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 (yesterday was his 20th birthday), 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, all of which you can watch me make Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers in my instagram video.

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 4oz cakes – all measurements done by weight (even liquids), as is the way in a professional kitchen, because it makes it much easier to scale)

113g unsalted butter

22g cocoa powder

113g hot water

121g all-purpose flour

200g sugar

3g (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda

2g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt

56g buttermilk

1 large egg

3g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract (make your own)

Zoë’s 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 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon tequila (optional)

5 large mint leaves, chiffonade (see my instagram video for instructions)

1/8-1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes (this is optional and you can use as much or as little as you like)

Lavender Ice Cream – use whatever flavor makes you happy

1 batch ice cream (make your own)

2 tablespoons fresh or dried edible lavender (steep the flowers in the heavy cream for about 30+ minutes)

Sugared Edible Flowers

8-16 edible flowers (pansies and violas grown without pesticides can often be found at co-ops and some grocery stores where you find herbs)

1 teaspoon egg white (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)

1/4 cup white sugar

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

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers
 
Ingredients
  • For Cake:
  • 113g unsalted butter
  • 22g cocoa powder
  • 113g hot water
  • 121g all-purpose flour
  • 200g sugar
  • 3g (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 2g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 56g buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract (make your own)
  • For Fresh Berry Salsa:
  • 1½ cups (200g) cut strawberries
  • 1 cup (123g) raspberries
  • ¼ cup (54g) brown sugar
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tequila (optional)
  • 5 large mint leaves, chiffonade
  • ⅛-1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes (this is optional and you can use as much or as little as you like)
  • For Lavender Ice Cream:
  • 1 batch ice cream (see link in blog post above to make your own)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried edible lavender (steep the flowers in the heavy cream for about 30+ minutes)
  • For Sugared Edible Flowers:
  • 8-16 edible flowers*
  • 1 teaspoon egg white**
  • ¼ cup white sugar
Instructions
  1. To make the cakes: Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter eight 4-ounce ramekins and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Melt the butter; stir in the cocoa powder and hot water.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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