Tuesday, 1 February 2011

ABC Wednesday: C for Cake

Specifically: Chocolate Cardamon Chili Cake. Nuff Cs?

For my brother in law Ron's 50th birthday last November we were to go out for a curry. Ron loves a curry. My sister, not the one he's married to, who I was to pick up from the airport on the way up, asked me to make him a birthday cake. I said yes, of course, not much gets in the way of a real, valid cake making excuse. Why not, I thought, try to make one that will, in some way, compliment the spicy meal? As Ron likes it hot, and I had been experimenting with adding chili to chocolate things for a while (I've made some fabulous chocolate chili cookies), I decided to top the cake with dark chocolate chili ganache. Then I remembered Nigel Slater's 'White Chocolate Cardamon Mousse' (in his book Real Food, I think) and wondered if I could borrow from this for the filling. The only way to find these things out is to try, so that's what I did.

The cake itself was the 'Buttermilk Birthday Cake' you can find in Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. Instead of flavouring it with vanilla I crushed the seeds of a handful of cardamon pods (15?) and creamed them in with the sugar and butter.

For the experimentsl filling I crushed the seeds of another ten cardamon pods, put them in a little jug, covered them with milk (about two tablespoons) and heated the lot in the microwave for about 20 seconds. This was then left to infuse for an hour or so. 200 grams of white chocolate went into the microwave next, but as it melts very easily I just started it off there (1 minute on half power) then stirred languorously till it was fully liquefied (never once dipping my finger in to taste). A carton (280ml) of double (heavy) cream was whisked until it formed soft peaks. The infused milk was strained and stirred into the warm chocolate, followed by the cream which I folded in until the three became one. Then it went into the fridge to chill.

For the topping I melted 300 grams of dark chocolate with three tablespoons of golden syrup, then added three crushed dried chilies. Once the chocolate was coolish I added a carton of double cream and whisked like crazy so all became thick and became very glossy. It too went into the fridge to chill a little, not so much, though, that it became truffle solid.

Once the cakes (two sandwiches) were cool I applied the filling to one and topped it with the second. Scraped the chili chocolate ganache over the top and let it drip down the sides, cartoon style. The result was spicy, fragrant, and moist, if a little on the rich side. But the added chili meant it increased the metabolism by fifteen percent for the next two hours, thus burning off some of the calories. It all counts.

Cake for a Spice Lover (sorry about the photo quality, I'd had a glass of champagne before remembering to snap).

Off to Edinburgh tomorrow to see the play A View from the Bridge (Arthur Miller). The tickets were part of Stevie's Christmas present from me; when we first met (1978?) he was always banging on about Death of a Salesman which he'd just done for English A-level, so when I saw this was on...

Let's hope time and experience haven't changed his literary sensibilities too much.

PS I have tried to be clever and make it so if you click on the ABC Wednesday picture it takes you to the site, however this may not work. If this is so click here.


Mollie said...

Oh. my. god. Eryl. Would you please become a TV personality so we can watch this yummygoodness emerge before our very eyes? If that can't happen, surely a YouTube channel?

Sara Katt said...

Nothing for felines, I'll have you know! But, I bet that my silly two-legged mother would love to try your cake. Great C-post!
Sara Cat
Sara Cat's ABCWedrd-8-C as in Cheshire Cat

Eryl said...

Mollie ~ I'm only good in writing.

Sara Katt ~ there was a bowl of cream left over, I know felines like that!

angryparsnip said...


I must have this cake it sounds like something I would adore !

You are very clever what a great idea and taking it to a great finish.

cheers, parsnip

Lauren RZ said...

Chocolate? Cardamom? Chili?! Three of my favorite things in the whole world!!! This sounds fantastic... Next cake occasion this WILL be made.


The Pollinatrix said...

Before I even read Mollie's comment (and your reply), I was thinking that I was a publisher, I would totally sign you for a book deal to do a cookbook.

So...how was the cake? I mean, obviously it was good or you wouldn't be recommending it here, but I'm craving one of your delicious descriptions of the experience of eating it, I suppose.

I love to bake and am relatively good at it, but I must have bad cake karma or something, because about 95% of the cakes I've attempted to make from scratch have been failures.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Re: the cake photo. Have you no mercy?

"A View from the Bridge" is pretty rough stuff. Let me know how it was. Last season's impossible Broadway ticket was "View" with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson.

Roger Owen Green said...

let us all eat CAKE!

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Jedediah said...

*wipes drool off keyboard* That looks amazing. I don't have that much experience with "exotic" spices and I had no idea that cardamom could be used like that. I love the taste, so I might just try it myself.

Pat said...

Looking at your creation it occurs to me that you have the gift of making things rise so beautifully.
Enjoy Mr Miller.

