Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chocolate-Juniper Cake with Milk Jam Crème Fraîche

I made this a while ago because I thought spicing chocolate cake with juniper would make quite an interesting combination.
I found the recipe on "Bon Appetit"-blog, and yes, their photos are much nicer than mine, I know.

However, as predicted it tasted very unique (lots of gin/juniper flavor going on) and/but really good.

Original recipe found here!

Aside from the fact that I learned that chocolate and juniper are indeed a good match, this recipe also taught me something else, which is:


Just cut it up, throw it in the freezer. Then pull it out, roll it in sugar, place it in a hot frying pan and sear it from each side until the sugar has caramelized. 

Et voilá: dry cake turns into moist cake with a little bit of a crunch from the caramelized sugar.
It's fantastic!

I will definitely do this from now on!

Anyway, here is the recipe:

For the cake


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) juniper berries
  • 225g or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 335 or 1 2/3 cups sugar plus more for coating
  • 75g or 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 175ml or 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 165ml or 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Special equipment:
A spice mill - I just used mortar and pestel and crushed the juniper berries with some sugar


Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Coat a 33x23x6cm/13x9x2" glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Line bottom with parchment paper; spray parchment and set aside. Toast juniper berries in a small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, 2–3 minutes. Let cool. Finely grind in spice mill (or mortar and pestel)

Sift flour, 1 2/3 cups sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and ground juniper berries into a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. water in a medium bowl. 

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top.

Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill in freezer until frozen, about 2 hours. 

DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Wrap in 2 layers of plastic; keep frozen.

Unwrap cake and invert onto a work surface; discard parchment. Using a long serrated knife, trim cake to form clean edges. Cut cake in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 3-3,5cm/1 1/4-inch–wide bars.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour a layer of sugar onto a plate. Roll each bar in sugar, coating completely. Working in batches, caramelize cake in skillet, turning with tongs to brown evenly, about 30 seconds per side per batch (be careful; the sugar burns quickly). Serve warm, with Milk Jam Crème Fraîche.

For the Milk Jam Crème Fraîche


  • 475ml or 2 cups whole milk
  • 130g or 1 cup sugar
  • 240g or 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream


Bring milk and sugar to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar (take care that milk doesn’t boil over). Reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until milk is thick, turns light reddish-brown, and measures scant 1 cup, 40–45 minutes. Transfer jam to a heatproof jar; let cool. 

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill. 

Or you could also simply use sweetened condensed milk.

Whisk together 1 Tbsp. milk jam and crème fraiche in a small bowl. Add more milk jam to taste to sweeten, if desired.


As mentioned earlier, the cake turned out a little dry. Don't know if it was my fault and I baked it too long, or that's just the way this one is supposed to be...maybe in order o not fall apart when searing (?). 
But, yeah, freezing it, rolling it in sugar and searing it certainly did the trick.

This can probably be done with any other cake that's too dry, and it even gives it a little bit of a wow-factor.
I mean...fried and caramelized cake...could be worse.

On an unrelated side-note:

Wil and I spent our Sunday in the garden today and prepared it for the upcoming growing season.
Our onions, garlic and chive bed is going to be quite impressive, and the rhubarb is on it's way, as well.

And we found our first violet. Looks a little rough...but hey.

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