[Mandarin chocolate cake]

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When I was younger – and by younger I mean a lot more younger -, my father who worked at home used to take me to Cannes where we would go to Rohr, a posh salon de thé for tea.He always had orangettes: candied orange peels dipped in bitter chocolate.
That was the kind of love me, feed me and hug me moments; except that I secretly loathed orangettes.
C’est amer et dégoutant! [it’s bitter and horrid], I would think hard (penser fort).

From then, I happily declined every chocolate/citrus treat I have been offered.
This combination is just not appealing to me. Well, I should say was, because I’m now happily and officially converted.

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Gâteau au chocolat et à la mandarine
adapted from Bill Granger’s open kitchen

This cake combines the deep flavour of dark chocolate and the subtle sweetness of mandarin.
I think it works particularly well because mandarin is both fragrant and sweet; definitely not too sharp and it gives a satisfying intensity to the flourless chocolate base.

Serve the cake with mandarin slices to enhance the citrus taste and provide lovely juices.

Mandarin chocolate cake

serves 8-10

250g quality dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter, diced
6 eggs, separated
1tbsp mandarin zest
115g caster sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
25g almond meal
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 23cm spring form pan with baking paper.
Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until just melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the egg yolk, mandarin zest and sugar in a bowl and mix until combined.
Gradually add the melted chocolate-butter, stirring.
Mix in the flour, almond meal and salt.

In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the chocolate mixture until barely combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. The cake might look wet in the centre, but don’t worry, it’ll firm up while cooling.
Allow to cool completely in the tin and transfer to a serving platter.
Serve with mandarin slices.