Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Asian Five Spice Cake

Serves 12 - 16

My search for this recipe was prompted by a very similar cake we had at The Burning Tree on Mt Desert during the summer of 2007. The cake was frosted with a chocolate ganache, with I think a bit of whipped cream (not ginger but that would be a great idea). I first made this cake (version below) for Moogie's birthday that October.

NOTE the success of this cake, if you like hot spices is to be sure the five-spice powder used contains Szechwan pepper. The five spice powder I originally purchased at Whole Foods (Frontier) used white not Szechwan pepper and did not have enough bite; I compensated for this by adding chili powder to taste.

The recipe below comes from www.Epicurious.com which notes Chef Christian Thornton serves the cake with caramel ginger ice cream and a berry compote, but for the home cook he suggests an infinitely easier ginger whipped cream: "Beat 2 cups chilled heavy cream to soft peaks and fold in 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger. Its airy softness tempers the intensity of the rich chocolate."

Recently, I have come to prefer my healthier spicier version, Chocolate Chipotle - Olive Oil Cake , which is also much easier to make.

7 oz. fine-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
6 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder [plus 1/2 to 1 1/2 chili or chipotle chili powder]
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
6 large eggs

Accompaniment: ginger cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10- by 2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

Put chocolate in a large shallow bowl. Bring water, 1/2 cup sugar, and spice to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then pour through a fine sieve set over chocolates. [I melted chocolate mixture in the microwave oven until it was smooth when stirred and did not put the mixture through a sieve.] Stir until smooth, then stir in butter until smooth.

Beat eggs with remaining 3/4 cup sugar until increased in volume and pale and beaters leave a distinct trail (4 to 5 minutes in a standing mixer or 15 to 20 with a hand-held). Stir 1/4 of eggs into chocolate to lighten and fold in remainder gently but thoroughly (fold 1 to 2 minutes).

Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Put pan in a water bath and bake in middle of oven 40 to 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering. Remove from water bath and cool 2 hours in pan on a rack.

Unmold cake by running a thin knife around edge, then heating pan 5 to 10 seconds on burner set at moderately low. Invert cake plate over pan and flip cake onto plate. (If cake sticks, tap bottom of pan with a knife handle. If that doesn't work, heat pan again.) Peel off paper.

Serve cake in thin slices.

You can make cake 2 days ahead and chill, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Reviewed 5/11/17

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