Those of you of a chocolate persuasion may have noticed that there is a new "When Only Chocolate Cake Will Do" category over on the right somewhere. In my world there are very few situations that can't be conquered with a slice of chocolate cake (unholy stomach bugs excepted) and now that I've brushed away the last of those cobwebs and flung back the curtains I can see quite a few things that have been neglected and left to get rather dusty. So lets see how far this cake can go.
It's original incarnation was as Val's birthday cake, chocolate and orange as requested, and it performed it's duty with the utmost chocolatey professionalism. Adult rich, studded with toasted almonds and candied orange zest, even I would preach self-restraint when it comes to serving this one. Over a pound of chocolate in an 8 inch cake is not to be taken lightly so use the very best you can find even if it means beans on toast for the rest of the week. It happens to be gluten free but that just means there will be even more people who can share the chocolate love.
Next up was my first blog birthday but that ship sailed about two weeks ago, I marked the occasion myself by finishing off the slice immortalised above.
A virtual slice is offered to all of you who succumbed to lemon flavoured bribery and kindly nominated Eat Drink Live in the Irish Blog Awards, being held on March 1st in Dublin's Alexander Hotel. The short lists are out and I made it onto the Best Food and Drink Blog and Best Blog, so thank you muchly for my night out, though I will be playing Cinderella on the night and hauling my pumpkin rear back to Limerick at midnight. March 2nd is Mothers Day and the mums of Limerick must not be denied their well earned buns.
Lastly but not leastly, I suppose I should acknowledge the day that's in it. I've made my anti-Cupid stance known before but seeing as I gave in to the dollar signs flashing before my eyes and went out the door with 5 dozen love-heart topped cupcakes this morning, it would be mercenary of me not to wish you all a happy chocolate-coated Valentines Day.
Adapted from an old issue of Vogue Entertaining and Travel.
CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE CAKE
- 3 oranges, rind thinly peeled into wide strips (a vegetable peeler works well)
- 260g caster sugar, plus a few tablespoons extra to coat
- 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 50g flaked almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
- 190g unsalted butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- 225g ground almonds
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 60ml double cream
- Place the orange rind in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain then repeat the process twice. Return rind to the pan, add 110g of the caster sugar (leaving 150g for later) and 125ml of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer for 15 minutes or until syrup is thick and rind translucent. Drain and reserve syrup. Cool rind. Toss in extra few tablespoons of sugar and chop coarsely.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and line the base of an 8 inch/20cm cake deep cake tin with greaseproof paper. Place the dark chocolate in a bowl and pour over 150ml boiling water. Whisk until combined and set aside to cool slightly.
- Beat the remaining 150g of the unsalted butter (the extra 40g is for the ganache), the 1/2 tsp salt and the remaining 150g caster sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each one. The mixture will look quite curded but don't worry it all comes together when you add the remaining ingredients. Next beat in the chocolate mixture. Sift over the ground almonds and baking powder, add flaked almonds and orange rind and stir in with a spatula to combine. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out almost clean. If the cake is colouring too much cover it with tin foil halfway through the cooking time. Stand the cake in it's tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the ganache: Stir the chocolate, cream and remaining 40g of butter ina bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted. Leave to cool for a while until it thickens slightly the spread over the cooled cake swirling with a flat-blade spatula as you go. Add some of the reserved syrup to some whipping cream and beat until soft peaks form. Serve with the cake.