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14 February 2010

CHOCOLATE VALENTINES


Calling all Chocolate Lovers! Is there a day that’s more appropriate to celebrate with chocolate than Valentines day? I don’t think so.


To honor the ultimate chocolate holiday, I’ve gathered a group of bloggers who are all making something with chocolate today. Belgian chocolate, of course! I hope you’ll cruise around and visit them. I know they've all made something wonderful from their chocolate. Unless, of course, they've just eaten it and not told me...hmmmm, maybe you'd better go check. I'll wait.



The Chocolateers are:

2 Stews

A Southern Grace

A Spoonful of Thyme

Cooking Stuff

Hungry Dog

Junglefrog Cooking

Kitchen Butterfly

La Table de Nana

Nightowlchef

Normandy Life

Once in a Blue Moon

The Gypsy Chef


I’ve made something chocolate as well. You knew I would. I made a Chocolate Prune Cardamom cake. I found this recipe on Pastry Studio, where I also found the Cardamom Upside-down Cake. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew that I’d have to make it. Chocolate and cardamom--is anything better than that? Yes, actually. It turns out that you can improve on chocolate and cardamom.


This recipe has prunes in it. Now wait. Don’t scrunch up your face like that. Have I ever led you astray? Remember the fish with anchovies in the bread crumbs? Wasn’t that good? Stop wrinkling your nose, then. Let’s just call them dried plums. Better? Ok, then. These dried plums are soaked in Earl Grey tea to give them a lovely flavor of bergamot. In the cake they add a moist sweetness that makes people ask what’s in there.


This recipe also uses canola oil, (or colza or rapeseed oil, depending on where you live), which was a surprise. It added an interesting flavor to the other interesting flavors. Although I never would have thought to use it, I really liked it in this.


The combination of chocolate, cardamom, dried plums, earl grey tea, and canola/colza/rapeseed oil was gorgeous. In fact, this cake exceeded my veryvery high expectations for it. It was amazing. This is real company food. The glaze was perfect--it reflected the flowers I put on it like a chocolate mirror. We served this with a small scoop of vanilla gelato, and that’s all it needed.


In truth, I changed this recipe very little. It was written for an 8-inch cake pan, and I only had a 24 cm one, which is about 9.45 inches. If I remember my high school geometry correctly, the area of a circle is pi x radius squared*, which means that...lemesee...carry the one...divided by...(counting on toes)... my 24 cm pan holds about 39.53% more than an 8 inch one. See? And you thought you didn’t need geometry. Sister Mary Francis would be proud of me now.


So I increased everything by 50%. I tried to use 1.3953 eggs, but it was easier just to use one egg and one egg yolk. Oh. Sister Mary Francis is now disappointed in me. Again. I’m sure this is going on my permanent record. Again. Sigh.


Where was I? Oh, yes. So I increased everything by 50%. Except the cardamom. I doubled that. And the cocoa too, because I always increase the chocolate content of whatever I bake. Oh, and the lemon zest too, because who can zest 3/4 of a lemon?


Because I made more batter than the 1.3953% that I needed, I had some left over (exactly 10.47%. See Sister?) So I made some cupcakes with the extra. 3.643 cupcakes, to be exact. No, actually it was four. (Too late. I’ve got detention for making that fraction up. Again.)


Are you still here? Then you deserve a reward. And you shall have it! Here’s the recipe for this amazing cake. If you have an 8-inch cake pan, the recipe is here. If you have a 9.45 inch pan or even a 9 inch pan you probably want my version. Sister Mary Francis says it’s ok to make cupcakes with the leftover batter. But you’ll have to send her one or it’ll go on YOUR permanent record too.


Chocolate Prune Cardamom Cake

from Pastry Studio

30 prunes

3 Earl Grey tea bags

Boiling water to steep tea (about 1 cup)

210 g / 1 1/2 cups cake flour

3 Tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

175 ml / 3/4 cup canola/colza/rapeseed oil

315 g / 1 1/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

zest of 1 lemon

175 ml / 3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Chocolate cardamom glaze


1 cup heavy cream

1 Teaspoon corn syrup

8 cardamom pods

220 g / 8 oz dark chocolate


  • Boil the water and steep the tea. You’ll want it strong for this.
  • Chop the prunes fine--about the size of raisins. When the tea is done, remove the tea bags and put the prunes into a bowl with the tea. Leave them in the tea for about 1/2 hour, or until they’re softened but not mushy. You want them to hold their shape.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 160 C / 350 F. Cut a circle of parchment or baking paper to fit the bottom of your pan. Lightly oil the pan, put the paper in it and oil the paper too.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Drain the prunes well.
  • Whisk together the oil, sugar, egg and yolk until smooth and well blended. Add lemon zest, yogurt an vanilla. Slowly sift in the dry ingredients, stirring until well blended.
  • Fold in the drained prunes. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out on a wire rack. Peel the paper off the cake and let it cool completely.