Cezar and Léia said...

Cake is such a delicious idea!
And I love chocolate!
Léia - Bonjour Luxembourg

Margaret said...

I didn't know the effect chilli has on the metabolism - must try it. The cake looks gooily delicious.

Carole said...

I just gained five pounds. Surely I shouldn't shouldn't be drooling over an internet post, but there it is.

Looks great.

Sharon Longworth said...

Eryl, why is that some people can create magic with their cooking, when all I can produce is a shake of the head and a sympathetic grimace?
I may have to get you doing a cake delivery next time you're down Kent way!

pilgrimchick said...

That sounds like a great cake! Very creative recipe. I developed a taste for chocolate with a kick when I accidentally stored a bag of chocolate covered almonds with a sack of paprika and turmeric. Wow--fortunate mistake.

alphawoman said...

Looks and sounds marvelous.

Eryl said...

Parsnip ~ I think you would like it too. It's amazing how well white chocolate goes with cardamon, but I'd never have known if it weren't for Mr Slater.

UB ~ I may actually try and write a review, never done that before. But just read James Baldwin's Paris Review interview and he felt writing reviews was a good apprenticeship.

ROG ~ what a good idea!

Jedediah ~ if you like cardamon you'll like this! We used to get Indian sweets in the east end of London when I was a child so I had a vague recollection that cardamon could be used in sweet as well as savoury dishes. I think I may even prefer it sweet.

Pat ~ this is one of those cake recipes that you could bake in a toilet and it would rise!

Léia ~ cake is always a good idea!

Margaret ~ ginger has the same effect, so if you like ginger tea...

Carole ~ drool away!

Sharon ~ I think I just had a lot of time to practise as a young mother: one child, husband always away working, no other creative outlet (didn't know writing was something I could do then). And we were always moving so I never had anyone – friend or family – to distract me. Cooking and reading were the only things I did, day in day out, for years.

Pilgrim ~ ooh, I might have to try turmeric with chocolate, that sound like a very fortunate mistake indeed!

Alphawoman ~ thank you.

nick said...

The cake looks deliriously wonderful - and very rich! Chocolate before bed always gives me the most amazing dreams, and I'm sure a slice of that cake would be no exception!

Kass said...

Your description of that cake is like instructions for following Alice down the rabbit hole. What an adventure!

turquoise cro said...

MMMMMMmmmMMMMMm! That cake looks soOOOooO yummy!! I've got some cayenne pepper tablets I'm going to start taking tomorrow to REV up my metab!!

Stocker said...

I agree with Mollie! This idea was sheer genius and about to be added to my recipe book.

Scarlet Blue said...

I love the cake pic and I love a cake with character. Actually I just love cake.

helenmac said...

you are amazing: a creative cook and a comic (it would rise in a toilet bowl :)!
Glad I found your blog and this crazy cake recipe which I will definitely try.
Helen Mac, ABC Wednesday

The World According To Me said...

Please could you make me this cake? It looks the best cake ever!

Kathryn Magendie said...

OHHHH! This sounds and looks so danged devine - Lawd! *doing the homer simpson drool!*

Mary Witzl said...

Whoa...that cake looks great! I can't get enough of cardamom and chocolate. So glad about the chillies upping the metabolism, but I'll bet they'd have to work VERY hard with that cake.

rochambeau said...

The cake sounds sublime and I bet champagne was a good pairing! What did bil Ron say of his fine confection?
Enjoy the play Eryl!

Eryl said...

Lauren ~ I don't know how I missed you and Polli! If you do make this let me know how you like it.

Polli ~ I'll need to make it again to describe the eating as I was so taken up with conversation, I don't see my siblings very often, that I can't remember what it was like.

I know lots of people who can't get on with making cakes from scratch. I learnt at my mother's knee so it's never been nerve wracking for me, unlike making, say, hollandaise sauce!

Look out for the mail!

Back soon, to reply to the rest of you, my timer has just gone off so supper is ready, hopefully.

Eryl said...

Nick ~ another good reason to eat chocolate, as if one were needed, I'm going to try that tonight and see if it works for me.

Kass ~ it was a bit of an adventure, with kind, experienced guides: Nigel and Nigella who really should do a show together!

Turquoise Cro ~ that's a jolly good idea!

Stocker ~ do let me know if you ever make it.

Scarlet ~ I wouldn't trust someone who didn't like cake.

Helen Mac ~ thank you! If you do make it do report back.

Worldy ~ next time I'm down your way...

Kat ~ :)

Mary ~ chocolate and cardamom is a wonderful combination, and I'd never have known it if it weren't for my sister-in-law making that Nigel Slater mousse one time I stayed with her.

Constance ~ he said it was delicious, and I hope he meant it and wasn't just being kind. X