After running thru' the latest SHF#13: The Dark Side Wrap-up on 75 chocolatey desserts at Lovescool, it was not humanly impossible for me to walk away from my laptop without thinking, obsessing and yearning for 'chocolate'. Breaking out a bar of Lindt from the refrigerator was just not going to 'cut it' this time.
And with that, out came Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme from the cookbook cabinet, and as I was too too distracted and impatient to deliberate over the choice of chocolate dessert to make, I just turned to the very first recipe in this wonderful book.
Apricot and Ginger Chocolate Loaf Cake: With this as the intro-sentence "This is a dark-as-midnight chocolate cake that gets its strong chocolate flavor from cocoa and small chunks of premium-quality bittersweet chocolate.... completely surprising addition of small cubes of dried apricots and intensely spicy stem ginger...", how could I resist!
Adding Valrhona Gastronomie Cocoa powder and chopped chunks of Valrhona Grand Cru Noir Manjari (64% cocoa) dark chocolate (the book recommended Valrhona Guanaja, which at 70% cocoa is slightly more bittersweet) to the cake's ingredients, I was assured that the pleasurable taste of chocolate would be doubled. I loved the chunks of dried apricots and stem ginger (not crystallized ginger) which gave a sweet and spicy 'lift' to an otherwise heavenly but dense chocolate cake. Unfortunately, hubby is not into 'ginger', and I will have to remember to remove this ingredient the next time around *sigh*.
What was interesting tho' was the addition of almond paste to the cake mixture. I went looking for the same at Phoon Huat (our local baking specialist shop) but couldn't find the same, and eventually settled instead for marzipan. Although both are basically made from the same ingredients comprising ground blanched almonds, sugar and eggwhites, almond paste has a higher ratio of almonds to sugar (at least 50:50 ratio) than marzipan (which is generally 30:70 almond to sugar ratio) thus allowing for more intense almond taste. I should have probably made my own almond paste, but my food processor had 'conked out' - sheesh!
I understand that almond paste is supposed to help the cake remain moist for a longer period of time. 3 days have lapsed since I baked this cake and it is still moist and dense wrapped in saran wrap and foil. Truly a great and simple cake to make, but I must get my hands on proper almond paste the next time around.