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Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers. It’s been several years, closer to two decades, since I worked in a professional kitchen as a pastry chef. After all those years, I still miss it. Every time I eat at a great restaurant, I wish I was in the kitchen to watch them create the magic. It is magical, but it’s also a crazy amount of work and a super-charged and stressful environment.

I left that world shortly after my first son was born (he’s in his 20s now), because it is a hard life on a young family. The hours are long and all the wrong times; nights, weekends and holidays are in high demand. To stay connected to the restaurant world, I’ve consulted on dessert menus. Creating the pastry program gives me all the joy of being a part of the action, without having to be on the line to create the food during the rush of service. The best of both worlds for me. I also stay connected by fawning over restaurant accounts on instagram. One chef I met on instagram, through a web of industry friends, is Neal Fraser. He has an acclaimed restaurant in LA called Redbird.

I just happened to be in NYC when Chef Fraser was going to be cooking, along with fellow LA chefs from The Strand House, at the James Beard House. He invited me to join them for the event (or perhaps I offered (begged him) to let me help and he graciously agreed.) Either way, I found myself in the most iconic kitchen in NYC, cooking with some of the most talented chefs of LA. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, this would be on it. Chef Fraser was in charge of dessert and together we made a chocolate fudge cake with strawberry sauce, chocolate cremeaux, candied violets, sugared pansies and a quenelle of ice cream. You can see pictures of the dinner, the dessert and meet the chefs in my instagram video and watch the James Beard Live Stream of the kitchen as we prepared the meal.

I created this abbreviated version of Chef Fraser’s dessert to share with you. He graciously shared his warm, super fudgy, chocolate cake recipe and I added a fresh strawberry salsa and lavender ice cream to it.

Strawberry Salsa | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers

Inspired by Neal Fraser from the Redbird

Neal Fraser’s Chocolate Fudge Cake (makes eight 4 oz cakes – all measurements are done by weight (even liquids), as is the way in a professional kitchen, because it makes it much easier to scale)

To make the cakes: 

Preheat oven to 325°F

Generously butter eight 4 ounce ramekins and dust with cocoa powder

Melt the butter; stir in the cocoa powder and hot water.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, soda and vanilla. Pour the melted cocoa over the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla, mixing well.

Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins, filling no more than half way.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the sides are set, the top is domed, but the center is still slightly soft. Allow to cool a couple minutes, then invert onto the plate (if you are ready to serve) or a parchment covered baking sheet. You can reheat the cakes just before you serve or leave them at room temperature.

To make the salsa:

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and allow to sit until all the sugar has dissolved. You can make this several hours ahead.

To sugar the flowers:

Gently paint the egg white onto the petals of the flower, using your finger or a clean, kitchen-only, paint brush. Dust with sugar. Allow to dry for about 2 hours.

To form the ice cream into a quenelle see my instagram video. You can set the quenelles onto a frozen pan, lined with a sheet of parchment, hours before serving, so plating is faster and the ice cream won’t melt as you assemble.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Thank you to Neal Fraser, Austin Cobb, Greg Hozinsky, Aaron RobbinsMichael Morrisette, Bill Matthews and Jenna Ritter for including me in this wonderful evening at the James Beard House!

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François
Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François
Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers

This warm, super fudgy, chocolate cake recipe is from Chef Neal Fraser and I added a fresh strawberry salsa and lavender ice cream to it. All measurements are done by weight (even liquids), as is the way in a professional kitchen, because it makes it much easier to scale.
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Servings: 8
Author: Stephani from The ZoeBakes Team

Ingredients

Cake

  • 113 g unsalted butter
  • 22 g cocoa powder
  • 113 g hot water
  • 121 g all-purpose flour
  • 200 g sugar
  • 3 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • 56 g buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract

Fresh Berry Salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) cut strawberries
  • 1 cup (123g) raspberries
  • 1/4 cup (54g) brown sugar
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp tequila optional
  • 5 large mint leaves chiffonade
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes this is optional and you can use as much or as little as you like

Lavender Ice Cream

  • 1 batch ice cream see link in blog post above to make your own
  • 2 tbsp fresh or dried edible lavender steep the flowers in the heavy cream for about 30+ minutes

Sugared Edible Flowers

  • 8-16 edible flowers*
  • 1 tsp egg white**
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

Instructions

Cakes

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter eight 4-ounce ramekins and dust with cocoa powder.
  • Melt the butter; stir in the cocoa powder and hot water.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, soda and vanilla. Pour the melted cocoa over the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla, mixing well. Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins, filling no more than half way.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the sides are set, the top is domed, but the center is still slightly soft. Allow to cool a couple minutes, then invert onto the plate (if you are ready to serve) or a parchment covered baking sheet. You can reheat the cakes just before you serve or leave them at room temperature.

Berry Salsa

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and allow to sit until all the sugar has dissolved. You can make this several hours ahead.

Sugared Flowers

  • Gently paint the egg white onto the petals of the flower, using your finger or a clean, kitchen-only, paint brush. Dust with sugar. Allow to dry for about 2 hours.
  • Serve with a scoop of ice cream or create quenelles! You can set the quenelles onto a frozen pan, lined with a sheet of parchment, hours before serving, so plating is faster and the ice cream won't melt as you assemble.

Notes

*pansies and violas grown without pesticides can often be found at co-ops and some grocery stores where you find herbs
**this will not be cooked, so you have to be okay eating raw egg, which is really fine for most people (elderly and babies should avoid) or you can use a pasteurized egg white product
warm, super fudgy, chocolate cake recipe and I added a fresh strawberry salsa and lavender ice cream to it
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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4 thoughts to “Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers”

  1. Neat looking recipe and happy belated to your son! So happy you mentioned Redbird. I had never heard of it but after visiting their website it seems like an amazing restaurant concept! The pictures of the restaurant look incredibly beautiful. I sat there thinking, “what is this place?”

    Their response:
    “Located in downtown Los Angeles, Redbird is carved into one of the city’s most historic architectural gems, inside the former rectory building of Vibiana – the cathedral-turned-event-venue also owned and operated by the Frasers. Designer Robert Weimer and Amy Knoll Fraser created a dynamic space that pays homage to the cathedral next door and the existing timeless architecture by inserting simple modern forms to complement rather than overtake the feel of the rooms.”

    Yes. That explains it. Stunning.

    1. Hello, Zoë hasn’t tried this herself, but you could experiment with it in an 8-inch pan and you will likely need to bake it for about 35 minutes or more, depending on your oven. Definitely be sure to check it for doneness frequently so it doesn’t over bake. You could also use Zoë’s chocolate hazelnut cake recipe as a reference point. Happy baking!

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