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!

Bench notes:
- 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
Serves 8

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.


Victoria said...

This looks so beautiful - and sooooo good. Would it be wonderful with rum raisin ice cream, or would that be over the top?

What about the rum? There are so many different types of rum out there. I usually drink Gosling's Black Seal. Does that seem too dark to you because it sounds perfect to me? One day I heard someone in the store say they only ever drink Mount Gay Rum. Are you familiar with that rum?

Since you don't specify "dark" brown sugar in the cake part of the recipe, does that mean it's light brown sugar?

Sorry for all the questions.

I love the way you used the word nestle in this post. Simply perfect. I'm waiting for your book to come out.

pastry studio said...

Hello Victoria! I love all your questions. By all means, ask away!

The rum raisin ice cream (which I love) as a side might be interesting but I'm worried you wouldn't taste the magic of the olive oil. Dairy has a way of masking other subtle flavors. Let me know if you try it!

I'm not an expert on rum by any means. I worked mostly with Myers in the past. I didn't have any on hand when I wanted to test this cake, so I ran to the store down the block and they only had a little bottle of Bacardi Gold so I used that. I'm curious to try your suggestions.

I used dark brown sugar. I'll fix the recipe.


Seattle Pastry Girl said...

First of all I love your blog ! And I must make this cake,it looks and sounds crazy delicious..another to add to my TO BE BAKED list .

Audrey said...

I just wanted to say I've been quietly enjoying your wonderful blog for a while. Your photos and recipes are so enticing. Thanks!

Cheryl R said...

I LOVE chocolate! I would not have thought to use Oliver Oil. Your
Chocolate Rum Raisin Cake sound delicious! I will print out your recipe and try it!!

I made a chocolate cake with raspberry jam in the middle and topped with a thin layer of marzipan and then ganache layer topped with green tinted marzipan for "leaves" and raspberry candies for the "flowers".

Michele Napoli said...

I love reading your blog, and the photos and recipes look fantastic. My experience making olive oil cakes has been hit or miss, but this is one I will definitely add to my "to be tried" list.

Umi said...

what is the best substitue for rum?

pastry studio said...

Thanks to all for your lovely support of my blog. I appreciate your comments.

Umi, you can substitute brandy or if you're looking for something non-alcoholic, you can try coffee, although I haven't tested that substitution.

Modern Crush said...

I have almost everything to make this... I am going for it! Maybe minus the raisins:) They haunt me...

Jen said...

it truly is a gorgeous dessert!

home based businesses said...

Chocolate cakes are my favorite! I'm really going to try this one. Thank you for sharing.

start a web business said...

Chocolate has always been my weakness. This just looks majestic.

Anonymous said...

firstly, just want to congratulate you on a fantastic and drool inducing blog! I finally got the guts to make one of your cake recipes - obviously this one and it was fantastic! I do have a couple of technical questions though - mostly due to my cake not reaching the heights of the one in your images! firstly, i prepared the baking powder & the flour first- would this have caused the low cake? AND does the olive oil need to be really strong in flavour to survive the cooking process? I used a local fruity oil - and while the cake was moist I can't say i noticed any oil notes in the flavour - or perhaps i over did it with the rum...


pastry studio said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for your compliments on my blog! I'm glad to hear you got the nerve to try a recipe because I do try to make the instructions clear and the methods fairly simple.

I'm wonder if you used an 8" cake pan? Even using a cake pan that is 9" can make a big difference in the end product. Also, the recipe calls for baking SODA rather than baking POWDER, so I'm not sure if you meant to say baking soda. Baking soda is about 4 times as strong as baking powder and is used with recipes that contain an acidic ingredient, like cocoa, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, brown sugar, etc.

Here are some common reasons for cakes not rising sufficiently:

1. Oven temp too low, which can happen if your oven isn't calibrated properly. Each oven has its own issues and hot spots, so it's good to buy a little temperature gauge to see if it's holding the right temperature.
2. Over-beating or under-beating the batter. Butter, oil, sugar and eggs (1 at a time) need to be aerated and emulsified, so be sure you are mixing well during each of those stages. Once you add any other liquids and flour, then you need to be careful not to overmix. Once your batter is mixed, put it in the oven immediately to capture the full effect of baking soda or baking powder.
3. Baking soda or baking powder that has expired. Check your container for an expiration date or test a spoon in a glass of water to see if it activates.
4. Adding extra ingredients not in the recipe. Depending on the nature of the composition and weight of extra ingredients, the chemistry may change or the baking time may change.

