Introduction: 64 Piece Chess Board Cake

Check Mate! You've got the end-game all figured out by the time you serve this delicious and novel cake. Your guests will love it...your nerdy chess-obsessed nephew will be speechless (briefly), and you'll bask in the glow of having created a Cake of Kings.

Great for a party or wedding and easily scaled up or down to meet your serving needs.

This chess cake is based on a delicious light sponge your grandmother would be proud of. A refreshing strawberry and white chocolate mousse filling is then covered with a strawberry cream. A glossy chocolate glaze is coated over each individual piece. Finally white chocolate tiles are placed to create the chess-board effect.

There'll be no cries of J'Adoube with this cake...once touched, it will be immediately consumed with eyes roving for the next move...

Let's begin.

Step 1: Ingredients for the Chocolate Molds

    We're going to make some chess pieces out of molded chocolate. And to do this we'll first make our own molds to cast the pieces from ingredients you'll have around the home. You'll need some actual chess pieces to form the molds so choose some pieces you like and let's get cracking.

    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 2 tablespoons cream of tarter
    • Boiling water

    Step 2: Adding and Mixing

    Add the flour and cream of tarter to a bowl along with the oil and a little water. Give it a mix then keep adding water a little at a time until the consistency is like a dough.

    Step 3: Bringing to a Ball

    Once the mixture is forming little clumps go in with your hands and kneed until it forms a ball. You may need to add a little more water until it forms a nice smooth ball.

    Step 4: Making Molds

    Choose a dish that is wide enough for the chess pieces to fit but not to big or you wont have enough dough. Using your fist push the dough down until it is flat, grab a chess piece and gently push it down into the dough until it is a little over half way in the dough. Repeat with the other pieces and then leave them in the dough for a few minutes so the dough can relax. If you don't leave the pieces in the dough and just take them out straight away the mold will get smaller and you will be left with a deformed mold. Once they have sat in the dough for a few minutes carefully and gently lift out each chess piece (and return them to your anxious nephew), then dip the end of a pastry brush in a little oil and lightly coat the molds with oil. Once this is all done pop the dish in the freezer until the dough is hard.

    Step 5: Making a Piping Bag

    If you don't have a piping bag, today you are going to learn how to make one.

    Cut a square of baking paper then on a diagonal cut the square in two. Lie one of the triangles flat with the straight edge facing you, grab one of the corners and carefully fold it around up to the top then fold the other side about coming up at the top.

    Step 6: Finishing the Piping Bag

    Line up the piping bag so you don't have a hole at the tip then fold down the top corners a few times so it holds the bag in place.

    Step 7: Melting and Filling

    To fill the molds you will need:

    80 grams of white chocolate

    20 grams of dark chocolate

    I am only making three chess pieces but you can make as many as you like using the same method. I am making 1 x white King, 1 x brown King and 1 x white Queen.

    Fill a pot about an inch high with boiling water then place a bowl on top making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Then melt the chocolate, one colour at a time. Fill a piping bag with the melted chocolate and fold the top down so when squeezing the bag the chocolate doesn't all come out the top. If you don't want to use a piping bag you can just use a spoon but I found its easier to get the chocolate down into the little grooves.

    Step 8: Piping

    Take the frozen molds out of the freezer then bush a little more oil onto the molds. Cut a small bit off the tip of the bag and quickly pipe in the chocolate to the top of the mold. Tap the mold a few times to get out the air bubbles. Repeat with the white chocolate. Now I found to get the least amount of air bubbles, push the chocolate into the grooves while piping.

    Step 9: Removing Chocolate Pieces From Mold

    Using a wooden skew gently push it into the mold trying not to ruin the mold as we need to do this all over again to make the other halves of the pieces. Once the chocolate has loosened from the mold lift it out, if a little of the dough has stuck to the chocolate just use the wooden skew to scrape it gently off. Now repeat the whole process to make the other halves. Being that the mold is chilled, the chocolate will set after a few minutes so you can repeat filling them almost straight away.

    Step 10: Joining the Brown King

    Heat a baking try or bottom of a pot then cover with baking paper. Put both black king pieces onto the baking paper flat side down. What we are trying to do here is melt down that chocolate until when you put the two halves together it looks like one piece. If it doesn't look right quickly pull them apart and melt them some more. If you don't pull them apart quick enough they will stick hard and you won't be able to pull them apart.

    Step 11: More Melting

    Do the same thing with the white queen. I found that when I stuck the white queen together there was a gap at the base, to fix that all I did was fill it in with some of the melted chocolate. Repeat with the white king.

