This recipe is adapted from Melissa Clark’s Ambrosia Cake published in the New York Times on April 7, 2017 just before Easter and the recipe for Chocolate Glaze in Larousse on Pastry. The search for a dessert for Easter dinner began with a desire for something frosted in white, garnished with coconut and strewn with edible flowers. Melissa’s cake seemed perfectly adaptable. I would use whipped cream instead of the marshmallow frosting, and edible flowers in lieu of strawberries.
When I couldn’t find edible flowers in any of our local South Florida grocers, the dried edible rose petals I had on hand seemed like a good substitute – at first. But neither the coconut nor the clementines seemed palatable with dried rose petals; and, quite simply, I began to crave chocolate to compensate for not being able to realize my vision.
At first, I thought I would use a clementine-flavored chocolate ganache and clementine sections as the filling.
But the bulk of the clementine sections would have made the cake appear lumpy once a second layer was placed on top.
So, the bottom layer became the top layer and the entire cake was enveloped in chocolate.
Delicious! It helps to use fresh coconut, but it’s not a must. The clementines must be sweet.
Melissa Clark crafted a lovely flavor combination in the cake. Enveloped in chocolate, garnished with clementine sections and edged in flaked fresh coconut, the layers of flavor will make you stop and savor the moment.
- 2-3/4 c. flour
- 1 tbs. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tbs. dark rum (or 1 tsp coconut extract)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 12 tbs. (1-1/2 sticks) unsaltened butter, softened
- 1/4 c. virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled (or butter)
- 1 c. LESS 1 heaping tbs. sugar
- 4 large egs, room temperature, whites & yolks separated
- 1-1/4 tsp finely grated clementine zest (about 2 clementines)
- 8 oz bitter chocolate (70% Lindt Dark Chocolate works well)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 c. LESS 2 tbsp. whole milk
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream (or creme fraiche)
- 1-3/4 tbsp. sugar
- Juice from 2 clementines, strained
- Clementine sections, cleaned of the veins (about 2 more clementines)
- CAKE: Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, coconut milk, rum, and vanilla.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, coconut oil, and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, then beat in the zest.
- Beat in half the flour mixture, followed by half the milk mixture. Repeat, beating just until combined and scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- In a separate bowl, use an electric beater to whisk the egg whites, just until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cake batter.
- Divide the batter between the 2 pans. Bake until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes, then unmold the cakes and cool completely on the rack. (Cakes can be made up to 2 days ahead. Once cool, remove the parchment paper, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. This makes it much easier to slice the 2 cakes into 4 layers.)
- FROSTING: Bring water to simmer in a double boiler. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in the top part of the double-boiler . Gently melt, stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Cut the butter into small pieces. Add to the warm chocolate and mix gently until smooth and creamy.
- Put the milk in a small saucepan, and bring to the point where small bubbles form at the edge of the pan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the heavy cream, sugar, and clementine juice. Whisk well and bring back to a gentle simmer. (Do not boil.)
- Pour the contents of the saucepan into the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout, or into a pitcher.
- Pour slowly over each layer, beginning from the center and circling into gradually widening circles. When working on the top of the cake, work quickly, before the frosting hardens, to flatten with a long offset spatula.
- Decorate with clementine sections.
- About the chocolate... I used to think that the higher the percent of cocoa solids the better. But when I began using 85% and 90% dark chocolate, my chocolate glazes became grainy. At first, I thought it might be the brand. I switched from Ghiradelli to Lindt. But the results remained grainy. Finally, one day, I went back to 70% dark chocolate and voila! Perfection! Irrespective of brand. I guess there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.