“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” – Katherine Hepburn
Roasting may be one of the most basic methods of cooking, but it’s also, in my mind at least, the most wonderful. Roasting brings about rich complex flavours, which is a director result of the chemical reaction food undergoes when it is roasted. This reaction, called the maillard reaction, is responsible for that delicious crust on the outside of a loaf of bread and the caramelisation that happens when meats are roasted.
Roasting works wonderfully not only with savoury foods, but sweet too. If you’ve ever roasted strawberries, figs or peaches you will know this to be true. And the same principal can apply to chocolate, specifically white chocolate, which not only deepens in colour as it caramelises in the oven, but in flavour too.
If you’re a regular reader you’ll already know about my love affair with roasted, or caramelised white chocolate, so when I came across a recipe for chocolate gelato that suggested roasting the cocoa to bring out richer, more complex flavours in the cocoa, I knew I had to try roasting cocoa and making a chocolate cake.
The end result is this roasted cocoa chocolate cake, which is rich and chocolatey. I’ve adapted Nigella Lawson’s chocolate orange cake recipe for this chocolate cake, not only because it is gluten free cake, but it also happens to be one of my favourite cake recipes, not least because it involves simply throwing all the ingredients in the food processor and blitzing to form a smooth batter.
I suspect that roasted cocoa would be especially wonderful in cookies, where the flavour would be more pronounced. That’s next on the list to try!
- Preheat the oven to 150 celsius (300 Fahrenheit) and line a baking tray/sheet with baking paper. Add the cocoa powder and spread it into an even layer and roast for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to ensure it doesn't catch and burn. Leave to cool completely before making the cake.
- Grease a 20cm (7 inch) springform pan and preheat the oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).
- Place the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Pour the batter into the springform pan and bake for 35 to 50 minutes. Check the cake after 30 minutes as you may need to cover it with foil to prevent burning before the cake is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing.
- To make the glaze place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and leave to sit for a minute. Add the sea salt and whisk to combine. Leave to cool at room temperature until the glaze is a spreadable consistency and not too runny. Spread the glaze across the top of the cake and ease it down the sides with an offset spatula.