I made cupcakes with the extra batter. I baked them for about 20 minutes, AFTER the cake had come out of the oven. It didn’t seem to hurt the batter to sit for 45 minutes waiting.


Make the Glaze:

  • Chop the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a medium bowl.
  • Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Crush the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle and add to the cream. Take off the heat, cover and let steep for about 1/2 hour.
  • When the cake is completely cool, place it on a 9 inch/24 cm cardboard round or removable tart pan bottom. Put it back on the cooling rack and put a baking sheet lined with parchment paper under it.
  • Strain the cardamom out of the cream and reheat until just simmering. Watch it carefully--you don’t want it to boil because then it will develop a skin that you’ll just have to get rid of. When the cream is just starting to steam, pour it over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Then stir slowly and gently, starting in the middle until thoroughly combined and then working outward in concentric circles until the mixture comes together. It will. Have faith.
  • Pour the glaze quickly in the center of the cake and around the edges. Let it run off. If necessary, tap the baking sheet on your work surface to encourage the glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Just as it begins to dry, run a small spatula around the underside of the cardboard round to smooth the bottom edge and prevent ‘feet’ from forming. Let the glaze firm up before serving.


Serves 12 if you’re being elegant or 8 if you’re feeling piggish. Or if you’re all alone, nobody will know how many it would have served.



Notes:

  • The original recipe called for buttermilk. I don’t have that, so I used plain yogurt.
  • I don’t have vanilla extract, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla powder.
  • The original recipe called for bittersweet chocolate. I used a very dark (74%) chocolate.
  • I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup.
  • I didn’t have a cardboard to put under the cake, and my tart pan bottom is larger than the cake (no comments on large bottoms, please). I put it on a plate and glazed it there. I wished later that I had taken the time to cut a piece of cardboard the size of the cake pan so that I could have let the excess glaze run off the cake. It would have been more attractive than the ‘feet’ that I ended up with. This is such a beautiful cake that it’s worth the extra step.
  • I had glaze left over. I used it on the cupcakes, natch.
  • I had found some edible yellow pansies the day before I made this cake, so I put them on the top to decorate it.


* Did you notice that I did NOT make any cracks about pi R squared and cakes R round? Oh, darn. I guess I did... I know, Sister, I know. Again.

34 comments:

Ginny said...

wow! yummy! Happy Valentine's Day! :) I love any excuse to eat chocolate!

nightowlchef said...

Kate, you crack me up! The engineer in me appreciated the math. :) But back to the chocolate ... OH, the chocolate! AND cardamom! You must have known how much I love cardamom ... and prunes ... yes, I admit it, too. I will SO be making this cake, and soon.

Thank you for hosting this wonderful Valentine's Day blogging event ... I am indeed a very happy chocolateer!

WizzyTheStick said...

Honestly maybe this cake should be called, "The stuff you didn't have cake" I love your math. I cook like this all the time so I can 'follow' this recipe. Easy! LOL

Pam said...

The chocolate part I understand, the math part...not so much.

zurin said...

I ma curious..choc and cardomaom....I must gv it a go....if u say its good and the fact that it looks good = Fabulous...i will try this. TQ n happy valentine! ^^

Maggie B said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Kate.
Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed being one of your Chocolateers! I'm not what I would call a foody blogger but I really had fun with this. Such a great idea & the chocolate, wow!! heavenly.
~maggie~

2 Stews said...

Oh, I think Sister Mary Francis would be proud. Go Sista!

Cardamom is a new favorite of mine...love it and love your recipe with the chocolate.

Thanks for making me a Chocolateer...it was fun. You have a heart of gold.

Happy Valentines Day!

Diane

Barbara said...

Well Kate, I am one of those odd balls who actually LIKES prunes. So this is sounding (and looking) like a winner to me!

Nice little bunch of baby
Valentines on the top too!

This was a fun idea on Valentine's Day. Loved going to see what everyone made!

The Gypsy Chef said...

Kate, Sister Mary Francis be damned, you did a beautiful job.
If I only could have gotte
n my hands on one of those cupcakes. I am a firm believer in cardamom and chocolate, so this cake is now on my list.
Thanks for hosting the Chocolate Valentines.....this has been great fun.
Now, could you help me with my algebra? Your such a math whiz!
Pam

The Gypsy Chef said...

One more thing.....I love those little hearts at the to[. You certainly have gotten the white balance down pat! Bravo Kat!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

No I would not turn up my nose at this, but I did scratch my head with that math. This looks so moist and flavorful.

lostpastremembered said...

