It’s February, and even though it feels like mild spring weather in the Bay Area, in many parts of the country it is considered the coldest month of year. When it is dark and cold outside my cooking preferences tend towards baking. It is an excuse for me to turn on the oven and spend time experimenting with recipes in a warm and cozy kitchen.
As citrus season is upon us, Chef Becky and I have been taking advantage of all parts of the fruit including the peel. Citrus peels are very sought after for baking as they secrete essential oils that provide aromatics without releasing acidity. In order to really highlight how to use citrus in baking, we have been going crazy over cakes!
This flourless cake is for the seasoned chocolate lover. The flavor is rich with dark chocolate and undertones of brandy, while the texture is light and moist. The sprinkling of candied orange peel will lift you out of the deep chocolate flavor and awaken your senses. I encourage you to close your eyes and experience the complex flavors in every bite.
9 oz of bittersweet chocolate
6 tbsp. of brandy, cognac, or coffee
4 eggs at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup of whipping cream
Candied Orange peel
3-4 navel oranges or blood oranges
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
syrup (optional -keeps sugar from crystallizing, but may not be necessary because of the short cooking time)
1. Melt Chocolate and Brandy together.
2. Warm eggs and sugar over double boiler, then beat until you have a three second ribbon.
3. Stir in 1/4 of the egg mixture into the melted chocolate. Fold in the rest of the egg mixture.
4. Whip cream to soft peaks. Fold in chocolate/egg mixture.
5. Pour batter into buttered cake pan and set in bain marie (hot water bath). Add water to bain marie after cake is in it.This technique is used to create a gentle and uniform heat around the cake. Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes.
6. Let cake cool.
7. Using a peeler. Peel the orange from the blossom end to the navel in 3/4 inch strips. Try not to go too deeply as you don't want to remove much if any of the pitch (the pith has bitter notes)
8. Boil the peel in water for 2-3 minutes.
9. Start your sugar syrup off the heat in a sauce pan, add three cups of the sugar and water and stir together. Add the corn syrup.
10. Bring to a rolling boil and add the peels. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until peels look translucent.
11. Strain from the syrup, and separate so they are not clumped together.
12. When they have cooled enough to handle, toss in the remaining 1 cup of sugar so they are coated with a layer of sugar. Let sit to air dry. Once they are dry they will remain brittle and easy to chop. If eaten to soon they may seem tough and chewy.
13. Chop candied orange peel and sprinkle over cake. Enjoy with a side of whipped cream.