For the March We Should Cocoa challenge Chele of Chocolate Teapot has chosen lime as the ingredient to be used with chocolate. My first thought was to combine these two with mango, which I know can work well, but that felt a little too summery to me. So it was chocolate cake time again.
The cake in question is a flourless sponge with added grated pear. The pear is there partly because I think pear and chocolate work well together in cakes but is mostly there to keep the cake moist. The effect is to produce something that, for me, is a bit like a lighter version of a brownie. The idea of adding fruit comes from an Australian recipe (a Dov Sokoni recipe, I think) that I saw a dozen or so years ago. That recipe added apple to a chocolate cake – sounds odd but I promise it works.
For the topping, I’ve used a very simple frosting based on lime curd. The recipe below will make too much lime curd for the cake (in fact, it will make about 2 standard jars) but I don’t think it’s very practical to make a smaller amount. Anyway, if there’s any spare, then I’ll come round and eat it. If you prefer, you could just serve the mascarpone and lime curd mixture alongside the cake.
The cake should divide up into 8 (or more) pieces, but be careful when handling and cutting the cake, because it can be a little fragile.
For the lime curd:
210 g caster sugar
140 g butter, cut into small pieces
Zest and juice of 4 limes
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the cake:
5 eggs, separated
125 g caster sugar
125 g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
125 g ground almonds
150 g peeled and grated pear – so 1 large or 2 small ripe but firmish pears (I like comice pears for this sort of use, if they’re available)
For the topping:
250 g mascarpone
8 tbsp lime curd
2 – 4 tsp icing sugar (to taste)
To make the lime curd, set a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water – make sure that the bowl isn’t touching the water or the curd is likely to overheat. Put the sugar, butter, lime juice and zest into the bowl and stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has fully dissolved.
Add the eggs and keep stirring until the curd thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. You could keep the curd in the fridge if you’re going to use it quickly, but I was traditional and put it into sterilised jars.
To make the cake, grease a 21cm square cake tin, preferably a loose-bottomed tin if you have one. Grease the tin carefully since the cake is prone to sticking. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Thoroughly beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until they’re very pale. Stir in the pear, chocolate and ground almonds until fully combined. Beat the egg whites to the stiff peak stage and fold them in.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for around 35 minutes. The baking time for this cake can vary depending on the moisture in the pears, so test with a skewer or knife point after about 25 minutes and continue to check regularly. The skewer should come out clean when the cake is ready.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes or so before carefully turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the topping, simply beat together the mascarpone and lime curd and add as much or as little icing sugar as seems right to you.
To serve, cut the cake up into rectangular chunks, spread with the topping and rough it up with a fork.