Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dark Chocolate Sponge with Blue Cheese

Dhanggit from Dhanggit's Kitchen is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I'm taking a closer look at cocoa beans.

cocoa beans© by Haalo

These dark, almond shaped and sized seeds are raw cocoa beans and are what you'd find inside the large pods hanging from cacao trees. Processing is simple - the beans are first left to ferment and then dried in the sun. These particular beans are the Forastero variety which have much higher antioxidant levels than other cocoa varieties.

The beans contain two parts - cocoa butter

Felchlin cocoa butter© by Haalo

which is this yellowish, flaky substance. It's a vegetable fat and has a mild chocolate-like scent.

The other part is cocoa mass and it is this part that I'll be using for this post in the form of these Felchlin 100% cocoa mass buttons.

Felchlin 100% cocoa mass© by Haalo

These buttons contain nothing but cocoa mass - there's no sugar or trans fats or lecithin or flavourings or whatever other things you might find in you standard chocolate. In this form you can appreciate the true flavour of the cocoa.

The dish I've made specifically requires the use of 100% cocoa to help make the ultimate dark chocolate sponge but it is a sponge with a difference. There's no flour whatsoever and texture wise, it virtually dissolves in your mouth, a bit like a ganache but best of all, it's served as a partner to blue cheese.

The recipe comes from Shannon Bennett and you can find it in his book My French Vue or if you're in Melbourne, it might just pop up as part of a degustation menu at his restaurant.

dark chocolate sponge with blue cheese© by Haalo

Dark Chocolate Sponge
Makes an 18cm square sponge

80 grams dark chocolate (at least 66% - I used 70%)
50 grams 100% cocoa mass
40 grams butter
45mls espresso coffee
15 grams cocoa powder
3 eggs, separated
70 grams icing sugar

Prepare the pan:

Brush the base and sides of an 18cm square, loose-bottomed tin with butter and then tip in a spoonful of cocoa powder. Shake the tin to coat it evenly in cocoa - disgard the excess.

Make the sponge:

Place the dark chocolate, cocoa mass and butter in a small pan and place over a gently heat. Keep a close eye and stir often until it has melted. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in the coffee and cocoa powder and then add the egg yolks one at a time.

Whisk the eggs whites and icing sugar until they reach soft peak. I like to use icing sugar because it dissolves into the white much easier - you can of course use caster sugar.

Slacken the batter with a spoonful of meringue and then fold the remaining meringue through in two batches.

Pour out into your prepared tin and bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 15-25 minutes. Test with a skewer - it will come out clean when it's cooked.

Let it cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning it out onto a cake rack.

To cut the cake:

It get nice smooth slices it's important to use a hot knife - just soak you knife in water and it will cut through the cake with ease. You'll also need to clean your knife after each cut.

To serve:

Place a square/rectangle slice of cake alongside a similar sized square of blue cheese. While the original dish found it's match with Roquefort, I've used South Cape Blue.

I know there will be some people out there that will look at whole idea of this with horror but be not a sceptic, this is a combination that works.

9 comments:

  1. I am one of those who is a bit skeptical, but I looooove blue cheese -- and chocolate. So. . .

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  2. Wow, I am speechless. I've never imagined that blue cheese could blend well with dark chocolate. This is totally amazing! thanks again for your help!

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  3. I love this creativity!!

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  4. I can totally totally believe this...not skeptical at all!

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  5. I have seen chocolate paired with many things, but never blue cheese!!! Might be interesting!!!

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  6. I am sold - now I will be keeping my eye out for those 100% cocoa buttons when I make it to the markets next

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  7. Chocolate and blue cheese sounds intruiguing...I must give it a try. That cake looks and sounds amazing too. Where did you get the cocoa mass? Do you think it would be ok to replace it with 85% cocoa chocolate if I can't find it?

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  8. Hope you give it a try BiblioChef!

    Thanks Dhanggit!

    Thanks Dawn!

    Thanks MM!

    Thanks Trish!

    Thanks Nina!

    Thanks Johanna - you can find those buttons and the cocoa butter at Monsieur Truffe in Collingwood

    Thanks Spice - there shouldn't be a problem using 85%

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