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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Monday, January 31, 2005

Double chocolate syrup cake



This is a variation of the Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake in Nigella Lawson's latest book, Feast. I had a raging NEED and DESIRE for chocolate cake, partly because it's *that* time of the month, but mainly because of the amazing looking, gooey chocolate cake Zarah Maria has on her site at the moment. Doesn't it look incredible? I just wanted to scarf it all down right then. (Zarah - please post the recipe!) So it was late in the evening and I had a raging gooey chocolate cake craving, but no chocolate in the house, only cocoa. Most gooey chocolate cake recipes need lots of chocolate, whereas chocolate cakes made with cocoa are often drier - which was not what I wanted. I needed GOOEY, and I needed it NOW godammnit!

I found something fitting the bill pretty easily in Nigella's book, in her 'Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame'. The Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake is a dense, moist cake made with cocoa, studded with chocolate chips, drenched in chocolate syrup and adorned with chocolate shavings. I decided to reduce it by half (literally). I made a half quantity of the recipe and left out half the chocoaltes; the chocolate chips and chocolate shavings (remember I didn't have any chocolate in the house...that I knew about). Instead of using all caster sugar, I used half caster, half brown sugar to increase the gooeyness. I also made it in a small, round cake pan rather than a big loaf tin, so mine was definitely a cake rather than a loaf.

An interesting thing about this recipe is that Nigella says to line the cake tin with plastic wrap or clingfilm. Huh???? But surely that would melt into a sticky, plastic mess instantly, I thought. They must use a different, super heavy-duty clingfilm in the UK; one resistant to heat?? But, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try it, and you know what? It actually works! I don't understand why, but it doesn't melt! It's surrounded by 170C degrees of heat but it just sits there!

This cake fit the bill prefectly; it was ludicrously easy to make, it was chocolately and moist and the syrup was thick and smoky. If I made it again I think I'd add some flavouring to the syrup to create a variation in taste; I think kahlua or Cointreau would be wonderful. Or some Frangelico or hazelnut essence (I love hazelnut & chocolate).
So, Double Chocolate Syrup Cake (inspired by Nigella):

(Recipe is for a full quantity; I halved this amount to put in a round tin)
For the cake:
200 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa (preferably good Dutch cocoa)
175 g caster sugar
100 g brown sugar
150 grams softened butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
80 ml sour cream (or milk if that's all you have)
125 ml boiling water
(optional: 175 chocolate chips, if you want to make it a triple chocolate cake)
For the syrup:
2 teaspoons cocoa
125 ml water
100 g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 170C, putting a baking sheet as you do so and line a 900g loaf tin with plastic clingfilm.
Put the flour, bicarb, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream in a food processor and blitz until a smooth brown batter. Scrape down and process again while adding the boiling water down the funnel. Remove blades and stir through chocolate chips, if using. (you can also make this in a bowl with a hand mixer, as I did)
Scrape and pour batter into the lined loaf tin and cook for about an hour. When ready, the load will be risen and split down the middle and a cake tester will come out fairly clean. But remember that it is a damp cake, and it should still be a bit sticky inside.
While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Put the cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how reduced and caramelly you want the syrup. You want a reduced liquid. I reduced mine to a sticky, smoky, intense thickness.
Take the cake out of the oven and leave it in its tin. Pierce it all over with a skewer or something. Pour the syrup, as evenly as possible, over the top of the cake.
Let the cake become completely cold and slip it out of the tin, removing the clingfilm. Or just cut slices out of the pan while it's still warm and scarf it down, as I did. You can dust the top with a mixture of equal parts cocoa powder and icing sugar, if you like. You should find it fits your chocolate cake craving desire very well!


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