|Infused with five-spice powder; topped with star anise|
Who can resist baking some decadent chocolate cakes on Valentine’s day? Since there is no flour of any kind used, the cakes are gluten free. Butter is called for to dust the baking pan and it is not included in the batter. The primary ingredients are chocolate and mascarpone cheese. They turned out better than I’ve expected. There is always a risk stepping into an unknown territory. There was the potential double whammy in the making with this bake: chocolate cake without flour and the use of five-spice powder? I certainly had my share of doubts.
Five-spice powder is a mixture of clove, fennel seed, ground cinnamon, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns, typically used in Chinese cooking. I was looking for something to bake for the Chinese New Year, which is coming soon, within a week. I came across this recipe in Martin Yan’s China. The chef, not a pastry chef if I may say, discovered this chocolate delight in one of the swanky restaurants in Shanghai. He injected his personal touch with the addition of five-spice powder. Who would have thought of that? I adapted this recipe to bake the cakes in muffin pans that most home bakers would have in their kitchens. Inverted the finished cakes on a plate, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and decorated with star anise on top, a special-occasion chocolate dessert was created in time for Valentine’s Day to help spice up the passion for life and good eats!
Note–The cake tasted even better the next day, more like chocolate fudge in texture, and the chocolate flavor intensified overnight. The five spice was barely noticeable except for the aromatic star anise laying on top that refused to be ignored. This cake is fun and whimsical to make; your heart skips a beat just looking at it.