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:
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
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.
- 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.