Monday, November 25, 2013
Get Ready: Sticky & Boozy Chocolate Prune Cake
One month. One month until Christmas. Someone tell me how the heck that happened, and what exactly happened to the year 2013? Maybe you've already sorted out your decorations and strung your lights or played a little Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack to get yourself in the mood. Seeing as I have a wee kitten in the house who basically enjoys climbing on and destroying everything, I'm almost certain there will be no tree this year, unless I want to come home to one that's toppled over and my vintage ornaments in tiny pieces. And that would make me sad, and I've already pledged that I will not cry this holiday season. It never fails. There is always some sort of meltdown-inducing incident and this year I'm not going to let it happen. No puddle of melodrama for me, I swear on Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. Sleep, exercise, chocolate and a little bit of booze will be my saving graces I'm sure, with hefty doses of good friends and Love Actually thrown in at the right moments (how is that movie 10 years old?!!). Christmas isn't easy for everyone. Whether you're working too much, or missing someone who should be by your side, or just consumed will all of the pressure and stress that somehow tags along on this holiday that should not be about any of that. One month. One month to get yourself ready, and my hope for you is no tears either. Feel free to steal my route of self-medication. Remember, there's not much that Colin Firth and caramel popcorn can't fix.
Now let's talk about cake - one of my favourite topics in the whole world - and I have a good one for you today. When one thinks of cake, one doesn't often associate it with prunes, am I right? These über-healthy dried plums are more known for their benefits to your digestion than they are for adding drama to baked goods, but I'm here to rectify that. Also, you can eat cake and feel like it's practically health food - bonus points all over the place. But rest assured that the cake will not taste like it's health food, catch my drift? Prunes plump up in warm brandy and get plunked deep in a batter that is reminiscent of gingerbread. Secret: there are prunes puréed in the batter, too. But don't worry, the tasty chunks of dark chocolate mask their cover very well. And then of course there is the boozy, sticky glaze poured over the cake whilst it's still warm - rendering it utterly moist and hopelessly addictive. Even on the fourth day it still held these qualities. I blame it on the prunes. While not the most photogenic of cakes, what it lacks in appearance it makes up for in taste. Served while warm, with perhaps a little softly whipped cream on the side, this cake could indeed bring sweet tidings to all.
A couple of notes: first off, I want to say that my foot is back to normal. Seven weeks post incident and I can walk and walk quickly (I'm not a runner, but I suppose I could if I had to), even in boots with heels! This is very happy news, and to celebrate I think it's only appropriate that I go shoe shopping. Agreed?
Secondly, I've been nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award, which completely blows me away and makes my heart warm and fuzzy. Huge thanks to any of you who nominated me. Believe me when I say that I'm still surprised that there are other readers here besides my sister and best friend. So to all of you who come back regularly, or who may have stumbled upon my blog for the first time. Thank you. xoxo Renée
Sticky & Boozy Chocolate Prune Cake
1 1/4 cups pitted prunes (organic if you can find)
1/3 cup brandy or cognac
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 large egg
2 tbsp cane sugar (or granulated white)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp brandy or cognac
Preheat oven to 325*F. Butter an 8x8 inch square baking dish and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges.
Heat 1/2 cup prunes with 1/3 cup brandy in small saucepan over medium heat until warm, about 4 minutes. Watch it doesn't catch on fire! Remove from heat.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the remaining 3/4 cup prunes with buttermilk and oil until light and shiny paste, about 3 - 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Scrape into large bowl and whisk in egg, sugars, molasses. Fold in the flour mixture until no streaks remain. Stir in chopped chocolate. Scrape into baking dish and smooth top. Cut each soaked prune in half and press pieces just so they are below surface of cake. Reserve remaining prune/booze liquid.
Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes.
While cake bakes, combine water with sugar in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves, just a few minutes. Remove from heat, let cool 10 minutes then stir in 2 tbsp of brandy and remaining prune soaking liquid. When cake is done, remove from oven, poke several holes in cake and pour boozy syrup evenly over cake. Let cool completely on rack, at least one hour, then serve. Makes 6 - 8 servings. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Chatelaine November 2013.