(Burnt chocolate and caramel custard with mini chocolate Krantz cake)
Every once in awhile, an exceptional recipe comes along and fairly quickly without much thought, I find myself returning to it more than twice in a single week. This very splendid chocolate Krantz cake from Tara’s blog, which comes by way of Ottolenghi, is one such recipe. It produces two memorable loaves of sweet yeasted cake that are utterly blissful when eaten warm and that also manage to stay moist and just as pleasing several days later.
The first time I made it, I foolishly halved the recipe. Big mistake. The entire loaf disappeared within two days, leaving me craving for more. The second time round, I made a full batch, flavouring the dough with candied orange and cardamom and also reducing the sugar content by a few tablespoons. Half the dough was converted into a tray of mini loaves, for tearing and dipping into little cups of burnt chocolate custard.
Anyway, you know the drill. If you only have time and the inclination to bake one thing this week, please let it be chocolate Krantz cake. Get the recipe from Tara’s blog. If you want to gild the lily, the recipe for the chocolate custards are below.
Burnt chocolate caramel custards :
(makes 4; adapted from a recipe from The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup cream, warmed
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
70g bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 egg yolks
generous pinch of sea salt
plus extra caster sugar for caramelising the finished product
Melt the 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium sized pot, then increase the heat and cook until golden brown, stirring with a heat-proof spatula. When the sugar has caramelised, turn down the heat and carefully whisk in the cream (the caramel will splutter), followed by the milk and salt. Continue cooking until the caramel has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the yolks with the melted chocolate, then whisk in the warm caramel cream. Strain the custard into a jug, and divide the mixture between 4 ramekins (I used small cups, as shown in the first picture). Bake covered loosely with foil in a bain marie in a preheated 155′C oven for about 40 minutes until the custards are just set. Chill overnight before caramelising with a generous sprinkle of caster sugar and a blow torch.
Tags: candied orange, caramel, cardamom, chocolate, custard, dessert, Ottolenghi
(Double chocolate brown sugar lamingtons)
The best things I ate this week? Juicy, dribbly, sweet and sour West Indian cucumber pickles, straight from the jar. Plump steamed dumplings stuffed with barbecued eel and spring onions. Misshapen blue corn tortillas piled high with ceviche, pickled jalepenos, avocado, chilli and lime. And this lamington. Turns out the best things in life aren’t necessarily always the prettiest.
My favourite things act as antidotes to the melancholic nature of a season. August feels less friendly when you’ve misplaced a favourite woolen blanket or feel too keenly the cold creep of kitchen tiles on bare feet. Sometimes, it’s also just about wanting a little bit of cake, nothing too heavy, preferably chocolate flavoured, maybe with a sprinkle of coconut and some brown sugar as well, thanks…
Double chocolate brown sugar lamingtons :
For the sponge :
140g brown sugar
pinch of salt
125g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
chocolate sauce for dipping (recipe below)
250g dessicated coconut
Whisk the eggs in an electric mixer until very light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and salt and continue whisking for a few minutes. Sift the remaining dry ingredients over the egg mixture and fold in gently but thoroughly. Transfer this mixture to a greaseproof paper-lined 8″ x 12″ baking tray. Bake in a preheated 175′C oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Once the cake is cooled, peel away the baking paper. With a serrated knife, trim the edges of the cake (or leave it if you don’t mind slightly rough edges on your end product) and split the sponge in half lengthways. Spread filling of your choice on one half of the sponge. Here I’ve used a salted caramel sauce but you can also use cherry jam, chocolate custard or whipped vanilla cream. You can also skip this step if you want unfilled lamingtons. Sandwich the sponge back together and cut into as many squares as you like (12-16 squares, depending on how big you want each portion to be). Dip each square in chocolate sauce and dredge in dessicated coconut.
For the chocolate sauce :
(You can use a more traditional recipe for chocolate frosting, but I prefer this one because it has more depth of flavour and is less sugary. It doesn’t set the way the frosting recipes do, but the sauce soaks in a little and sticks well to each sponge square.)
200g brown sugar
120g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium pan, place the brown sugar and cocoa. Whisk in the water and vanilla. Bring to boil, stirring. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Strain and leave to cool before using.
Tags: brown sugar, cake, caramel, chocolate, cocoa, coconut, lamingtons, teacake, vanilla
(Chocolate ricotta fudge cake with beer caramel)
After spending two weeks in Hobart, I return feeling somewhat re-energised. It’s all about a change of pace, experiencing great generosity, taking the M and E out of Team, and just eating well. Really well. Followed up with a run in 2′C weather with the wind whipping at your ears and legs. Turns out, it doesn’t take a lot to make things a little bit better.
So now I’m ready to get back into a commercial kitchen. Trouble is, I don’t know which kitchen.
I started baking with ricotta when I got back, having been inspired by the great ricotta and prune pastries at Pigeon Hole. This chocolate ricotta cake is one of several happy experiments. Remind me to also tell you soon about ricotta buttercream and ice-cream!
The chocolate ricotta cake is based on Tartine’s devils food cake recipe. The fudge frosting is like this but omit some of the caster sugar and increase the cocoa powder plus a pinch of salt. The beer caramel is adapted from here. Assembled cake then goes into mouth. No other instructions necessary.
Tags: cake, caramel, chocolate, fudge frosting, ricotta