Tuesday, 3 February 2015

'Against all the odds' chocolate cake

One of the reasons I would dearly love to be Felicity Cloake is that I'd get the opportunity - people would even PAY me - to spend hours dithering around in the kitchen perfecting what I want to share with anyone who cares to read.

I do occasionally toy with the idea of making the same thing a few times over the course of a few weeks so that the family get variations on a theme and I hit perfection, but you and I both know that I'd have a mutiny on my hands pretty quickly, and I'd lose patience, so what actually happens is that I have to get on with whatever great idea I've had, and hope that it turns out allright, otherwise I won't have anything to blog about that week. Not for me (or, I guess, plenty of other food bloggers) the luxury of tweaking the ingredients, re-making with just a touch more ground almond, substituting syrup for honey before deciding that honey was better after all...

So it is partly as the result of having nothing else to blog about, and partly because I think it's worth sharing things that don't quite work out as you expect them to or hope they will, that I am calling this'Against All the Odds' chocolate cake 

Against all the odds, this chocolate cake turned out not only rather attractive (albeit in a rather funereal way), but actually tastes ok.

Against the odds stacked heavily against me in terms of time and ingredients - or, I should say, lack of, I managed to produce a chocolate cake to take along to my 'Valentine's themed' Clandestine Cake Club on Sunday afternoon, just returned from a weekend celebrating the Husband's father's 70th birthday and retirement, with the week to prepare for and some utterly exhausted children to cook dinner for.

Feeling experimental, and with some roasted beetroot in the fridge that needed using up, I turned to Harry Eastwood's Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache (which incidentally offers a master class in vivid, recipe-development prose - it's one of the things I love about the book, but it makes me deeply envious of the opportunities she has to tinker in the kitchen), and optimistically threw myself into adapting the eponymous Chocolate Heartache Cake. 

I sound upbeat don't I? I was. For a moment. 

Then I discovered I didn't have enough chocolate or honey.  My beetroot was cold (from being in the fridge, natch) so instead of the chocolate melting into it (as per the recipe which calls for a warm aubergine puree to receive the shards of chocolate and melt them), I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and poured it onto the beetroot in a blender, causing the whole lot to seize...

I used a blender that was too small, so I had to scrape the solidified beetrooty, chocolatey mess into my food processor and attempt to loosen and puree the whole lot with the prudent addition of a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil.... (Just as an aside, coconut oil is my new favourite ingredient. Try it. It's fabulous.)

My honey was limited to 3 mostly finished jars in varying stages of crystallisation. Nothing a spell in some hot water couldn't fix - and some pomegranate molasses to make up the difference. By this stage, I was really hoping against hope...

I managed to lose the sugar violets I'd bought for decoration (more than a nod here to Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake) then retrieved them from the bottom of my handbag, and the icing I made was too runny requiring the addition of icing sugar, thus killing off my attempt to produce a refined sugar free offering. But against all those odds, I had a cake. More of a dinner party pudding cake, and definitely complemented with some kind of additional dairy product (we had sour cream in the fridge, I'm thinking a sweetened mascarpone would be good), my cake was velvety, pleasingly crimson (thank you beetroot), and densely chocolatey. Against all the odds.

And then, the odds ran out. The weather and disrupted after school arrangements conspired so I couldn't make cake club after all. Some you win...

Against All the Odds Chocolate Cake

400g peeled roasted beetroot
250g dark chocolate, in smallish pieces
2 tbsp coconut oil, warmed and melted (if necessary for the cake) plus a little for brushing the tin
50g cocoa powder
60g ground almonds
3 large eggs
170g clear honey
30g pomegranate molasses 
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cherry brandy

For the icing
80 g runny honey (I had to buy some more)
40g warmed coconut oil (warmed so that it's a clear liquid rather than white solid)
25g cocoa
2 tbsp icing sugar

Line a 23 cm loose bottomed tin and brush lightly with warmed coconut oil and pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Chop up the beetroot into pieces. If it's cold, warm it up - may be zap it in a microwave. If I had time, I'd fiddle with this bit and work out the best way to do it. Over to you Felicity... Put the warm beetroot into a food processor, add the chocolate and let the chocolate melt, then whizz it all up till its smooth.

Alternatively, chop the beetroot quite small and pop it into a food processor. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, pour into the food processor and whizz up as quickly as possible. If the whole lot seizes, add the coconut oil a little at a time.

Put the rest of the cake ingredients into a stand mixer and whisk till frothy. Add the chocolatey beetroot mixture, whisk together till it's all combined, then scrape into the prepared tin, pop in the oven for 30 minutes and pray.

When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before unmoulding and leaving to cool completely.

To make the icing, seive the cocoa into a bowl, combine with the honey and coconut oil and, if necessary add the icing sugar to taste and for spreading consistency. Smooth over the top of the cake and adorn with sugar paste violets.

Smother with cream and devour. Gingerly at first, then with more confidence and decide whether to make it again at a later date...


  1. Ah, I love a 'back from the brink' cake - always so pleasing!

  2. Love the title of this cake. I love your take on Harry Eastwood's infamous heartache cake :-) x

  3. I love the sound of such a dark and mysterious cake. I agree about coconut oil but, more worryingly, I think you might be in danger of finishing your bottle of pomegranate molasses before too long.

    1. I'm getting through it, Phil, but another house move is looming (in the same area but we're looking to buy) so there is a certain imperative to get my stash down again!

  4. 3 Studies REVEAL Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you actually kill fat by consuming coconut fats (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medical journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world around!


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