Eddie Izzard, my favorite British transvestite comedian, does a hilarious bit about the Church of England’s rather wussy approach to torture, as related to tea and cake. “Cake or Death?” he asks. Cake, please.
We had a dinner party last night, which I’ll get to eventually, and these darling little cakes were our (outrageously rich) dessert. This morning, I lazily dumped the icing rack I’d used into the dishwasher without scraping the excess chocolate off, and now the steam from the dishwasher is infusing the entire house with chocolate.
And ha! Who said a popover pan only has one use? And again with the cinnamon and orange . . .
Cinnamon-Orange Dark Chocolate Popover Cakes (PDF)
Recipe 281 of 365
Dense, deeply chocolaty, and spiffed up with a few shakes of ancho chili powder, these are cakes for a dinner party. Serve one to each person, or one per couple – they’re rich enough to split.
Contrary to their name, these little cakes don’t actually rise all that much. They’re just made in a popover pan, which gives them a unique, sort of fancy-looking shape that I love.
TIME: 45 minutes active time
MAKES: 6 or 12 servings
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, plus more for pan
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (about 65% to 70% cacao)
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 packed cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cinnamon-Orange Ganache (recipe follows)
Cocoa powder or cinnamon, for dusting the cakes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and center one rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter all six cups of a popover pan (even if it’s nonstick), and set aside.
Place the remaining butter, chocolate, and orange zest in a small saucepan, and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly. When the chocolate pieces are almost entirely melted, remove from the heat and let the chocolate mixture sit for a few minutes. Stir until smooth, and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the white and brown sugars, chili powder, and cinnamon and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, until the mixture is well combined. Sift the cocoa powder and flour over the batter and whisk it in, slowly at first. When all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, divide the batter between the six popover cups.
Bake the cakes for 20 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack. Place the popover pan on a cooling rack.
When the pan is cool enough to touch, invert the cakes onto the cooling rack (place the rack on top of the popover pan, invert both, and tap the cakes gently out of their pans), and let the cakes cool to room temperature.
(At this point, the cakes can be wrapped and left overnight, if necessary. Make the ganache just before frosting cakes.)
Before frosting, place the cooling rack over a baking sheet (to catch the dripping chocolate.) Using a flat spatula or a small knife, spread the ganache over the tops and sides of the cakes. Allow the ganache to dry, then sprinkle with cinnamon or cocoa powder and serve.
Ganache is just a mixture of chocolate and cream that, when poured over the
cake, gives it a smooth finish. Don’t be scared by the name! You can make it
while the cake cools, but don’t let it cool too much before using it.
(LIKE I DID HERE – I LET IT COOL TOO MUCH, AND IT GOT ALL CHUNKY = BAD IDEA, BUT NOTHING THAT COCOA POWDER CAN’T COVER!)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon orange oil
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (about 65% to 70% cacao), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just barely beginning to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat, wait a minute or two, then add the oil, chocolate, and cinnamon, and stir until the mixture is smooth and uniform. If the chocolate is still too thick to pour, add another tablespoon of cream, and mix again.