Monday, February 19, 2007

Oh My Darling, Oh My Darling...

Chocolate and Clementine Cake with Chocolate Sauce and Cream

Love. The very mention of the word can conjure up sweet reminiscence of coy glances exchanged across a room or of amorous lovers’ silhouetted by the moonlight. On the contrary the very word can summon up vile recollections of bitter heartbreak, screaming matches in the car and all too messy break-ups. Whichever end of the love game you’re at, isn’t it just grand?

With Valentine’s Day just over and done with, I think the topic of love and relationships is quite apt. I am by no means an expert on the subject, although it seems to me that wherever I go, the subject of relationships cannot escape me. Those in relationships talk about theirs (me included) and those who aren’t in one talk about their lack of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was single for a large chunk of my life so I don’t take being in a relationship, and a great one at that, for granted. It seems to be, for as long as I can remember, perhaps even daresay from the beginning of time, the pursuit of love has been pertinent to us all.

Chocolate and Clementine Cake with Chocolate Sauce and Cream

It all starts at school on the playground; Tommy says he likes you, but you don’t want anything to do with boys. Little girls clap their hands together and chant about boys having “cooties” and then a game of kiss and catch erupts across the playground.

Then comes high school; love notes are passed across the classroom, “Do you like me? Yes? No? Maybe? Smiles are exchanged and hopes arise that perhaps he will ask you to the dance. Even then, schoolyard romances are rife with drama that could rival that of any Shakespearean tragedy.

Then you’re out of school, and it seems that nothing really changes, except that the playground just gets a lot bigger. The playground also seems a lot more difficult to navigate and it things tend to get a bit more tangled up, although the feelings of bliss and hearts-a-fluttering and the feelings of despair and heartbreak still remain the same. Oh how thorny is the path to love.

Inside the Cake

Why all this talk of love and relationships on Milk and Cookies you ask? I usually like to steer clear of contentious topics and prefer to talk about inane trivial matters like whether or not you should dunk your biscuits in your coffee, shoe shopping and what we did on the weekend. But it just so happens that this month’s Sugar High Friday's theme is all about seduction.

If you ask me when it comes to love and culinary pursuits, it’s the sweet stuff that always sucks you in. And if there ever were a sure fire way to love, I would have to say that this cake would be one of them. A spoonful of this Chocolate Clementine Cake is enough to seduce any would-be lover or even one who is only slightly inclined to the sweet stuff. It’s rich, but not too rich; it’s sweet, but not sickeningly so and it’s chocolaty yet tinged with subtle hints of citrus. The cake is almost flourless, so all you can taste is the chocolate and the clementines.

Chocolate and Clementine cakes in the making

Clementines, I found out are a variety of mandarins, they are not as tangy as oranges but are sweeter and juicier. They are sometimes mistaken for tangerines, and to be honest I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if they were next to each other. All I know is that when I found them at the supermarket, I exclaimed at the event of finally finding myself some clementines. I always wondered what they tasted like, although never came across them anywhere until now. Nigella Lawson has a great sounding Clementine Cake recipe on her website, although for the purposes of seduction I decided to pair this sweet fruit with one of most proficient seducers of the culinary world- chocolate.

So make this cake for someone you love, be it a secret love, or one that you want to shout from the rooftops. I can assure you, your intentions won’t be lost in translation.

Chocolate Clementine Cake with Chocolate Syrup

serves 8-10 people

Chocolate and Clementine Cake with Chocolate Sauce and Cream

340g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)
225g cup unsalted butter, diced
7 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
¾ cup plain all-purpose flour
2 tsp clementine zest
2 clementines, coarsely chopped*
3 tbsp orange blossom water (can be substituted with juice)
¼ tsp salt
whipped cream, to serve
Chocolate Syrup (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper or alternatively grease 8-10 individual metal moulds.
Melt chocolate and butter in a small heavy based saucepan over low heat until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and ¾ cup of the sugar until thick and pale.
Add the melted chocolate mixture and continue to beat until well incorporated.
Fold in flour then the zest, chopped clementines and orange blossom water.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Add the salt and the sugar in small additions, beating until stiff peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three additions.

Pour batter into pan or moulds and bake for 40-45 minutes (for individual moulds) and 50-55 minutes for springform pan.
The top of the cake/s may crack slightly.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Remove sides of springform pan and place cake onto a serving plate.
If you are baking them in the individual moulds, invert moulds and the cakes should slide out easily.
Serve with chocolate syrup and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

*after zesting clementines, use a knife to remove peel and white membrane from fruit and coarsely chopped peeled clementines.

