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Monday, January 15, 2007

January 14, 2007: Chocolate star anise cake with coffee caramel cream

On Mum and Carol's second visit to our place I knew there'd have to be dessert of some description: after any meal they are just as likely as I to start craving something sweet. On their last visit we introduced Bev and Carol to Koko Black, and this time I figured it was my turn to prepare something; something from our new dessert cookbook. Of course there must be chocolate involved, yet this still left 62 recipes to choose from! Emma and Michael perused my shortlist, discarded a few, and after a couple of days deliberation, I selected the chocolate star anise cake with coffee caramel cream. Bev's chocolate consumption is invariably teamed with a cup of coffee, and we share a preference for rich, creamy desserts. The presence of ground star anise piqued my interest: in recent years I've become hooked on chocolate spiked with chilli, chai, mountain pepper, and other aromatic spices.

On Saturday Michael and I had braved the city shops, armed with a Coles-Myer gift voucher, and I came away with a spring-form cake tin, but not an oven thermometer. (It seems others bought up Melbourne's entire stock for their Christmas roasts!) The tin was a breeze to use, with the cake neatly coming away from the sides and base. However, in about 10 minutes less than the recommended baking time, my cake developed a burnt layer about 1 mm thick along the base and 2-3 mm thick along the side. Even so, I would not have wished to cook the centre of the cake for any less time. Clearly I have yet to master our fan-forced oven, and I'm hoping that the acquisition of an oven thermometer might speed my progress.

Even with this minor hitch, the cake was quite a success! I was a bit concerned that the recipe didn't include a rising agent, and it was only 4-5 cm tall, yet it wasn't overly dense in texture. The cake had only a mild to medium chocolate flavour, and this allowed the star anise to come forward and add depth, rather than richness. The elevation from simple to decadent dessert was the coffee caramel (double) cream, which had just the right amount of coffee bitterness but was too sweet for my taste.

Food styling (i.e. the selection of the least-wilting sprig of mint from the bottom of the fridge) was provided by Emma.

Chocolate star anise cake with coffee caramel cream
(from tempted: 150 very wicked desserts)

200g dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
115g caster sugar
50g plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons ground star anise
50g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, and grease a 23cm round springform cake tin.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a pan of simmering water.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until thickened, about 5 minutes. Fold in the flour, star anise and almond meal, then fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Look how it sinks to the bottom in the 4th picture! Don't worry if it's all a bit runnier than a normal cake batter.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until it passes the skewer test: stick the skewer gently in the centre, if it comes out clean your cake is done! Cool it in the tin for at least 5 minutes before transferring it onto a wire rack.

Serve cold with coffee caramel cream.

To make the coffee caramel cream: Whip together 125mL double cream, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cooled espresso coffee. If you're not much of a sweet tooth, consider reducing the sugar to 1-2 tablespoons.


  1. The cake looks delish! As for the burrrning, I have a non-stick cake tin but find that lining it with baking parchment helps prevent Crusty McCrust forming. If you're in need of a thermometer and can get to Flinders Arcade (opp flinders station) try a little store inside there called Cake Deco - it's a pokey little place but they have almost everything related to baking and desserts :)

  2. I've never worked out the baking paper lining thing, for the simple and silly reason that I never observed my mum do it when she baked! Do you grease as well? Between the tin and the paper, or between the paper and the cake mixture?

    Wow, I just found the Cake Deco website. I'll fit in a visit on my Saturday morning errand run, but I'm at risk of buying much more than just a thermometer. :)