Most readers know that I try (and fail miserably) to follow a gluten-free diet, but have I mentioned that what I really need to stay away from is dairy? As of May 2022, I am lactose intolerant. One day I could put half and half in my coffee, and the next day I couldn't. It's hard to avoid dairy, since many commercially manufactured foods contain milk in some form (WHY?), and restaurants love to use tons of butter in everything. The best and most obvious way to keep lactose out of my body is to cook everything from scratch, which is fine, if I was into that sort of thing. Instead, I have invested in large jars of Lactaid pills, which need to be taken every 30-45 minutes if I'm eating something that might contain dairy. And as I said, it seems to be everywhere.
I was dreaming about cake the other night (literally) and when I woke up, I decided it was time to bake one. Specifically, Nigella Lawson's clementine cake. We had a big bag of clementines, plenty of eggs, and a new bag of almond flour. It's an oddball cake in that the clementines are first boiled, then cooled, and finally plopped into a food processor for a spin. Peels, flesh, all of it. This makes for an extremely moist cake with a ton of orange-y flavor.
I've made this baby a number of times over the years, and this time I thought I'd make it a little differently. I wanted a chocolate orange cake, one that might taste like those Droste or Terry's chocolate oranges. If you've never had one, they're balls of orange-flavored chocolate made up of orange-wedge-shaped pieces, all wrapped in foil to resemble--you guessed it--an orange. I already had the orange portion of the program under control, but needed to incorporate chocolate. I did this by subbing out 1/3 cup of the almond flour for cocoa powder, and I made a non-dairy chocolate ganache for the top. Can't have too much chocolate! And to make it pretty, I decorated the cake with candied orange slices from TJ's. If you don't have those, leave the cake as is. It will be delicious no matter what.
This cake is not super sweet, so if you like 'em sugary, you might want to try a different recipe.
Chocolate Orange Cake
For the cake:
4 to 5 clementines (about 1 lb total)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 large eggs
2 cups ground almonds
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
For the ganache:
1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Chips. If you use sweetened chips, omit the sugar.)
1 teaspoon non-dairy butter substitute (I like Earth Balance original)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Candied orange peel or candied orange slices from Trader Joe's
To make the cake:
Put clementines in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn temperature down so the water is at a hearty simmer and cook for 2 hours, adding more water if the pot looks like it's running dry. Drain and allow fruit to cool. Once the fruit is cool, tear them open, remove the stem bit from the end and any seeds.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place the clementines--skin, pith, and all--into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Add the sugar and puree. Add the eggs and pulse to combine. Add the almonds, cocoa, and baking powder and pulse until completely incorporated.
Line an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment and coat bottom and sides of pan with butter or release spray. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour then check doneness with a toothpick. If the pick comes out with moist crumbs, it's done. If it comes out with batter on it, add more time. At this point, the cake might start to burn, so cover the top with a piece of foil for any remaining time in the oven.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool completely on a rack before loosening the pan sides. Move the cake to a cake plate by putting a plate on top of the cake and inverting it. Remove the pan bottom and carefully peel off the parchment.
To make the ganache:
Put the non-dairy milk and sugar (if using) in a microwave-safe bowl. (A 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup is perfect for this.) Cook on high for 2 minutes, then stir. If the mixture hasn't yet boiled, put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds or so. Watch so it doesn't boil over! Remove the cup from the microwave and add the chocolate chips. Stir to melt chocolate. Once the chocolate is nearly all melted, add the butter substitute and the vanilla bean paste. Stir until smooth.
Ganache will thicken as it cools. When it reaches a consistency that is thick but still pourable, pour over the top of the cooled cake. Use an offset spatula to smooth out the top. Decorate with candied orange peel or slices.
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Posted on Minxeats.com.