Pascale’s Kitchen: Decadent chocolate cakes

Below, you will find three recipes for chocolate cakes that appear in Sweet Fifty. Although the recipes may look complicated at first glance, they are actually quite simple. 

 Cinnamon and walnut cake (photo credit: ASSAF AMBRAM)
Cinnamon and walnut cake
(photo credit: ASSAF AMBRAM)

I featured pastry chef Muriel Uzan in a column six years ago, in which she shared with us a number of recipes for festive desserts for Sukkot. At the time, I ventured down South to visit with Muriel in her home in Moshav Gilat, near Ofakim, which was so bright and orderly that it reminded me of a pharmacy. 

A charming and beautiful woman, Muriel creates cakes with the most wonderful flavors and designs. Although she grew up in a home filled with the aroma of freshly baked goods, she began her career as a registered nurse and makeup artist; she also has a master’s in public policy. She found her way to the confectionery world when she took an Osim Bishul baking workshop at the Oren Giron School. Soon after, Muriel found herself making a big change, signing up to study at Lenôtre in Paris.

Muriel is married to Michael, has four children, and just added the title of grandmother. She recently fulfilled another dream: To celebrate her 50th birthday, she published a cookbook titled Sweet Fifty. All the recipes in the cookbook are for decadent cakes that achieve the height of aestheticism.

“My cookbook is divided into five sections – I wanted there to be something here for everyone,” Muriel explains.

“My cookbook is divided into five sections – I wanted there to be something here for everyone.”

Muriel Uzan
 THE WRITER (L) with pastry chef Muriel Uzan (credit: Eitan Wachsman) THE WRITER (L) with pastry chef Muriel Uzan (credit: Eitan Wachsman)

The first section is for simple cakes. The second section includes recipes for more specialized cakes. The third section focuses on tarts, such as the recipe for a coconut and pineapple tart, as well as a pistachio tart. The fourth section explains how to create petit fours, which are geared toward advanced bakers. The fifth section is dedicated to Muriel’s colleagues, who have become an integral part of her personal development. 

Below, you will find three recipes for chocolate cakes that appear in Sweet Fifty. Although the recipes may look complicated at first glance, they are actually quite simple. 

The first recipe is for a cinnamon and walnut cake, which is rich and moist. The incredible flavor comes from the ground walnuts together with the cinnamon. Muriel adds a decadent chocolate drizzle on top of this cake, as well as some chocolate swirls, which are wonderful but completely optional.

The second recipe is for an orange, hazelnut and chocolate marble cake. Muriel loves adding chocolate drizzle and then ganache on top of her cakes, which provide a few different textures that combine together with each bite. You are welcome to add just one or the other. 

The third recipe is for a vegan chocolate cake that is fancy enough to serve at a Shabbat meal.

“You’ll be surprised at how good this cake is, and I recommend it for everyone, even if you’re not vegan,” Muriel says.

The cookbook was published by Nir Publishing and is available for purchase for NIS 180 on Muriel’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

CINNAMON & WALNUT CAKE

Use a round pan with a 24-cm. diameter, or 2 loaf pans.

Batter:

  • 100 gr. (1 cup) walnuts, peeled
  • 350 gr. (2½ cups) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 300 gr. (1½ cups) demerara sugar
  • 1 container (200 gr.) sour cream
  • 80 gr. (1/3 cup) sweet cream
  • 240 gr. (1¼ cups) oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional)

Chocolate drizzle (optional):

  • 300 gr. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces
  • 50 gr. (¼ cup) oil
  • 50 gr. (½ cup) candied chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 175°. Grease and flour a baking pan. 

Process the nuts with the flour and cinnamon in a food processor until smooth. 

Whip the eggs and the sugar using an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment for 5-7 minutes until the mixture becomes light and airy. 

Next, add the sour cream, sweet cream, oil, vanilla and maple syrup to a large measuring container. 

Lower the speed of the beater and gradually and alternately add a little of the dry and wet mixtures to the egg mixture. Mix on a low speed until batter is mixed well. Use a spatula to fold over any batter on the edge of the bowl. 

Pour the batter into a pan and bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out dry with wet crumbs. If you’re using loaf pans, baking time will be 5-10 minutes less. Remove the cakes from the oven, and let them cool to room temperature. 