Because cocoa has such a strong flavor, if you want to taste the impact of the oil, it is important to use one with a big flavor that will stand up to the chocolate.

I hope this helps. I love this cake and I hope you were able to enjoy it, too!

Unknown said...

We made this for our frat party. Phi Chi Theta loved it!

eliabel said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I baked it (slightly changed) for my husband's birthday. It was delicious.

perfume said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe.
I love this cake and I hope you were able to enjoy it, too!

Anonymous said...

Hi!! I'm trying out this gorgeous lookn recipe as a Christmas treat for a close friend. I was just wondering if you could specify cake flour? I'm not exactly sure if the stores from where I'm from have "cake" flour, so to speak :) thanks for the recipe :)

Anonymous said...

Hey again, I asked the previous cake flour question. So sorry to take up space with another question, but I forgot to ask you is the degrees for the oven set at farenheit or degrees Celsius? Thanks a bunch :)

pastry studio said...

Hello Anonymous and thanks for your questions.

Cake flour has a protein content of 6% - 8% while all purpose flour has a protein content of 10% - 12%. So cake flour has less gluten and produces a much more tender product with a more delicate crumb. Cake flour comes in a box rather than a bag and should be available at most groceries.

If you cannot find cake flour, you can try substituting a well known formula, although I have never tried it myself so can't speak to it directly. It is to measure 3/4 cup of all purpose flour and whisk in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch (sometimes called cornflour). However, since all purpose flours vary so much in protein content, this isn't a sure-fire way to get the same texture in the cake. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

The 350 degrees oven setting in this recipe is Fahrenheit. The standard conversion for Celsius is 180 degrees. The 8" x 3" pan I use here is approximately converted to 20 cm x 7 cm.

Hope this helps!

swati said...

hi I happened to come across this recipe while searching for a chocolate rum raisin cake hence this looked perfect. I made it except i used the olive oil i had. I have 2 questions - my raisins seem to sink to the bottom and also my baking time is close to 80 min (tho i did double the recipe)

pastry studio said...

Hi, Swati. Thanks for your questions.

Did you plump the raisins in the rum before adding to the batter?

When you doubled the recipe, what type and size of pan did you use? This has a great deal to do with baking time but 80 minutes sounds excessive.

eliabel said...

I baked it again and you can see the picture here:

Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe and thanks for your beautiful blog.

pastry studio said...

Hello, eliabel! That looks delicious. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

sarahm said...

Thank you for this amazing recipe!!! It is definitely the best cake I have made in a long time--the flavor combination, with the rum sauce, left me utterly speechless. I will definitely be making it for Christmas for my family. Well done!

pastry studio said...

sarahm, I'm very grateful for your super kind feedback on this delicious cake! So glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Just discovered your blog and made this cake today. It is out of this world! Thank you so much for this inspired combination of flavors and textures.
(Tip: I soaked desiccated raisins - all I had available - in rum for 24 hours and they were scrumptious!)

pastry studio said...

Hello TheBeautifulBeach and thank you for reminding of this cake, which is especially delicious during this season. Love that you enjoyed it as much I as do. It's a bit irresistible.

Happy holiday season!

anu said...

Hi! Loved your recipe for Chocolate Rum Raisin cake. Easy to understand and follow for not so good baker like me :). I wanted to know if i can use 9inch * 2inch baking pan and will changing the pan size bring any change in backing process.

anu said...

I am sorry for taking space for another question :(, In cake recipe i needed little bit more description for following items.
- Vanilla - is it vanilla extract or or there is any other form of it.
- Butter - salted or unsalted or sweetned
- any specific type of salt or daily use iodized salt can be used.
- can i increase the quantity of sugar, incase people prefer little extra sweet

Thank you so much for your help and guidance. Happy Holidays!

pastry studio said...

Hello anu and thanks for your questions.

You can use a 9" cake pan but it will bake faster and turn out thinner. Start checking it at around 28 minutes.
Vanilla is vanilla extract.
Butter is unsalted.
Salt is every day table salt.
You can increase the sugar a tablespoon or two but any more and it will change the texture of the cake, make it perhaps too tender. And don't forget the glaze will add some sweetness as well.

Hope you have a chance to enjoy the cake. Happy holiday to you and your family!