Saturday, 14 February 2009

Chocolate Cloud

Okay. There always seem to be two groups of Valentine's people: the haters and the lovers. Those that swear against the "holiday" and those that take the chance to go ooey gooey and sip pink champagne cocktails all evening. I've never noticed the day that much, definitely not enough to fall into either of these two camps. But let me tell you, when your boyfriend is 6,000 miles away, V-day sucks. One more reminder of the huge power of land and ocean and space - a reminder that you can't help growing differently when you aren't together.

So, I had no plans. And then an aunt, who I've spoke about before, came to the rescue. In her tiny studio tucked in the corner of a drafty and damp barn, we turned up the heaters, drank vodka with pomegranate sodas, and giggled sitting cross-legged in paint stained clothing, talking about art and love and medjool dates. Paints, pliers, and sketches from my late grandfather all made an appearance, and by the end of the day it didn't matter that it was storming outside or that everyone else was far far away.

And then when I got home, I made cake. Chocolate Cloud Cake, as per Nigella's orders. I found this recipe late one night during an evening of babysitting, when the kids were already long asleep and Gordon Ramsey's language was getting exhaustingly agressive on the television, and as a remedy I picked up Nigella Bites and read it cover to cover, having just enough time to copy this recipe into my little red notebook before the parents stumbled home in the wee hours.

Gorgeously gooey, the end result is like a baked chocolate mousse: light, ethereal, yes, even cloud-like. It's incredibly simple, although does require multiple bowls and several cleanings of the beaters. And covered in a soft pillow of whipped cream, the cake took all our worries away for a few moments.

Chocolate Cloud Cake
adapted from Nigella Bites

for the cake:
250 grams (8 ounces) dark chocolate
125 grams (5/8 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175 grams sugar (3/4 cup)
zest of one orange (I used a meyer lemon instead, it was lovely)

for the cream topping:
250 ml whipping cream (Nigella used twice this much, but I found this amount to be plenty, unless you really are a whipped cream fiend)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cocoa powder for sprinkling

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom of a springform pan with parchment.

2) Melt chocolate in a double boiler, let butter melt into chocolate.

3) Beat two whole eggs and four yolks with 75 grams sugar, gently add chocolate and orange/lemon zest.

4) In a separate bowl beat four egg whites till foamy, the gradually add the last 100 grams of sugar till whites hold their shape but aren't too stiff. Fold into chocolate.

5) Pour into tin, bake 35-40 minutes, cool completely.

6) Remove from tin. Whip cream till firm but not sitff, and fill the sunken center of the cake with the cream. Dust lightly with cocoa powder.

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