Our Chocolate Week here on West of Persia continues, ya’ll!
It’s pretty tough to improve upon quality chocolate’s velvety flavor. But lately I have been finding that a bit of cardamom in my Persian Hot Chocolate, or added into chocolate-based cookies, or even mixed into plain old melted chocolate tastes quite amazing.
The flavors of chocolate and cardamom play off of each other nicely in a way I can’t quite describe. They’re sort of like that couple you think of as mismatched who, when you spend time with them, all of a sudden seem perfect together. Harmonious in ways you never would’ve dreamed of. Hmmmm, perhaps we have a case of opposites attract on our hands here?
So much like the couple who meets in the most random of ways, I often find my recipes in the most random of places. Today’s recipe is adapted from the book Cook Yourself Thin Faster, by Lauren Deen. During the course of my travels around New York City, at some point I ran into a promotional postcard for this book that had this recipe featured on the back. It looked delicious, so I took a look at the ingredients and instructions and figured I’d could adapt it to my specifications. Then I stashed it at home and promptly forgot about it for about two seconds. 😉
I’m happy to report that on the first try, I was able to get rid of all of the dairy, the granulated sugar, and even added in my own twist with cardamom, orange blossom water, almond extract, and a dusting of pepper. The result? An amazingly decadent cake. Ooey and gooey. Not something you’d ever associate with being on the healthier side. Stealth health, I like to call it. So here’s my adaptation:
Chocolate Volcano Cakes with a Middle Eastern Flair
Recipe adapted from Cook Yourself Thin Faster
Cocoa powder for dusting muffin tins
2 1/2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (soy free)
1/3 cup Agave nectar
2 Large eggs plus one egg white
1/3 Pastry flour (all purpose flour works too; pastry is what I had on hand)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate in chips or cut into chunks
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground peppercorn mix (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of Turkish coffee powder (optional)
For garnish: Confectioner’s sugar and/or decorative fruits and nuts of choice
1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Warm a non-reactive saucepan, using very low heat. Add the chocolate chunks and stir gently to encourage melting. This doesn’t take long, so don’t walk away. When chocolate is mostly smooth (a few chunks can remain), take it off of the heat, and put it into a bowl. Set aside.
3. Line 6 standard sized muffin tins with wrappers. Spray inside of muffin tins with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out excess cocoa powder and place tins on a baking sheet.
4. Using an electric mixer, cream the Earth Balance and the agave nectar until fluffy and smooth. This takes about a minute.
5. Add the eggs and egg white one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition.
6. Lower the mixer speed to low, and slowly add in the flour, one-third of the mixture at a time. Beat until just combined. Add in the spices and extracts and beat again lightly to combine.
7. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
8. Bake just until the tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when you shake the pan lightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and remove from the baking sheet. Place on a cooking rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, prepare any garnishes you might use.
10. To plate, carefully peel off the muffin wrappers and gently lower onto a plate. Mostly likely the cakes will crack or even bust open a bit. That’s good–the oozey stuff is the best part. Garnish as desired and enjoy!