It is often easy to understand why many so people put chocolate so high up on the pleasure spectrum. Imagine a planless evening. You, alone in a room, apart from a hefty chunk of really good, homemade chocolate cake. You are going to eat the cake before you call your boyfriend for an impromptu rendez-vous/reach for a copy of Lady Chatterley. Fact. Unless you’re lucky enough to have ties with a circa-1994 Antonio Banderas. Game changer.
I came up with this recipe before I drifted off to sleep one night, during that beautiful period of uninterrupted, deep thinking time. The combination of bittersweet chocolate, orange oil and velvety marzipan is ridiculously good. However, the brownie sponge is very sweet: cue soured cream chocolate ganache.
Unlike the Nordic birthday cake a few posts ago, this looks and tastes about as sinful as you can get. Frosted chocolate brownie = classic ‘choke on this post-break-up whilst watching ‘The Notebook’’ fare. But throw in the handsome plot-twist of orange and almond, and you’re in altogether more heady, cultured territory. It’s almost smokey. Consume this in front of Vertigo, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, even The Graduate. Or just Marlon Brando’s ‘Luck be a Lady’ scene from Guys and Dolls, stand-alone. Then have an oily bath surrounded by glowing, flickering incense sticks.
p.s. £1 in the jar. Running total = £2.
chocolate orange marzipan brownies
40 g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
185 g caster sugar
90 ml sunflower oil
100 g self-raising flour
zest of 1 orange
50 g marzipan, softened at room temperature, grated
2 tbsp marmalade
Put the cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a jug with 100 ml boiling water, and mix well. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4. Butter and line a 9 inch square tin.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil. Sift in the flour, stir briefly, and then add the cocoa mixture. Stir until combined.
Fold in the grated marzipan, orange zest and marmalade.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until well risen, firm but slightly springy to touch, and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
soured cream chocolate frosting
150 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
50 g unsalted butter, melted
150 ml soured cream
2 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee, cooled
1 tbsp honey or golden syrup
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat gently until completely melted.
Remove bowl from the heat and whisk in the melted butter. Leave to cool slightly before whisking in the soured cream. Stir in the coffee and finally the honey or syrup, mixing until thick and glossy. Leave to stand until thickened and spreadable.
Spoon the frosting over the cooled, uncut cake and spread with a palette knife.
Decorate with curls of orange peel.