I’m thinking of chocolate. In particular of a rich chocolate cake, oozing with depth of flavour and richness. Well, it is ten in the morning after all, I am hosting a children’s book party at home and cake is necessary.
I’m sure my obsession is not helped by the fact that this months’ theme for the Forever Nigella blogging challenge over at Maison Cupcake is ‘Seduced by Chocolate.’ Therefore, Nigella chocolate recipes, in general, have slipped into my subconscious to a degree that I can’t possibly fight.
The cake I most have on my mind is a flourless chocolate cake from my well-used 2001 copy of Nigella Bites. It not only looks scrummy, it is also really easy to make.
Lisa and Natalie from The Book Mums arrive and talk to us about the delightful world of phonics, the new way that kids learn to read. Since it is not the way I learnt to read and is therefore a total minefield for anyone who is not a newly qualified teacher, I comforted myself (and my guests) with Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake. Lisa was expecting my Polish Apple Cake, as promised, but I’m afraid apples were not the order of the day. Chocolate was.
I blame my shopping trip. Before I had even reached the Bramley apples, I was hit by a large stand of Fairtrade chocolate called Montezuma’s which happened to be on special offer.
A quick read of the packet reveals that Montezuma’s is a British made artisan chocolate which won a Great Taste Gold Award in 2010. It is produced in West Sussex by a small team founded by Helen and Simon Pattinson, ex-Lawyers turned chocolate entrepreneurs. I’m a huge fan of artisan produce and was intrigued by their selection of flavours.
I spied a bar of Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Orange & Geranium flavour and thinking of the Valencian orange extract I had in my cupboard my ‘cloud’ was about to become distinctly orange-flavoured.
Back at home, a quick taste-test (an entire bar, good job I bought three) confirmed that my recipe tweak was almost certain to work. As well as switching plain dark chocolate to orange chocolate, I also added orange extract to the cake mix and some ground almonds
The result? Lots of empty plates, always a good sign. Nobody mentioned the floral influence of the Geranium in the cake but it was definitely there along with an intense hit of orange. Adding Valencian orange extract to the whipped cream cake topping also carried the flavors through nicely.
Plenty of books were bought, we were all a little wiser about the joys of phonics (if not a little more calorie laden) and my local toddler group received a generous donation of chunky books for chunky fingers.
Thank you to everyone who came! Lisa, next time I do promise Polish Apple Cake!
Here’s my adapted recipe. The original can be found here Chocolate Cloud Cake
Chocolate Orange Cloud Cake
Adapted from Nigella Bites
250 g dark chocolate (I used Montezuma’s Orange & Geranium 73% cocoa)
125 g unsalted butter – at room temperature
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated – at room temperature
175 g caster sugar
50 g ground almonds
1 teaspoon Valencian orange extract
OR grated zest of one orange
For the cloud topping
500ml double cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon Valencian orange extract
½ teaspoon cocoa powder for sprinkling (I use Green & Blacks)
You will also need a 23cm springform cake tin, lined with baking paper
Preheat your oven to 180 C/gas mark 4
Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently boiling water (make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water) and put the chocolate inside the bowl to melt. Stir around gently and take the bowl off the heat when melted.
Chop the butter into pieces and add it to the warm chocolate, stir in so that it melts together.
Separate four of the eggs into yolks and whites. Put the two whole eggs and four eggs yolks into a bowl with 75 g of the caster sugar and stir.
Add the chocolate and butter mixture, ground almonds and Valencian orange extract or the grated zest to the chocolate and egg and stir well.
In a separate very clean bowl, whisk the four egg whites until they are quite foamy then gradually add the remaining 100 g of caster sugar and whisk again.
Add two spoonfuls of the beaten egg whites into the melted chocolate mixture and lightly stir in with a metal spoon then add the rest of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently stir with your metal spoon until it is all mostly mixed together.
Pour the mixture into your springform cake tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
The cake should be risen, there may be cracks but the centre should no longer be wobbly.
Leave the cake in its tin to cool. (Once cooled I left mine in an airtight container over night but it is fine to use it the same day)
When you are ready to eat the cake, place it on a cake stand or plate and take it out of its tin. The cake will have a crater-like dip in the middle and will be a bit rough around the edges.
To make the topping, whip the cream until it starts to get thicker, add the icing sugar and orange extract and continue to whip until it is quite firm. Be careful not to over beat.
Spoon all the topping on top of the cake, spreading it out gently towards the edges.
Dust with cocoa power and decorate with sprinkles or flowers if you like.