Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Japanese Dark Pearl Cake

For some unknown reason, baking with chocolate always seems like a whole new science to me. Sometimes the recipe works, sometimes it doesn't. And as such, recipes with melted chocolate always leave me procrastinating, longer than usual. 

This Japanese Dark Pearl cake is no exception. I recalled being soooo intrigued by Bee Bee's post, that I jumped right at trying it out. Baking chiffons has always been a challenge to me, and I dare say, many other home bakers as well. Heard of those horror stories of cake collapsing, shrinking, fell like a bomb from the chiffon tin, I've been there, done that. Having had much success with an orange chiffon, then a pandan chiffon, I wondered if I could move on to the chocolate chiffon. 

Well I thought with a scoff, that's simple, just substitute part of the flour with cocoa powder. Ain't that easy? No. Not until I saw aunty yochana's post of this mysterious Japanese Dark Pearl Cake via HoneyBeeSweets.
I saw the texture and colour of Bee Bee's cake and it was simply screaming "chocolate overload!!!". How else would you get such deep, intense chocolate flavour with just cocoa powder in a chiffon?! Duh, melted dark chocolate!

I jumped right at the chance to try it out, it was the moment recipe I was waiting for. Then I read the comments at aunty yochana's and saw a number of "failures" and the debate about whether there was enough flour. I left a comment at Bee Bee's and her success was an assurance to me, so ahead, I went. I can't remember exactly what was I trying to bake or assemble, but I recalled being totally defeated while mixing the batter. The flour was soooo little, the chocolate relatively more and the egg yolk/cocoa batter was so thick and gooey, my arms ached while mixing them together. Even my whisk threated to fall apart because of its sticky pressure.  For some very odd reason, I can't recall what happened after that. I couldn't even remember if the batter made it into the oven, and if it did, did it even made its way to our tummies. I could only conclude that the failure was so disastrous that my memory had even refused to recall that sad episode.

I chanced upon this Dark Pearl Cake back right where I first saw it last night and was determined to make it right this time. I must say that the bad experience hit so hard, I had trouble sleeping. Wondering if it would be a success and wondering if I would be wasting a good 150g of Valrhona chocoalte. -_-'''

By the time I gathered enough courage to go ahead with this once-failed-cake , I had to realised that:

1. my cream of tartar expired. Just great
2. I had ZERO baking soda. even better

I was stunned and literally stared at the bowl of melted chocolate. I thought "It's might not work anyway, just do it. And if it works, all the more better isn't it?" . How naive isn't it? Read on..

Since the failure of the last attempt, I decided the batter had to be much much lighter for it to have a slight chance of succeeding. So I decided to whip the egg yolks till ribbon stage and fold in the rest of the ingredients of the "cocoa batter". Things started to look a little optimistic when I saw a familiar "egg yolk batter" density. Being afraid that it would deflate fast, I rushed to wash the mixer attachment and went on at lightning speed with the whites. uh-oh. Mistake. No cream of tartar remember? 

I almost freaked out when I saw the once familiar lumps of egg whites, turning from a cloud of white to a puddle of almost deflated foam. Yikes. I stopped immediately and knew it was over-beaten. It's either gonna rise super high and collapse like the twin towers or it's not gonna rise at all. But I can't afford to dump all of it into the bin now! What a waste it'd be. So I went ahead with it, folded it in with much difficulty because overbeaten whites are so lumpy they are hard to incorporate without trying to break them up with more force. I ended up with a more watery batter than the usual chiffon batter, said my prayers and off in the oven it went. 

Surprise surprise! It rose, and almost to the brim in fact! But, the battle ain't over until the cake is out and cooled. And so I waited, and waited. The cake came out, though badly cracked, I couldn't care less. Not in comparison if it would survive the cooling. overturned. 

The cake shrank, no doubt, but not terribly or badly, just the way some chiffons shrink upon cooling. and yay! It hung on until it was time to unmould and my my, look at that tender crumb.Boy! was I glad I did not give up. As adventurous as it may sound, I start to wonder if it would have overflowed if I had baking soda and if the whites to beaten to perfection..hmmm

Nonetheless, the recipe proves to be a bake-able one. 

Looks can be deceiving so the ultimate test still lies in the taste buds. And this sure is a winner. Though, I must say it's quite unlike most chiffons. It's not as light, it carries a certain body to the cake but definitely very very flavourful with a deep, dark intense chocolate sensation. Contrary to belief, the chocolate in the cake did not make the texture dry. In fact, the cake is so moist, I could literally hear the "whoosh" as my fork went through the cake as I ate. 

And of course, don't take my words for real. Try it yourself and be convinced! 

Japanese Dark Pearl Cake

Cocoa Batter:

150 gm. Chocolate - chopped (I used 70% Valrhona Chocolate)
90 ml. water
100 gm. corn oil ( I used sunflower oil)
25 gm. cocoa powder (I used Valrhona Cocoa powder)
65 gm. cake flour
1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (substituted it with double action baking powder)
115 gm. egg yolks (I used 6 egg yolks)

Egg White Batter:

225 gm. egg white (~257g egg whites which is approximately 7 egg whites)
100 gm. castor sugar (I used raw sugar)
a pinch of salt (forgot to add it)
1/8 tsp. of cream of tartar (omitted it)

(1) Melt chocolate and stir till smooth. Add in cornoil slowly, stirring all the time till smooth. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and stir till smooth.   Whisk the egg yolks with ~30g of sugar (from the 100g) until pale and fluffy (ribbon stage). Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together and mix together with the chocolate-oil mixture. Fold the beaten yolks slowly into the mixture, taking care not to deflate the mixture.

(2) Whisk egg white with cream of tartar till frothy, then pour in sugar gradually and then add in the salt. whiks till a soft peak is formed.
(3) Fold egg white into the egg yolk mixture and then pour into a 23" to 25 "  21" round chiffon cake pan.

(4) Bake at 175C  170C for about 45  40mins. or till cooked. till skewer inserted emerges with loose crumbs attached.

(5) Invert cake onto a cooling rack until completely cooled. Remove cake from pan and serve.

*Changes I made are in Italics.
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