Friday, March 19, 2010
Chocolate Rum Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Rum Glaze
One of the things I love about chocolate is that it’s almost impossible to know everything about chocolate. It will dare you, surprise you and kick you back. It will sometimes haunt you at the oddest hour. And it will definitely retool your notion of what a flavor profile is all about. With so many regions producing amazing cacao beans and blends, there is no end to a new kind of spark we can create in our kitchens.
While I must say that chocolate isn’t really my strongest passion in the realm of pastry and desserts, I did have the pleasure of working with some of the world’s finest chocolate products for over a year. I consider myself very lucky to have an indelible memory of tasting a Pralus Vanuatu bar (now extinct) and thinking I was in some sort of crazy-happy alternate universe. And although I never really settled into a friendly affinity for working incessantly with chocolate at the exclusion of all other things, I do appreciate its vast ability to stir the deepest longings in so many people. I seem to veer mostly toward fruit, but I have a grand respect for chocolate in all its delicious confoundings. So it was in this spirit that I forged ahead with this incredibly surprising recipe for Chocolate Rum Raisin Cake. Oh my.
This cake turned out to be one of those experiments that blew my mind when I had a chance to taste the results. I started out wondering how all these ingredients would co-mingle, not entirely sure this would work. I know that extra virgin olive oil is a tremendous pairing with chocolate, but I wasn’t sure how all the other ingredients would meld in combination. Much to my surprise and great pleasure, this cake turned out to be much more than the sum of its parts. All I can say is, wow! This is a fabulous cake.
I know there are many who absolutely fear the raisin. Maybe they were handed a stale box of Raisinettes as a teenager or never got to try Rum Raisin Ice Cream on a dare, but when these raisins are nestled with chocolate and rum in a lusciously moist and transcendently delicious cake, I think they just might become converts.
All these ingredients are in delectable balance. The overwhelming flavor is a deep rich chocolate due to the use of cocoa powder. The cinnamon and rum do not in any way overwhelm and the extra virgin olive oil brings just the right note of earthy flavor and acidity – an absolutely blissful surprise. The raisins also add to the earthy richness. The Brown Sugar Rum Glaze takes it to another peak level of delicious mind-numbing goodness. Do not leave out the glaze!
Fresh from the oven, as all kinds of powerful aromas waft and swirl and linger, I'm reminded again of the spellbinding effect of such terrific natural ingredients. Treat yourself to this cake and discover something new about chocolate!
- I use California Olive Ranch Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, an amazing product that also comes highly recommended from the test kitchen of Cook’s Illustrated. It’s got a stunningly clean and pure fruity taste without any trace of bitterness and it has an aroma that fills your kitchen with incredible lusciousness.
- Make sure your raisins are soft and plump.
- My cake baked in 32 minutes. Start checking at about the 30-minute mark.
- OK, if you’re in terror of raisins, try the cake without them!
Chocolate Rum Raisin Cake
1/2 C raisins
1/3 C rum
1 C cake flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 C + 2 T cocoa powder
1/4 C + 2 T warm water
1/4 C Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg @ room temperature
1/4 C buttermilk @ room temperature
1 t vanilla
Brown Sugar Rum Glaze
1 oz (2 T) butter
1/3 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 T heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 t rum
pinch salt, to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8” x 3" cake pan with oil and parchment.
Plump the raisins in the rum until very soft.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
Stir cocoa and water together until thoroughly blended into a paste.
Combine buttermilk and vanilla.
Whisk together the olive oil and the sugars.
Add egg and blend well.
Whisk in the cocoa mixture.
Drain the raisins and combine the rum with the buttermilk and vanilla.
Gently add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in raisins. Be careful not to overmix. Pour into prepared pan and smooth batter evenly.
Bake for 30 - 34 minutes or until a toothpick tests with a few moist crumbs adhering. Cool 10 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen and turn out the cake. Cool completely.
When the cake is cooled, prepare the glaze.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and combine with the brown sugar. Lower heat a bit and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the cream and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and rum. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Cool for just a couple of minutes to lukewarm.
To glaze the cake, transfer the cooled cake to a serving plate. Pour all of the glaze quickly over the center of the cake. Tilt the plate carefully to distribute the glaze to the edges of the cake or use a small metal spatula to spread the glaze, if necessary.