Friday, November 30, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Cakes

It's at this time of year as the rains roll in and the wind picks up that I go to my cupboard to assess my supply of dried fruit.  In order to get through the winter months, I have tucked away dried apricots, figs, dates, cranberries and cherries.  And while they aren't nearly as pleasing as fresh fruit, they still work their own magic in various pastries and desserts.

For these little cakes, I soaked some dried cherries in port to soften them up.  Then I plopped them into a very moist and simple chocolate cake that is a basic canvas for lots of things.  In this case, I also added some ground nuts and dribbled some chocolate glaze on top to make them more festive.  But they'd be just as good if you served them with a dollop of brandied whipped cream or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.  A very quick and easy dessert to lend warmth to a chilly night.  Cheers!

Bench notes:
- Soak the dried cherries in the port until they are softened, about 1/2 hour or so.
- If you use almonds, the sliced variety are easier to get to a finer grind.
- I baked these in 6 oz (3.75" diameter) tapered ramekins for 18 minutes.  You can also use Pyrex custard cups or a standard cupcake pan.
- For the chocolate glaze, chop the chocolate into fairly small bits to help it melt evenly and efficiently.
- Extra cakes can be stored in an airtight container and will stay moist for a couple of days.

Chocolate Cherry Cakes
Makes 8 cakes

1/2 C dried cherries
1/3 C port
1 C flour
1/4 C toasted walnuts or almonds
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/4 C + 2 T natural cocoa powder
1/4 C + 2 T warm water
1/4 C + 2 T canola oil
1/2 C + 2 T granulated sugar
1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg @ room temperature
1/4 C milk @ room temperature
1 t vanilla

Chocolate Glaze
3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 C heavy cream
1 T corn syrup
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease eight 6 oz ramekins or 8 wells in a standard cupcake pan.

Roughly chop the dried cherries and plump them in the port until they are soft.

Place the flour, nuts, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the nuts are finely ground.

Stir the cocoa and warm water together until thoroughly blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, sugars and egg and blend well.  Add the cocoa mixture.

Combine the milk and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the sugar-egg-cocoa mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stir in the cherries and port.  Pour into prepared ramekins, filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake until a tester comes out clean with just a couple of moist crumbs attached, about 18 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen and turn out the cakes.

For the chocolate glaze, finely chop the chocolate.  Heat the cream and corn syrup on low heat until it reaches a good simmer.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour into a large measuring cup.  Add the chopped chocolate and let it sit for about a minute.  Stir slowly until fully combined.  Let it cool for a few minutes to thicken.

Plate the cakes and pour some chocolate glaze over the top of each.


Zoë said...

I'm the same, cupboards full of dried fruit at this time of year. Well, most of it's now gone in mincemeat, xmas pud and xmas cake but the cherries tend to get left behind - they just don't seem as luscious as figs or apricots, say. But these cakes might just change my mind about them - thanks for the inspiration!

Kate said...

Hi :PS!
Was reviewing the Hazelnut Nutella post from last week and you and Victoria are right... the US and Italian versions are NOT the same. More sugar and "what is that and why is it in here" ingredients in the US version. Chelsea Market has a vendor that sells them side by side. Great looking cookie you made!
The chocolate cherry cakes are impressive as well. Your presentation is always restaurant/professional and these are no different. I really like the individual serving portions you often use. It makes a show stopper presentation for our dinner parties... AND if there happens to be a hold over serving, well let's just say.... tea in the afternoon is sublime!
Thank you, again~

pastry studio said...

Hello, Zoe and Kate! Thanks so much for your comments. Lots of pastry and dessert ideas floating around for the holidays. Enjoy all your preparations!

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