Aren’t Clementines supposed to be out of season? My whole life, I have spent Christmases peeling plump wreaths of sweet orange-ness. It is now the end of March, and I feel like a chipmunk-cheeked, cake-baking and -eating fraud.
Wikipedia tells me that the ones I used to make this cake were birthed on the cusp of the season. Spongey, aromatic cake robed in chocolate silk–what a way to go out with a bang.
I didn’t enjoy every minute of making this cake, however. In fact, I almost quit. Yikes, this is starting to sound like whenever I exercise. Or do laundry.
I experience displeasure, I think, because the end doesn’t necessarily seem linear. In fact, the path we take to get there impresses with indirection. Even if those are, at times, the best kind of paths. Shhh.
To begin to make Clementine Cake, for example, one must first boil clementines. For hours. This is not an initiation prank. [Admittedly, I did laundry over the course of this portion of the recipe, which might explain any and all displacement of negative emotion.]
The air was warm orange juice, and the next step: squashing the boiled rounds to remove any seedlings. Then, puree. Peel, pith, fruit. All of it is ground to coral mush. It doesn’t make sense.
We whisk in too many eggs and almond meal. Pour into a well-greased square, and await the poofs of citrus air from the oven. At some point between the delicate rise of the batter with heat and the oozy gloss of chocolate glaze, it pieces together.
Sometimes, timing is irrelevant. The point is where you are now. The getting there got you here. And it wasn’t so bad, now that you’ve arrived (looking back).
In fact, there is unseasonably clementine-d cake waiting for you, if you have a couple hours. Free of gluten. Softer than the lips of someone you’d like to love. Cocoa robes. Raw honey sheen. Cubes of chocolate-draped, citric fluff.
Who says it’s boring to be square.
One Year: Muenster Quesadillas with Onion Jam and Smoked Paprika
Two Years: Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years: Prune, Pistachio, and Dark Chocolate Muffins
Four Years: Goat Cheese-Garlic Toasts with Prosciutto, Arugula, and Truffle Honey
Clementine Snack Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from The New York Times
Makes one square cake
7 medium clementines
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups almond flour or very finely ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 tsp raw honey
Place whole unpeeled clementines in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, adding more water as needed. Remove clementines with a slotted spoon and, once cool enough to handle, halve and remove any seeds or other hard bits. Purée in a food processor or blender and set aside. (May be done up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8x2 square pan, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar, salt and clementine purée. Add the almond flour and baking powder and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden brown and starting to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 minutes. Transfer to wire rack set over baking sheet. After 10 minutes, run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake; remove cake from pan. Return cake to wire rack to cool completely.
Heat a pan of water until simmering. Place all ingredients in a slightly smaller metal or glass mixing bowl and set over the pan. Stir gently with a spatula until nearly all the chocolate has melted, then remove bowl from heat and set aside to finish melting, stirring occasionally until perfectly smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes. Pour glaze onto center of the cake’s top and let it run down the sides. Gently tap the cooling rack up and down so the glaze coats the entire cake. Let set for at least an hour before serving.