How sweet it is.
A little more than one year ago I began a new adventure with this post.
Since then I've cooked, eaten, researched and waxed lyrical, and became a better cook because of this little site.
I've met and corresponded with so many wonderful people. Thank you so much for all of your support--not only for your kind words but also for dropping in to see what culinary nonsense I've gotten myself into.
So...the big question. How to mark such a tasty occasion? Well...with chocolate. Yes, I know you were probably thinking I'd mark it with cardamom (from where on Earth would you get that idea?), but, well...you see...I was flipping through Nigella Lawson's Feast, and her Honey Chocolate Cake beckoned.
Besides liking honey and chocolate and cake, what cinched it for me were the darling marzipan bees that dotted the pictured cake. Plump, chocolate striped and complete with almond flake wings and two little chocolate eyes, these little confectionary insects instantly won my heart in a Winnie-the-Pooh sort of way.
I wound up making the recipe, but as fairy cakes (each with its own bee), as my birthday treats in the office. Incredibly moist and sticky-sweet, thanks to the chocolate-honey glaze, the cakes, bees and all, disappeared within a couple of hours.
I didn't tamper with the recipe that much, as I added some vanilla to the cakes and honey and played with the chocolateness of the glaze: not enough to call the recipe mine, but enough to give me licence to rename this treat.
Makes 20-24 cakes
For the cake--
100g dark chocolate (86 per cent cocoa solids, if you can find it), broken into pieces
275g light muscovado sugar (light brown sugar)
225g soft butter
125ml runny vanilla'd honey (or 125ml runny honey with 1 dspn vanilla extract)
200g all purpose flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (real cocoa, not cocoa mix)
250ml boiling water
For the sticky glaze--
125ml runny honey
1 dspn vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
2 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
7 tbsp cocoa powder (real cocoa, not cocoa mix)
75g icing sugar
For the hunnybees--
125g yellow marzipan
yellow food colouring paste (optional)
40-50 almond flakes (plus more...just in case)
For the cakes:
- Preheat oven to 180˚C/350˚F and line two 12-bowl muffin trays with paper inserts.
- Sift together the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder; set aside.
- Either in the microwave in 30-second bursts between stirrings, or on the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey (and vanilla) and blend some more.
- Beat in one egg and one tablespoon of the flour mixture into the sweetened butter, then do the same again. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the rest of the flour mixture. Beat in the boiling water until the batter is smooth--don't worry if the batter is a bit thinner than you're used to. It's supposed to be that way.
- Pour into the lined muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the cake tops spring back when prodded lightly. Let cool completely.
For the glaze:
- Add the water, honey, chocolate pieces, butter and cocoa to a pot and let everything melt together, while stirring, over medium-low heat. Take it off the heat when little bubbles start forming at the sides.
- Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth.
- Spoon over the individual, cooled cakes.
For the hunnybees:
- Knead in as much foodcolouring as you want into the marzipan. If you've never used the paste, be careful as a very little goes a long way.
- Divide the marzipan into 24 equal pieces (they'll be about a teaspoon-and-a-half's worth of confection) and roll into "fat, sausage-like bees' bodies, slightly tapered at the ends."
- With a skewer or a toothpick paint chocolate stripes with the glaze--I agree with Nigella that three look best per marzipan sausage. Add two almond flakes for wings. Then, if you wish, paint two little eyes at one of the ends.
- Perch a hunnybee on each of the cakes.
- As usual, "dspn" means dessertspoon (1 dspn = 2 tsp)
- This is a very sweet and sticky cake. There. I've warned you.
- If you are lucky enough to have little ones wandering around, you can employ them into bee-making...at least rolling out the bodies.
- If you want to minimize the cute factor (why??) you can not paint the eyes...mind you, if you want to truly minimize the cute factor, you can do away with the bees entirely...but then they just become Chocolate Honey Cakes.