Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chocolate and Clementine Cake with Caramelised Clementines

Although my family does not have religious reasons to celebrate Diwali, it is among the festivals that I most enjoy. I love mithai, and there can hardly be an excuse better than Diwali to indulge one's weakness for Indian sweets.

Growing up in Delhi, I also enjoyed Diwali for reasons that had little to do with my sweet tooth. Typically, Diwali comes at an unusually pleasant time in Delhi's calendar. By Diwali, the summer heat is well on its retreat from the city, but the harshness of its winter is still comfortably distant. I remember Diwali as a beautiful time in the apartment block where I grew up, with blinking diyas and pretty rangoli designs marking the doors of most homes. My brother, like most boys his age, was particularly busy at Diwali, stocking up on crackers especially the deadly aloo bomb. Diwali day was inevitably a noisy affair with crackers going off across the city relentlessly. In the evening, children of varying ages, each accompanied by a (justifiably) nervous parent or two, would gather in the courtyard, gleefully demolishing their collective stock of crackers. I enjoyed the sparkly, less noisy crackers the most but the popular vote typically went in favour of noisy "bombs". Wisely anticipating that most children would prefer to stock up on crackers than attend school, our schools let us off for an extended break over Diwali, giving us yet another reason to look forward to it.
It has been years since I have been back in India at Diwali time, and I have to say that I miss the festivities surrounding it. This year, I had hoped to cook up a traditional mithai at home but a lack of imagination and ingredients prevented me from putting that idea into action.

My flatmate and I decided this weekend that it has been far too long since we enjoyed homemade chocolate cake. I have a trusted recipe for chocolate cake that I rarely deviate from. Making an exception for once, I tinkered with it to come up with a chocolate and clementine cake, mainly because far too many clementines had made their way into our shopping basket this week. We paired the cake with caramelized clementines and vanilla icecream on the side. My favourite bit was the caramelized clementines which were surprisingly easy to put together, and added much in terms of texture and flavour to the cake. 

Happy Diwali.

Chocolate and Clementine Cake
(adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup  cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
  • 3 tbsp clementine zest (be sure to avoid the white, bitter pith when zesting)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch baking pan. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, butter, clementine juice and zest; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for around 50 minutes to 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from the pan to a wire rack. Cool completely. Serve with vanilla icecream and caramelised clementines.
    Caramelised Clementines
    I eyeballed this recipe, so please refer to the measurements below with a pinch of salt
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
    6-8 clementines, thinly sliced
    Heat the sugar in a non-stick pan until it caramelises. Add the juice carefully and stir to combine. Next add the sliced clementines and cook for around 10-15 minutes turning frequently until the fruit is cooked on both sides. Tranfer the fruit and syrup into a bowl.