By: Chef Alan Zox
Adapted from Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe cookbook
Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate friendship. Some of us do this routinely by eating a meal together. Thanksgiving is another time when we do this nationwide. When the food you are experiencing with others includes chocolate that is sweet and joyful, we are memorializing a holiday that features kindness, generosity and caring for others. We need not wait for Valentine’s Day to express these feelings but it reminds us of this special occasion. And Chocolate symbolizes this time when we express our joy of being together.
Some of us claim our yen for chocolate is infrequent. Too many calories we are told. But I don’t know many of these folks. Chocolate and vanilla or caramel are usually enjoyed by all. In fact, caramel seems to have experienced a renaissance of late.
Valentine’s Day reminds us of all these favorites. It is a sweet time to remember those who are special in our lives. For me chocolate pies and cakes or soufflés bring out the best in me. Sometimes I just can’t get enough. They make me feel happy all day long.
It’s said that women love sweetness more than savory delights. And that women are said to enjoy the sweeter tastes in life more than men. I have no idea if this is true or fantasy. And frankly I don’t care. It’s all a wonderful and happy time for everyone. Today I am introducing a unique chocolate cake that is made even more special with a Mexican Chocolate Glaze. I have adapted this treat from a Mexican recipe I adore. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cake:
Yields: one 8- or 9-inch cake
4 tbsp bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped in food processor - 2 ounces
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) unblanched almonds, —toasted and ground or chopped very finely in a food processor
4 eggs separated
1/2 cup sugar – separated into two ¼ cups
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or other Orange) Liquor
Steps to Follow for Cake
1- Preheat oven to 325°F
2- Grease, flour, and line with wax or parchment paper an 8 or 9 inch cake pan.
3 -Combine cinnamon, orange zest, grated chocolate and ground almonds in a mixing bowl andset aside.
4-Using an electric mixter, beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until pale yellow and sugar crystals have dissolved. Stir in orange juice and set aside.
5-In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks while gradually add remaining1/4 cup sugar. Stir egg yolks
and orange juice into the chocolate almond mixture, then
fold in half the beaten egg whites. Blend well and gently
fold in remaining egg whites.
6- Spread mixture evenly in prepared cake pan and bake for
35-to 45 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan.
Let cool for 10 minutes, and invert onto cake rack. When cool use a pastry brush to coat with Grand Marnier and set cake rack on top of a flat pan before covering with Chocolate glaze.
Recipe for Chocolate Glaze
10 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate- about 5 ounces, chopped coarsely
1 Tbsp unsweetened chopped chocolate (about ½ ounce)
3/4 cup softened butter – 1 ½ sticks
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel (Optional)
Place both chocolates, 1/2 cup (one stick) of the soft butter, corn syrup, and water in a double boiler or in a small metal or pyrex bowl set over a pan filled with 1” of gently simmering (not rapidly boiling) water.
Stir gently until just melted. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 1/4 cup soft butter. The glaze is ready to pour when it reaches the consistency
of maple syrup — between 86F- 96F and easily runs off of a spatula.
Place cake on rack set over a pan or wax paper and slowly pour glaze over cake, tilting to coat evenly. (If entire cake isn’t coated, remove cake from pan, collect extra chocolate, reheat gently if needed and coat again.) Decorate with candied orange peel if desired.