To prepare the chocolate drizzle: Melt the chocolate and oil together in a bowl in the microwave for a few seconds at a time so the chocolate does not burn, or over a bain-marie (a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water). Add the chopped nuts and mix. 

Place the cooled (or frozen) cake on a wire rack over a baking pan, then pour the chocolate drizzle on top. Note that you can keep the leftover chocolate drizzle to use another time. 

The cake can remain at room temperature for a week, or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Status: Dairy

 Orange, hazelnut and chocolate marble cake. (credit: ASSAF AMBRAM) Orange, hazelnut and chocolate marble cake. (credit: ASSAF AMBRAM)

ORANGE, HAZELNUT & CHOCOLATE MARBLE CAKE

Use a round pan with a 24-cm. diameter, or 2 loaf pans.

Batter:

  • 250 gr. (1 2/3 cups) self-rising flour 
  • 150 gr. (1½ cups) hazelnuts, roasted with skin
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 gr. (1¼ cups) sugar
  • 300 gr. (1¼ cups) orange juice
  • 240 gr. (1¼ cups) oil
  • 40 gr. (2 heaping Tbsp.) hazelnut cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 100 gr. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Chocolate drizzle:

  • 300 gr. bittersweet chocolate
  • 40 gr. (3 Tbsp.) oil
  • 40 gr. candied nuts

Chocolate ganache:

  • 1 container (250 gr.) sweet cream
  • 200 gr. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces
  • 200 gr. hazelnut cream (can be purchased in specialty stores)
  • 50 ml. hot milk

Preheat oven to 175°. Grease and flour a baking pan. 

Process the flour together with the nuts in a food processor until smooth.

Add the orange juice, oil, hazelnut cream, vanilla and orange zest to a large measuring container.

Whip the eggs and the sugar using an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment for 5-7 minutes until the mixture becomes light and airy. Lower the speed of the beater and gradually and alternately add a little of the dry and wet mixtures to the egg mixture.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into the greased pan. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining 1/3 of batter that remains in the bowl. Mix well. 

Pour the chocolate batter into the pan, and then drag a knife inside the batter to create a marble design between the two colors. 

Bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out dry with wet crumbs. If you’re using loaf pans, baking time will be 5-10 minutes less.

To prepare the chocolate drizzle: Melt the chocolate and oil together in a bowl in the microwave for a few seconds at a time so the chocolate does not burn, or over a bain-marie (a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water). Add the chopped nuts and mix. 

Place the cake on a wire rack over a baking pan, then pour the chocolate drizzle on top. Note that you can keep the leftover chocolate drizzle to use another time. 

To prepare the chocolate ganache: Heat the cream and milk. Just before the mixture boils, add the chocolate and hazelnut cream. Wait 2 minutes, then blend with a hand blender until smooth and shiny. 

Let the ganache cool down to room temperature, then transfer to a pastry bag with a tip. I used a grass nozzle on the cake in the photograph. 

The cake can remain at room temperature for three days, or up to two months in the freezer. Status: Dairy

 Vegan chocolate cake (credit: ASSAF AMBRAM) Vegan chocolate cake (credit: ASSAF AMBRAM)

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Use a round pan with a 24-cm. diameter, or 2 loaf pans.

Batter:

  • 100 gr. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces
  • 1 can (400 gr.) coconut cream
  • 200 gr. unsweetened apple sauce 
  • 60 gr. date spread
  • 200 gr. (1 cup) sugar
  • 30 gr. (3 Tbsp.) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 160 gr. (¾ cup + 1 Tbsp.) oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 250 gr. (1¾ cups) flour
  • 1 packet baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

Ganache:

  • 150 gr. (1/3 can) coconut cream
  • 150 gr. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces 

Preheat oven to 175°. Grease a baking pan, or line with greased baking paper. 

To prepare the batter: Melt the chocolate with the coconut cream in the microwave a few seconds at a time, or over a bain-marie on the stove. Mix with a whisk until smooth. 

Add the rest of the ingredients in order, then mix well and pour batter into the pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on size of the pan, until cake is firm. 

To prepare the ganache: Heat the coconut cream on the stove top. Just before it boils, add the chocolate. Wait for two minutes, then blend with a hand blender until smooth. Pour the ganache over the cake and serve immediately. The cake can be stored at room temperature. 

Status: Parve

Translated by Hannah Hochner.