me that a combination of approaches was required. Firstly, I had no intention of retaining the unfortunately-labia like decoration on the top. This was because it didn’t seem especially BIRTHDAY and also because a birthday cake is something I associate with layers, icing and lots of candles. There’s no reason I couldn’t do a square cake but I didn’t want to be constrained by having the essentially VoVo-ness of the cake confined to the topping.
With that rule out of the window, there was a lot of freedom. I wanted a good solid coconutty sponge, and wanted to take the inspiration of the taste.aus recipe’s use of actual marshmallow. I also wanted a clear, thick layer of fruity ness and decided a fresh fruit jelly was the way forwards. Finishing the dream cake would be a matter of fancy piping and fresh raspberries to offset the potentially sickly icing. The bonus of this approach was being able to use my favourite German coconut sponge cake recipe from “Sweet Dreams” magazine issue from Summer 2017 which honestly is the best cake and dessert magazine in the world, being described as being for “Backfeen und Naschekatzen” (bake-fairies and snack-cats – which is just too cute).
A word of warning – this takes two days and a great deal of patience to complete. If you are reading this thinking “I’ve got a few hours to find the perfect birthday recipe, this will do” then STEP AWAY AND GO TO NIGELLA because this is not for you. Go on, sod off.
Right, the rest of you: prepare yourselves.
Iced VoVo Torte
Serves 16 – make the coconut sponge and jelly on day 1 (about 2 hours) and complete and assemble on day 2 (2 hours).
150g unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
225g plain flour
50g dessicated coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 x 20cm sponge tins. Don’t freak out too much about this being a fandango, it’s a pretty solid recipe.
2. Cream the butter until it is whitish and smooth, adding in LOTS of air. When creamed, add the sugar gradually until fluffy. This should take about 3-5 minutes. When all the sugar is in and the mixture is smooth, beat the eggs in one by one. The German recipe I used instructed me via google to “individually disturb the eggs thoroughly” which was a little odd but this worked for me. Finally stir in your vanilla.
3. Mix the dry ingredient together, then fold in three goes, loosening the mixture with your yoghurt as you go.
4. Smooth the dough into the pans (don’t worry about weighing them or anything, just approximately spooning out the mix in half is fine), and bake for 25 minutes.
5. When done, they’ll be risen and golden and will smell GREAT. Let them cool on a rack before turning out. Keep in a cake tin overnight so they don’t dry out.
Fresh Raspberry Jelly
1.5 tbsp powdered gelatine
1 x 200g pack fresh raspberries
1 x cup water
2 tbsp caster sugar
1. This is piss-easy, I promise. First, boil a bit of water and put about 8 tbsp of it in a small bowl. Sprinkle in the gelatine and let it sit for a bit.
2. Put the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and whizz to a lovely paste. Then strain through a mesh sieve (it may need a bit of help with a spoon) and you should have about a cup/cup and a half of raspberry juice without too many seeds.
3. Stir the gelatine to make sure it’s clear. If it’s not, heat it gently by popping in a bowl over simmering water. Then stir the gelatine into the juice.
4. Pour into a shallow bowl or soup bowl lined with cling film and pop in the fridge to firm up. Make sure your bowl is smaller than 20cm wide across the base or it will flop out of your cake and you will be all SAD FACE.
1 x 200g pack of marshmallows (any old white or pink mallows will do)
4 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
pink food colouring (I used a few dabs of sugarflair’s excellent gels)
300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
1. This too is super-easy. Pop the milk and marshmallow in a pan and stick over a slow heat (i.e. LOW). Stir gently, after a few minutes it will be melty and strange and you will think OH HELL NO but you should persevere. It will go smooth after a while.
2. Take off of the heat and stir in the vanilla and food colouring until bright pink. Then LET IT COOL for at least 7 minutes (honestly, you do not want your cream to melt)
3. Take your cream and fold in a few large spoons to loosen the mallow, then fold in the rest of the cream. It will be a soft pink, smell like vanilla cream and be really rather sweet!
2 x coconut sponges, trimmed flat
1 x raspberry jelly, fridge-cold
1 x quantity marshmallow icing
300ml cream, whipped to firmish peaks
3 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
shredded coconut, to decorate
white chocolate stars, to decorate
1. First, make sure your coconut sponges are trimmed flat so there’s no dome. Pop the bottom one (invariably the less neat one!) on the serving plate on strips of grease proof so you can ice without the risk of mess.
2. Turn the jelly out onto the bottom sponge, then smooth over slightly more than a third of the marshmallow icing. Then take the top sponge, spread the bottom with jam and place on top.
3. Spread the rest of the pink icing over the top and sides to fill in any gaps between the sponges. Make sure the top has a nice thick layer but don’t panic about the sides – you’ll be covering this with cream.
4. Take your whipped cream and put in a piping bag with a star nozzle. Pipe rosettes around the edge of the top then cover the sides with stripes of cream to cover the pink. Top each rosette with a raspberry then sprinkle coconut and white stars in the middle. Et VOILA.