Chocolate Syrup
makes up to 1¼ cups

100g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring for about 5 minutes until smooth.
You may serve this sauce warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and heated up when required.


Anonymous said...

Oh my God. How good does that cake look. I am salivating just looking at it. Fantastic photos.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, Jen-Jen! This cake could make me unfaithful to all others. The story, the recipe, the photos--they're divine!

Marce said...

Chocolate and clementines (I have to imagine a mandarin-tangerine in this case cause I have never tried clementines) are a great combination.
And this particular cake looks like it could seduce pretty much anyone I know... I´ll keep it in mind for future seductions lol

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow, I'm overcome, overwhelmed. That is really beautiful!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm tagging this recipe right now, Jenjen - citrus is my first love and with chocolate... who can resist? :)

Anonymous said...

How beautiful it is. Wonderful.
It's make me hungry. Thanks for this recipe.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodnees! This is really lovely - very rich on chocolate!

Brilynn said...

Forget trying to seduce someone else, that cake is all I need!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely stunning pictures, Jen - I have no doubt as to this decadent treat's ability to conjure up love!

...and my father used to sing that song to me when I was younger LOL!

Anonymous said...

oh my, oh my! now that is some decadence! gorgeous jen!

Rachael said...

I absolutely love how the whole post about love has you staring at... no, not pictures of partner... no, no valentine's day hearts... no, no babies or families... but, yes: Chocolate CAKE! : ) That's it. I'm infatuated with the cake now

wheresmymind said...

Darlin' that looks SO good!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, you could seduce anyone with that cake. It looks incredibly delicious and the chocolate and clementine sound great together.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD !!! Your cake it's so fabulous, I love this cake

Catherine said...

OMG! That is irresistible! What a great sounding recipe - these will be my next cakes.

Anonymous said...

That looks fantastic! I love the color you chose for the background.
Great post!

Caty said...

Wow! That looks completely delicious! Your photography is wonderful too.

Linda said...

wow is about the only word I can even begin to muddle at this point. my mouth has dropped to my toes. these are two of my favorite things. recently i went to a dessert bar down the block, Chikalicious, and had fresh clementine sorbet. yum.

you are a photographic genius! i'm so glad to find your site!

foodiemama said...

clementines...ahhhhh! that cake looks incredible.

Anonymous said...

That cake would melt even a heart of stone! It looks and sounds luscious!

There have been mandarin oranges all over here because of the Chinese New Year...even in little trees :)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

This will seduce anyone! Incredible photos for an equally incredible dessert. I am so seduced!

Anonymous said...

Ohhh that looks very very delicious, even for a french people who will be for sure lost in translation. I made this cake 2 weeks ago and it was great. Sorry for language but your cake makes me loose my english!

Anonymous said...

Deliciousness at its uttermost. Love it JenJen!

Freya said...

ooh, dreamy! They look other worldly!

Peabody said...

Oh my darling indeed. These look incredible.

Anonymous said...

Droool!!!such a sinful recipe!!yummy!!Can't just wait to try it!!Cheers!!Jessica

Julie said...

These are great. I LOVE clementines and once made a cake with them using ground almonds which was heavenly. I also wanted to say that your madeleines are gorgeous, but it's your polenta cookies that really caught my eye. I just started making crispy grilled polenta, but turning this stuff into a cookie is inspired. I have to try it!

Helene said...

Clementines....Hmmm! Chocolate and clementines now you're talking!
What a gorgeous cake. I also enjoyed the write up a great bit.

Alice Q. Foodie said...

Mmmmmm - these look fantastic - I love the shape!!

Jacqueline said...

hello. it looks so delicious. I was wondering if i don't have maple syrup, what can i substitute for?

Orchidea said...

Oh my God... your cake is just delicious!
I have to try it.

Anonymous said...

Here's how to make delicious chocolate covered strawberries. First of all ensure that the strawberries you are intending to use are dry, then allow them to be room temperature warm prior to making them. After the strawberries have been covered in chocolate, put them in your refrigerator to cool, but do not store them in the fridge. Consume within 1-2 days.

Thyme to Feast said...

omg this cake looks so delicious! Im drooling right now

Squishy said...

Now that is just sinful. Holy crap! I think I am just going to explode with envy!

Anonymous said...

I just made this earlier tonight for my boyfriend's birthday- he said that, without exaggeration it was the most delicious cake he'd ever had. We ate it almost immediately out of the oven, and it was wonderful.