Tuesday 27 March 2012

Spiced Cocoa Nib Chocolate Cakes

These little cakes try to pretend they're muffins or simple treats - but they're not.

They're deeply laced with dark muscovado and quality cocoa. Their hearts are soaked with spiced syrup, pushing them into the league of squishy brownies and chocolate fondants. They're topped with crunchy, slightly bitter cocoa nibs.

Each bite needs the cradle of a spoon.

The spices in the soaking syrup are totally up for adaptation. I replaced the chili powder with some fresh ginger, added vanilla, used powdered cinnamon instead of sticks and so on. It needs to stand up to the powerful flavour of the muscovado, so make sure you give it some punch.


After thinking for weeks that I had to keep this piece of news deathly quiet, I realised a few days ago that I only needed to keep the image secret, so...

I'm very excited to say that I'm one of the finalists for the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2012! My image is shortlisted in Food Portraiture and will be displayed in the free exhibition at the Mall Galleries from 25-29th April. I still can't believe it!

Spiced Cocoa Nib Chocolate Cakes
(adapted from Paul A Young's Adventures with Chocolate)

For the cakes:
55g plain flour
35g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
110g dark brown muscovado sugar
95g unsalted butter, soft
1 egg
45ml double cream
40ml water
25g cocoa nibs

For the syrup:
75g caster sugar
75ml water
1/2 vanilla pod, or 1 once scraped out
1/2 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp ground
1cm width of fresh ginger, cut into rounds
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a muffin tin with six cases - I scrunched up squares of baking paper as Paul suggested. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. In a stand mixer cream the sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the egg and beat well to combine. Add the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix to combine - it will be a stiff mixture. Finally add the cream and water in two additions, mixing well between each one. Divide the mixture between the cases. Sprinkle with the cocoa nibs.

Bake for 14-18 minutes, checking to see if they're done at 14. They should be lightly domed and spring back to the touch of your finger in the centre.

Once the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for a few minutes then take off the heat and leave to infuse. When the cakes are out of the oven, brush them with plenty of syrup while they're still hot. Keep feeding them as it disappears. Best served barely warm.

(Makes 6)


  1. Ooh yum, these look absolutely delicious. Last time I made chocolate fondants I sprinkled some cacao nibs on the top - I love the crunch against all that velvety chocolate interior.

    Are these squidgy in the centre, or just sticky because of the syrup? Definitely going to try making them, in fact, after the couple of Paul A Young recipes you've posted, I think I need to buy the whole book!

  2. Congratulations Emma! Can we know which of your photo is the finalist? :)

  3. Congratulations!!! That is exciting news :-)

  4. Woo Hoo! Congrats on being a finalist for the Pink Lady Food Photography contest. So well deserved!
    Emma, I'm really looking forward to meeting you and your mum.

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