Valentine’s Delight – Rich Ebony Cake with Garnet Sauce


A local non-profit, The Organic Food Fight started by the very enterprising Alexandra Hanifin and Sarah Orens hosted a local baking contest to benefit their favorite non-profits, The School Food Project and Allergy Kids.

My dense chocolate sweet bread (made gluten-free) took third place. While I prefer the version with flour and no nuts, this one came out pretty well. To read more about the event click here. The recipe for the winning vegan carrot cake is there. It was exceptionally good!

My secret ingredient was duck eggs from Grant Family Farms. They really help make this wet batter rise beautifully. My favorite way to enjoy this cake is with a fresh fruit sauce. Although a bit of freshly whipped cream would be divine too and is how most folks in my house devour it.

With Valentine’s Day on a Monday, make this cake today, it’s even better the next day.

Be sure to follow the directions exactly. I also include 2 fruit sauces for you to try, either with this cake or with vanilla ice cream. I poured a very smooth and thin layer of chocolate ganache over the top of my cake and dipped several whole hazelnuts in the ganache for garnish.

Rich Ebony Cake -Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cups flour (or gluten free baking mix. See note below)
1 tsp. baking soda (If you are using a gluten free baking mix, omit this ingredient as GF baking mixes already have baking soda added to it)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 duck eggs ( or 2 extra large chicken eggs, 3 if at high altitude)
1 tsp. vanilla extract plus 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. freshly boiled water
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups, chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degree. Butter a 9 x5-inch loaf pan – glass works best. Line it with parchment paper – you can just place the parchment in on the longest side with some of the ends hanging out. This is just to help lift the the loaf cake out once it has cooled.  Place on a baking sheet as this batter is very wet and can spill over during the baking process.

Mix your dry ingredients together. Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs -1 at a time- and then the vanilla.

Next on low, mix in the cooled chocolate. Do not over beat. Make sure to have your flour mix and boiled water ready. Now gently add some of the flour and combine. Now some of the boiled water. Once all the wet and dry ingredients are combined you will have a fairly liquid batter. Now add your chips and nuts.

Pour it into the loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for another 15 minutes. The toothpick tester method will not work as the cake is very moist. The cake should be firm and not totally gooey in the center.

If you can let it cool for a solid day then that is what I recommend. It doesn’t happen in this house as this is my kid’s favorite dessert. But you should really let it cool for a few hours before removing it from the pan.

Two Fruit Sauces

Cranberry Garnet Sauce

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (tangerine works well too)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier (optional)

Combine all the ingredients, except for the Grand Marnier in a heavy sauce pan. Simmer over meduim to low heat for 12 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor or use an immersion blender and mix until smooth. Add the Grand Marnier. This sauce gets very thick as it cools. You can thin it with water if you like it less so.

Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

3 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 pints strawberries, sliced
2 tsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh mint

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the strawberries and cook, stirring occasionally until the berries begin to release their juices.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the berries to a bowl and continue to reduce the sauce for another 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and mint. Remove from heat and stir into the strawberries. Let stand for 2 minutes then remove the mint. Stir and serve slightly warm.

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