Orange & prune chocolate cakes
Poor prunes – they really don’t have a good rep, do they? Any time I actually eat one though the packet doesn’t last long. This prune and chocolate pudding has therefore been a long time coming – when I first got myself a copy of Julie Le Clerc’s Made by Hand my foodie friend Sarah pointed it out, and she’s one of my friends who I definitely trust when it comes to food shenanigans. EDIT: So it turns out there are actually quite a few prune lovers out there! If you’re in Christchurch check out Becs (of Lovely Wee Days) who makes wonderful Posh Porridge at the Christchurch Farmers’ Market. I had mine with Nigella’s prunes with pistachio crumble, honey and yogurt. Must be early though!
The first time I made these, minus any orange, I was pleasantly surprised (for a chocolate cake with no oil or butter) but something was lacking. It wasn’t the fat though – these are really nice and fudgey and moist. So, given my obsession with oranges…well, you get the idea. Oranges are plentiful and cheap at the moment, and they also happen to heighten this to what seems like the impossible: a refreshing chocolate dessert. These are very jaffa-like, so if you’ve humoured me by reading this far and hate prunes, just ignore them and focus on the all-natural but delicious jaffa flavour of these cute little delights. The prunes merely play the role of keeping the texture nice, thus reducing the need for oil or butter. They also add a really nice and subtle fruitiness that prevents these from being cloying whilst still letting the chocolate run the show. EDIT: Will, who dislikes most orange desserts and hates prunes, specifically commented how he liked these. Yay! He looked a little less happy when I told him it had prunes in though.
I’ve snapped these with Julie’s chocolate maple ganache (which was the version sans orange), but mine refused to form a ganache consistency – it looks really coarse but I promise it’s almost as smooth as any ganache made with cream. I didn’t actually use anything on the orange version, and I don’t think it’s all that necessary to be honest, although I wouldn’t say no to vanilla ice cream on the side.
One other thing that was different between the first attempt and second with orange: I simmered the prunes for less time, making for a thinner batter and a flatter top (which is how it’s meant to be). This didn’t look as pretty but I much preferred the texture (obviously a bit moister), so I’ve reflected that in the recipe below. However if you want your tops to be nice and round, reduce the prune syrup so the prunes don’t swim around in anything, they’re just coated slightly by syrupy water. Yep. Really talking this one up huh? I should clearly be promoted to head food writer at some prestigious foodie mag :P
Orange and prune chocolate cakes
adapted from Julie Le Clerc’s Made by Hand
makes 4 small cakes (in 1/2c capacity ramekins), but this obviously depends on your ramekin size. Recipe is easily doubled (I halved it).
- 50g pitted prunes, finely chopped (really fine if you’re not a huge prune fan, roughly chopped if you want discernible prune chunks)
- 125ml/g water/orange juice mix – use freshly squeezed juice of one orange, and top up with water. I got about 80ml from one large orange.
- zest of one orange (EDIT: 1/2 an orange is probably sufficient actually)
- 50g dark eating chocolate (I used Whittaker’s 60%)*, chopped
- 2Tbs water
- 1 large egg
- 1/4c tightly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- 1/8c cocoa
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4c flour**
Preheat oven to 180C, with a rack centred.
Heat prunes and orange juice/water mix on medium heat to soften the prunes and reduce the liquid until it’s thickened but the prunes still have some room to swim around.
Meanwhile, beat the egg, sugar and vanilla on high speed until frothy – first it’ll go darkish, and then paler. Stop once it’s a bit paler.
Now the prunes should be ready. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate and cold water until incorporated. Fold the egg mixture and the chocolate prune mixture together until half combined (doesn’t matter if it’s in the pan or bowl). Sift over dry ingredients (you really must sift here or you’ll get clumps of dry bits) and fold through until just incorporated. The mixture should still look a little bubbly and will have some lumps in because of the prunes, but as long as there are no dry pockets you’re good to go.
Bake about 15 minutes, checking at the 10 minute mark if your oven runs hot. Stick a skewer in and if it comes out mostly clean, take out and cool on a rack.
Serve on its own, topped with maple ganache (50g dark chocolate melted with 2Tbs maple syrup), regular ganache (equal parts choc & cream melted together), thick creamy yogurt, double cream, creme anglaise, or beside a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.
This is my contribution to Sweet NZ, this month hosted by Allison of Pease Pudding, another food blog based in Auckland. Allison is awesome, but you’ll see that pretty clearly when you visit her blog :D
Leftover congee & stock @ Good Food in a Crap Kitchen (I assure you it’s much more awesome than it sounds!)