    You've now completed this phase of the Chess Cake.

    Step 12: Ingredients for the Sponge Cake

    To make the sponge cake you will need:

    • 10 eggs
    • 425 grams sugar
    • 350 grams flour
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3 teaspoons butter
    • 10 tablespoons boiling water

    Step 13: Eggs and Sugar

    Add all of the eggs into a bowl along with the sugar and beat with a electric stand mixer on high for 15 minutes straight. It does take some time but the result is worth it as you'll have a wonderful thick and fluffy mix...and it gives you some time to prepare the other ingredients.

    Step 14: Preparing Some Ingredients

    In a bowl sieve the flour and baking powder then stir it through to make sure there aren't any baking powder spots. Next add the butter to the boiling water and leave it so the butter can melt in the heat.

    Step 15: Lining the Trays

    While the eggs are whipping this is a great time to line your trays. Here I am using three glass dishes that are 30 cm by 19 cm. I cut the paper slightly bigger then the bottom of the dish so it could so it could form up the sides a little. The reason why I do this is because the sponge sticks making it difficult to loosen from the bottom when it is cooked - you don't want any ripping.

    Step 16: Adding the Flour Mixture

    Once the eggs and sugar are fluffy and thick it is time to fold in the flour and baking powder. Add the flour and then fold it though, to fold cut down the middle then go around the side half way and up and over the top, it sort of looks like you are creating an air pocket each time you fold the mixture over. Keep doing this until the flour is completely combined with the egg mixture.

    Now I would suggest if you have beat the eggs in a tall bowl to transfer the mixture to a shallow and wide bowl so it is easier to fold in the flour. And also only add about a third of the flour at a time, all this will stop you getting lumps. I didn't do it this way the first time and I found it really hard to fold in all the flour and when I thought I had got it all folded in I found a pocket of flour at the bottom! Use a bigger and shallower bowl to make it easier.

    Step 17: Adding the Butter and Water Mixture

    Once you have folded in all the flour add the butter and water mixture (the butter should be melted by now) and fold it though using the same method as we did when folding in the flour.

    Step 18: Baking the Sponge

    Pour the sponge mixture evenly into the three lined dishes and spread them out as evenly as you can. Bake the sponge in a 180 degrees C (356 F) oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned and springs back to the touch. Use a butter knife to loosen the edges of the sponge then carefully tip it upside down onto a rack and peel off the paper, then revert the sponge right side up to cool completely. Once the sponges are cooled stack them up in a container with baking paper to separate the layers so they don't stick to each other then put in the freezer until they have frozen. Sponge is much easier to cut when frozen.

    Step 19: Cutting the Sponge

    To cut the sponge evenly I made myself a template to help cut it into even sized squares. To make the same template as I made all you need to do is find a straight piece of cardboard and cut it longer then the length of the sponge and 4 cm (40 mm) wide. Then I covered mine with baking paper securing it in place with some sellotape. Retrieve the frozen sponge and flip it upside down, using the template to cut off the rounded edges*.You should end up with a nice straight rectangle.

    * If the dish that you used when baking the sponge has straight sides then you probably won't need to cut the edges off.

    Step 20: Cutting Into Squares

    Once the sides are nice and straight it is time to cut the sponge into squares. Line the edge of the template to the edge of the sponge and cut the strip, aiming to make four strips. Once the strips are cut use the template again lining it up with the end edge of the strip and cut down, you will now have a 4 cm by 4 cm squares. Keep doing this until you have cut all of the sponges up - 64 squares in all.

    Step 21: Ingredients for the Strawberry and White Chocolate Mousse

    To make the mousse you will need:

    • 1 large lemon
    • 225 grams unsalted butter, softened
    • 65 grams frozen strawberry's
    • 225 grams white chocolate
    • 5 eggs separated
    • 50 grams sugar
    • 4 sheets gelatin

    Step 22: Making the Strawberry Puree

    In a food processor blend the strawberry's then leave the puree to thaw (if frozen). Use a spoon or spatula to push the puree though a fine sieve to remove all the seeds.

    Step 23: Lemon Rind

    Wash the lemon then peel off the zest (rind) making sure you don't include the pith (the white bit) which is bitter. Finely chop the peel - the finer the better.

    Step 24: Whipping Up

    Add the softened butter and lemon rind to a bowl and cream it using a stand mixer until it is really light and the colour of the butter is lighter then when you began. Whip it until it's light as air!

