If you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule you’ll know that it’s not a particular type of diet, but more of a lifestyle change that can lead to sustainable health benefits. Simply, the principle behind the rule is to eat nutritious foods most of the time (8- percent) and allow yourself to indulge a little the other 20 percent of the time. It’s about making choices that encourage balance and moderation.
As a matter of preference, we eat vegetarian (mostly vegan), whole and plant-based foods at home and on occasion, particularly special celebrations, I indulge in rich and unapologetically decadent chocolate desserts. When I allow myself to be seduced by the power of chocolate, I turn to what might be the ultimate decadence: a sinfully delicious and silky flourless chocolate cake. The beauty of this cake is that it is elegant on it’s own or when dressed up, and it’s easy to make. Here, a whisper of cardamom adds depth and a bit of Grand Marnier adds that extra je ne sais quoi that lingers as the luxuriously creamy and chocolaty goodness melts in your mouth. No need to feel guilty. Sometimes, when it’s this good, it’s okay to be a little bad. 😉
Cardamom Flourless Chocolate Cake
1/2 pound / 230 grams good quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup / 100 grams heavy cream, cold
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup / 50 grams sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon / 12 grams Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon / 2 grams ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 300F. Grease an 8″ baking pan and line bottom of the inside of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment round.
Melt chocolate over a double boiler.
In a separate bowl, whisk cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
In another bowl, use a mixer (or hand whisk) to whisk eggs, sugar and salt until well combined and ribbony. It should form very soft peaks. Add Grand Marnier and cardamom and mix until incorporated.
Add half of the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, stir until combined. Add remaining chocolate and stir. Carefully fold in 1/2 of the whisked cream. Then fold the remaining cream. Do not over mix.
Pour batter into baking pan and set pan in a bain-marie (water-bath) before placing in the oven. This is a nice technique that helps to better regulate the cooking temperature in recipes, like custards and creme brûlées, that rely mostly on eggs for their structure.
For perfect baked custards, creme brulees and cheesecakes, a recipe will often recommend setting them in a bain-marie, or water bath, when they go in the oven. It’s a nifty trick to better regulate the cooking temperature in recipes that rely mostly on eggs for their structure. The water-bath helps to absorb the heat and distributes it gently and evenly around the cake.
Place the filled cake pan into a roasting pan or other baking vessel. For ample water circulation, the outside pan should be wide enough, leaving 1-2 inches around the cake pan and the sides should be high enough to hold about an inch of water.
Carefully pull the centre rack halfway out of your preheated oven and carefully place the roasting pan on it. Using a kettle or pitcher, pour hot tap water carefully into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Gently slide the oven rack back into place. Bake until set, about 40-45 minutes, it will not jiggle at all. When the cake is cooked, pull the rack halfway out again and carefully remove the cake pan. Carefully discard water. Let cake cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Serve with powdered sugar, fresh berries, whipped cream or candied fruit.
Whipped Cream and Kumquat Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound kumquats, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cardamom pods
2 whole clove
2 whole allspice berries
1/2 cinnamon stick
Whisk cream to soft peaks and refrigerate until needed.
Place kumquats in a bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, sugar, salt, cardamom, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Simmer until the sugar dissolves into a simple syrup. Remove from heat and allow to infuse for 15-20 minutes.
Discard the spices, and add the kumquats to simple syrup. Simmer over medium heat until the kumquats are just tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Serve slices of cake with cream, sauce and adorn with kumquats.