Sunday, 27 March 2011

Spiced Chocolate Cake with Macerated Raspberries

The rules for this months Random Recipe Challange set up by the wonderful Dom at Belleau's Kitchen are to choose the 18th book on your cookbook shelves, and then select a recipe at random.

...and the 18th book on my shelve is... gourmet food for a fiver by Michelin star chef, Jason Atherton; and the recipe I picked at random is spiced chocolate cake with macerated raspberries.

If you're into chocolate, you'll love the richness of the cake. Gently spiced with cinnamon, ginger and allspice, it is beautifully moist and very easy to make.

At first, I was terrified when I got the book simply because I thought the recipes will be overly complicated. But actually that wasn't the case at all. Many of the recipes are pretty accessible for home cooks and there are so many delicious recipes I cannot wait to try cooking and eating.

If you don't know, Jason used to work as the head chef at Gordon Ramsay's Maze in London's Grosvernor Square. It is one of the most delicious restaurants I've been to and no doubt the most expensive. I went there about a couple of years ago. Upon arrival we were welcomed with glasses of champagne and Chef Taster's in the maze bar. Following the champagne reception, we were then seated at the Chef's Table, located in the kitchen where the magic begins. We were then greeted by the head chef at the time (I cannot remember his name). We also had our own private waiter and a sommelier to fulfil our every need.

The 12 course (yes, 12 course) dinner was presented so beautifully and each dish was brought to the table and explained by the chef who created the dish. We were also given a tour of the kitchen which was really cool.

The most wonderful and memorable part of the evening for me was when the head chef came back to our table and asked if any of us would like to cook in the kitchen with him. I yelled with excitement, "ME!". He took me to the kitchen, I put on the apron and we cooked roasted sea scallops with textures of apples, butterscotch and bacon. It was my first experience cooking scallops and it was such an opportunity to learn from the professionals. The scallops were lightly dusted with curry spices and then pan-fried and finished in the oven. When cooked, it was placed on top of apple purée and topped with crispy bacon, thin slices of apples, coriander leaves and drizzled with butterscotch sauce...

I then had to bring the dish to the table and presented it to the rest of the guests. I also got to keep the apron which I still very often wear :)


roasted sea scallops with textures of apples, butterscotch and bacon

At the end of the meal, the bill for the six of us came up to just a little over £1,500.00 (USD $2,400.00). Fortunately, I didn't have to pay for it. My ex's parents did...

Spiced Chocolate Cake with Macerated Raspberries
Recipe by Jason Atherton
Makes 8 - 10 slices

200 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra to grease the dish
2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra to dust
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
200 g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
150 g caster sugar
5 large eggs, separated

Macerated raspberries:
250 g raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust
3 lemon thyme sprigs, leaves picked

First, prepare the macerated raspberries. In a bowl, whisk the icing sugar with 3 tbsp of warm water until dissolved, then add the raspberries and lemon thyme leaves and toss gently. Set aside to macerate for an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease the base and sides of a 23 cm Pyrex flan dish, 4 cm deep, with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

Sift the 2 tbsp flour with the spices and set aside. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and spiced flour. Let cool slightly then beat in the egg yolks until well combined.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold into the chocolate mixture, a third at a time.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Leave in the dish to firm up a little, the transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. The cake will rise and the top is likely to crack in the oven, then it will collapse slightly on cooling.

To plate: slice the cake with hot knife. Sift icing sugar over each slice before plating. Spoon some macerated raspberries on and around the cake and drizzle with some of the juice.


  1. Wow how brilliant to be able to go and cook in the kitchen!

    I'm definitely taking note of the chocolate cake recipe, it looks amazing.

    Abbie xx

  2. everything looks so delicious! I'm reading this and it's 1AM and I'm getting serious midnight munchies.

  3. Michael, I can tell you will be a constant source of amusement and amazement for me. I wouldn't make a cake (I don't bake). But my partner, Peter, would. I'll forward this to him.

  4. The chocolate cake looks heavenly delicious.

    Oh, btw, I'll be in Cambridge, UK in mid-July for a conference and will be in the UK for 2-3 weeks. I would love to meet some local blogger in UK.

  5. Fab stuff Michael. Such an interesting post. You lucky thing to have been able to cook in a real kitchen!!! Thanks for taking part in the challenge. Lovely photo and great recipe. Dom x

  6. Looks really good!! I can't believe you have at least 18 cookbooks!! I only have like 5 haha. That was some expensive dinner too!! lol

  7. That is an insane amount of money for a dinner - OMG! How cool that you cooked in their kitchen! I love the cake with all those warm spices - looks intensely chocolate and delicious!

  8. Oh man.... I could totally go some of that delicious sea scallop, what a gorgeous little meal. :) Love the picture of service, isn't it a buzz in the kitchen?! I am so hungry now. :)

  9. What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Ok, first...the cake looks luscious! I could devour that in one sitting :) frickin' cool!! You got to cook with the head chef!! Definitely would be an amazing moment...thanks for sharing that story!

  11. Oh you lucky guy to go into the kitchen and cook with the chef. The scallops sounded heavenly with the butterscotch. What a brilliant combo. This cake is perfect for me with the rich moistness and the hint of spices. Lovely!

  12. You look so pro in your kitchen set-up Micheal :) Even the presentation of the desserts. Oh my I wish I could eat chocolates now or even desserts. But I can't, I was barking all night due to my cough. The sickie lady is craving to taste your sweets :p

  13. That is so awesome you got to cook with the head chef. You must have been delighted! And what a cake!

    P.S. I got kicked out of Maze. Just had to vent that.

  14. wow what an exciting experience!
    The cake looks so elegant garnished with raspberries..perfect presentation!

  15. How fun that you were able to go back and cook in the kitchen, looks like a beautiful dish. And this cake is divine :)

  16. Thanks for thw eonderful comments everyone. I had the last slice of the cake earlier, just so you know... :)

    @Victor: I am well up for meeting some bloggers. Let me know details nearer the time.

    @Anna: Love the buzz in the kitchen. Hectic but totally fun!

    @Rick: I just have to ask. How did you manage to get kick out of Maze?!?

  17. I've always wondered what a meal like that would cost. I figured it was somewhere in the thousands. But for 6 people, that's not bad. Good thing your ex's parents paid!! What an amazing experience!

    I don't even think I own 18 cookbooks. Would food magazines count?? LOL!

    This cake looks moist and rich. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I can hardly imagine a 12 course dinner, what a fantastic meal. And getting to cook in the kitchens too - great fun. Your cake looks gorgeous too, raspberries go so well with chocolate cake.

  19. Great post! You picked such a great recipe!