    Step 25: Gelatin

    Fill a bowl or jug with cold water and add in the gelatin sheets, then leave them to sit for around 10 minutes or until they have softened up.

    Step 26: Melt Away

    Add the white chocolate and strawberry puree to a pot and on low heat bring it almost to the boil then remove the pot from the heat.

    Step 27: Squeezing Hard

    Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl, then squeeze the gelatin really hard to remove as much of that water as you can. Using an electric mixer mix it up until that gelatin has dissolved in the chocolate/strawberry mix.

    Step 28: Yolks and Sugar

    Once the gelatin's mixed in it is time to add the sugar. Do this straight after the gelatin as the sugar needs heat to help dissolve the crystals. Add each egg yolk one at a time mixing in really quickly so the yolk doesn't have time to cook.

    Step 29: Egg Whites

    Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool and begin whipping the egg whites. Keep an eye on them and stop the beaters just when they hold stiff peaks.

    Step 30: Mixing Then Folding

    Into the chocolate mixture add the creamed butter and lemon rind and mix it though with a spatula until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the egg whites. To fold cut down the center then around the side about half way then lift the mixture over the top, keep going until the egg whites are completely folded in.

    Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge until it have firmed up a bit so its easier to use.

    Pro Tip: Don't mix - fold. Mixing in egg whites will deflate all that air we got when whipping the whites but folding keeps all the air in.

    Step 31: Piping the Centers

    You can do this step with a spoon and knife but I find piping is easier and faster. Put the piping bag with tip on a right angle (to stop leakage) in a tall glass or jar folding the top over the side. Fill with the mousse then pull up the folded-down sides and you are ready to go! Take some of the sponge squares out of the freezer and place the top square upside down above the bottom square so you can easily remember how they go back together. Pipe lines of the mousse onto the bottom square then take the top square that is above it and flip it the right way up and place on top. Keep doing this until all 64 sets of squares are filled.

    Step 32: Finishing Off and Freezing

    Once the centers are filled with the mousse using a knife or offset spatula gently spread flat any sticking out mousse. Place the sets of squares on the lid of the container that you are using leaving a little gap between each one then put the bottom half of the container on top. Doing it this way means when we can easily take the squares out without squishing them.

    Step 33: Ingredients to Make the Strawberry Cream

    To make the strawberry cream you will need:

    • 900 grams strawberry's (I used frozen)
    • 400 ml cream
    • 10 gelatin leaves

    Step 34: Chopping and Thawing

    In a food processor or blender chop up the strawberry's. Because my strawberry's were frozen I had to wait for them to thaw out once they were chopped up. To speed up the waiting time I filled a large wide bowl with hot water then sat the bowl of chopped strawberry's in the hot water making sure the water doesn't come up to the top as you don't want water getting into the strawberry puree! Once the puree has thawed out strain it though a sieve to remove the seeds. Now its time for cooking!

    Step 35: Blooming the Gelatin

    In some cold water add all of the gelatin leaves and leave to bloom until ready to use, around 10 minutes.

    Step 36: Heating and Cooling

    Heat the strawberry puree in a pot stirring the whole time until it is hotter then 60 degrees C (140 F). Once you see the temperature is above 60 degrees take it off the heat. Squeeze the gelatin well to remove as much of that water as you can then add it to the strawberry puree and stir until dissolved. Now we have to wait till it is cool, again I used a water bath but this time with cold water changing it when the water got warm.

    Step 37: Whipping and Folding

    Whip the cream until stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled puree using a spatula. Once the mixture is combined cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge to firm up. This will help when putting it on the sponge.

    Step 38: Filling in the Gaps

    Once the strawberry cream has firmed up take it out of the freezer and give it a few folds so its easier to use. Take a few sponges out of the freezer and using an offset spatula gently smooth out the filling if any remains sticking out. Grab a little blob of cream and smooth it into any gaps.

    Step 39: Adding More Strawberry Cream

    Once the gaps are filled add more cream to the top and sides making it as smooth as you can. If you don't have a offset spatula don't worry you can use a CD cover*, just make sure it is a thin CD cover as it will be much easier to use. Find the flat edge and gently scrape the excess off the sides, keep doing this until all the sides and top are smooth. Using a thin knife or offset spatula like I am doing gently lift up the sponge square and place it onto the lid of a container, keep going as you have another 63 more to go.

    * Go to the next step to see how to clean the CD cover before using with food.