You don't have to sell me on prunes!!! I found a great recipe with them soaked in earl gray on a portuguese site and fell in love... so clever to put that with chocolate... and cardamom??? You're killing me!!! This just got copied into my cake file... and I know there's a birthday coming up!!!! Thanks for a great recipe and an absolutely delightful reporting job... I love reading all the changes we sometimes make to a dish...it's like being around your kitchen table while you make it!! Happy Valentines!!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

A beautiful, perfect slice. Again, another funny, witty post with lots of drool-worthy food pics. That cake is just out of this world. Happy Valentine's Day, Kate!

grace said...

kate. this is ridiculously decadent. i have to admit, seeing the word prune in the title makes me a little hesitant, but look at the results! so moist, so rich, so awesome. thanks again, kate. :)

La Table De Nana said...

Thank you so much for hosting this event..From gathering the chocolates to packaging..posting ..creating the logo..following up..to this..
Kudos Kudos Kudos,-..

I must admit your last notes sound like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally and she's ordering:)

Thank you your cake is sublime!
Happy valentine's day

Junglefrog said...

Happy Valentine day Kate!! Your cake looks truly amazing (and delicious I might add) I will be posting mine tomorrow.. :)

once in a blue moon... said...

hi kate, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY~ oh your cake, so rich and wonderful looking, i could just lick the topping right off the screen and dive my head in right after all the rest! what an interesting recipe, i too always add more chocolate to recipes :-)

is it wrong for me want to double glaze my cheesecake now with cardamom? oh my, i was a purist this round, sometimes there is just no need for improvement!

thank you soooooooo much for sharing your wonderful chocolates with us, talk about a sweet gesture! off to see all the other wonderful treats in store!

Kate said...

Oh, wow...cardamom is a wonderful spice...combined with chocolate, I will have to try it! Your cake looks delicious.

Thank you for inviting me to participate in your Chocolate Valentine event! This was so much fun....and the chocolate, nectar of the Gods!!

Hungry Dog said...

Oh goodness. I am making this. Very soon. Chocolate and cardamom, holy cow. Two of my favorites. Looks absolutely stunning!

Thanks again for organizing this fun little event! And happy valentines day!

Hungry Dog

The Dutch Baker's Daughter said...

Your cake looks and sounds delicious. I'll bet the prunes give it a great texture. I'm enjoying all of the chocolate recipes. Thanks for your chocolate roundup!

~~louise~~ said...

Oh what fun! The post and the recipes!!! Thanks for all these chocolate offerings, Kate! What a GREAT idea:)

Kim said...

What a unique and wonderful combination of flavors in this cake. It looks gorgeous! Happy Valentine's Day!

Sarah said...

What a splendid idea! I've visited a few and you can be certain that I'll stop by the others. This one looks delicious. But then I haven't seen one yet that doesn't. You are so clever to have come up with this fabulous idea. What a special Valentine Day's Treat for all of us.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

If you know what happened to my chocolate......but I'm not telling yet, save for my 4 and 6 year old daughters ♥ you, and dark chocolate it appears...after chomping their way through some yesterday....

Now on to this......

Shall I give you 1 reason 1 ♥ you?

Of course....the cake. It has to be. And the glaze.........wow.

I love the flowers too and I'm so glad you made it back safe and sound!

Lots of ♥

Juliana said...

Kate...chocolate and cardamon? Sounds and looks wonderful!

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

Your cake looks and sounds DIVINE!! Thanks for sharing the other chocolate ideas and posts! :) I hope you had a nice valentine's day! :)

myfrenchkitchen said...

Belgian choclalte...wonderfully decadent!
Ronelle

Neo-Homesteading said...

I LOVE cardamom so much! My first thought was cardamom and chocolate? hmm... but I can see how it works I've done chocolate chai so many times and they are comparable flavors! I must try something like this now!

And your pictures are beautiful as always!

Mowielicious said...

I love the chocolate cardamom combination - how gorgeous does that cake look? - wow! And so pretty with the flowers.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Happy Belated Valentine's day as I catch up on posts after a stressful few days with my blog transition. In fact so stressful that I could use a piece of this cake. NOW. How unusual and creative. Not to mention delicious!

Megan said...

Oh my, that glaze looks so decadently rich and sinful-a slice of this is chocolate lover's dream come true!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

This cake looks so decadent!! Choco & prune sound heavenly together! But I'd never thought of cardamom & choco together as a pair. Thanks for the inspiration!

I know it's a bit late, but here's to wish you a belated V-Day to you! (We've been swarmed with Lunar New Year activities here!)

HMCraig said...

I have never thought of this combination before and am excited to try it! Thank you for the recipe!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Chocolate and cardamom?? You had me at hello!!