My Ecuadorian friend Susanna visited Europe a few weeks ago to participate in a chocolate fair here in London and one in Paris. She develops some of the best chocolate that I have ever tasted. She kindly left me with a bag of chocolate couverture to do something tasty with.
Montecristi Chocolate is an organic chocolate couverture named after one of the most iconic towns in the region of Manabi, Ecuador. Susanna buys the cacao bean directly from the farmer at a fair price and produces the finished product in the country of origin. This benefits the local economy and the small scale farmers.
The cake recipe I came up with is both dairy and gluten free. I have tried to keep the amount of refined sugar to a minimum, using agave syrup as a substitute. The coconut oil is a perfect match with the chocolate that has hints of tropical fruit. To make the cake more festive I made a spiced orange syrup and served with freshly cut orange segments.
200 g dark chocolate, I used 63% cacao
125 g cold pressed virgin coconut oil
150 g ground almond, blanched
100 ml agave syrup
4 eggs, separated
1 tbsp of cacao powder
Pre heat the oven to 180 °C
Add the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt.
Grease and line a cake tin, measuring about 20 cm in diameter, using coconut oil and cacao powder.
Using an electric whisk beat the agave syrup together with the coconut oil. Add the egg yolks and whisk for a minute then add the ground almond followed by the melted chocolate.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. I use a metal bowl for my egg whites but glass will also do, never use plastic. Make sure to clean and dry the whisk beforehand.
Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. It’s important not to stir too much as the air in the egg whites will be lost.
Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
The cake should have a nice gooey centre.
Spiced Orange Syrup
250 ml freshly pressed orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
50 ml agave syrup
Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottom pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. The liquid will reduce to just over 100 ml.
Serve the cake with orange segments and a drizzle of syrup.