    Step 40: Cleaning the CD Cover

    Find a dish of some sort and place the CD cover in the dish. Boil some water and pour it on top. Carefully take the cover out of the water and open it up dipping it in again to make sure it has had a good clean. When it comes out of the water it will mostly be dry but remove excess water with a paper towel.

    Step 41: Ingredients to Make the Chocolate Glaze

    To make the chocolate glaze you will need:

    • 20 grams gelatin sheets
    • 420 grams sugar
    • 220 grams water
    • 130 grams cocoa powder
    • 130 grams heavy cream
    • 100 grams dark chocolate

    Step 42: Getting Ready to Cook

    Into some cold water add the gelatin sheets making sure they are completely covered with water. Into a pot add the sugar, cocoa, water and cream.

    Step 43: Bringing to the Boil

    On a medium heat while stirring constantly bring the mixture to a boil then take it off the heat.

    Step 44: Chocolate and Gelatin

    Add the chocolate and stir until dissolved. Squeeze the gelatin to remove all the water then stir in the gelatin. You can use a whisk or stick blender for this if you like.

    Step 45: Removing Bubbles; Glazing

    Pour the glaze through a sieve into a jug or something that will be easy to pour with, this will help get rid of some of those bubbles. If you still have bubbles tap the jug gently to pop them. Put a cooling rack over a dish so when you pour the glaze over the sponge the excess will fall though the gaps and then you can reuse it by just staining it though a sieve to remove the bits of sponge that full though.

    Pro Tip: Pick out the big bits of sponge before staining to stop the sponge braking up into tiny pieces and making the glaze thick and lumpy.

    Once the glaze is at 44 degrees C (110 F) you can coat the cream covered sponge. Quickly pour the glaze over the square to completely cover the five sides, gently tap the rack then using an offset spatula pick it up and place it on a container lid.

    The big containers that I have been using for all the sponges were too big to fit in the little freezer that we have upstairs so I put it on an ice-cream tub lid and when I went down to get more sponges to glaze I would put the glazed sponges in the big container

    Step 46: Freezing

    Once you have glazed a few of the cakes lift them up and put them onto the big container lid. Be careful because if they touch another cake it will stick or pull the glaze off the cake. Clip the bottom half of the container into place and put it back in the freezer while you glaze more cakes.

    Step 47: Thinning Down

    When the glaze cools down it will start to thicken up, so to thin it out again all you need to do is heat it on a low heat on the stove in a pot until it's thin or 44 degrees C (110 F), then strain it though a sieve and tap it on the bench to pop any air bubbles.

    Step 48: Frozen Glaze

    After the glaze has been in the freezer this is what it will look like. It will be really thick but not too hard. I also re-glazed some cake as I could see some of the pink cream, I let them sit out for a minute then glazed them. To glaze again just do the same steps as when we first glazed the little cakes.

    Step 49: Making the White Chocolate Squares

    Melt 200 grams of white chocolate then pour it onto a board covered with baking paper. Using an offset spatula spread the chocolate out evenly. You don't want it too thin or too thick, aim for 2-3 mm thickness. It doesn't matter if some spots are thinner then others it will help even out the top of the cakes if some are shorter then others.

    Step 50: Letting It Set

    Gently cover the chocolate with baking paper starting from one side and going to the other pushing out the air bubbles are you go. Once the chocolate is slightly firm put a heavy board or book on top. This will stop the chocolate from warping or curving up at the corners and making it hard to cut. When the chocolate is hard take the board off and then peel the paper off the top.

    Step 51: Filling in Holes

    When you take the baking paper off the top of the chocolate you may some spots were an air bubble was. To fix this use the left over melted chocolate that we left in the bowl to fill in the holes, spreading it out smoothly.

    Step 52: Cutting the Chocolate Into Squares

    Using a ruler and thin knife cut three of the sides straight. Make marks 4 cm (40 mm) plus a few mm wide then cut the strip out. Repeat going the whole way across. When you get to the end were it isn't straight just keep cutting strips and then cutting the ends straight.

    Step 53: More Cutting

    Once you have cut a strip use the ruler again to mark 4 cm (40 mm) plus a few mm wide then cut the squares out. If you don't have enough squares then do the whole process again to get 32 nice squares. Put in a container and put in the fridge until ready to use.

    Step 54: Assembly

    I'll let the photos do the talking.

    This cake is extremely delicious...with all of those layers and flavours mingling together...just the right amount of moistness and creaminess.

    Hope you've enjoyed this.

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