Baked chocolate ganache with spicy hazelnuts and orange oil

Chocolate, orange and cream: some combinations are just classic. So much so that not even our playful additions – hazelnuts, coriander seeds, cardamom, salt – make a dent on this idyllic combination. For a quick and fun alternative to the spicy hazelnuts, a line of popping candy can be used instead. It’s a delight to watch people’s faces as they are taken by the surprise of little balls exploding in their mouths. If you want a restaurant-style extra, shape the chocolate into quenelles, rather than just spooning it on to the plate. The term describes the three-sided oval shape that results from smoothing a mixture between two dessertspoons which have been dipped in hot water. Scooping up, then passing the mixture between two spoons like this, scraping the sides as you do, results in something that looks like a little rugby ball. It’s a nice touch, but don’t worry if you’re not feeling cheffy: it’s certainly not essential to the dish. Either way, you’ll need to start a day ahead for the chocolate to set in the fridge. You’ll have a little of the chocolate pudding left over, which can be saved as a snack to have with coffee or served warm with some ice cream.

Ingredients

Chocolate ganache:
250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly broken into 2cm pieces
150g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 large egg, plus 3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
coarse sea salt, to serve

Spice mix:
2 tsp coriander seeds
3/4 tsp black peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
8 cardamom pods
3/4 tsp caster sugar
40g hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and roughly chopped

Crème fraîche:
300g crème fraîche
21/2 tsp icing sugar, sifted

Orange oil:
finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp - olive oil

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5.

2. Place the chocolate and butter for the ganache in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan half full of simmering water: take care that the water is not touching the base of the bowl. Keep on the heat for about 5 minutes, stirring and folding the mixture every now and then, until the chocolate is melted and shiny. Remove from the heat and set aside until completely cool.

3. Place the egg, egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer bowl and whisk for 5–6 minutes, until thick, light and foamy. In stages, carefully fold the egg into the chocolate by hand, taking care not to overwork the mixture, then transfer to a lightly greased and parchment-lined loaf tin, measuring about 22cm × 8cm. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the surface is opaque but the middle has a slight wobble. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight. You don’t want it to be too firm when serving, so remove it from the fridge 2 hours before serving.

4. To make the spice mix, place the coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom pods in a frying pan and toast for 2–3 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar and blitz until completely fine. Transfer to a medium bowl, mix in the sugar and hazelnuts and set aside.

5. Mix together the crème fraîche and icing sugar and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

6. To make the orange oil, mix together the orange zest and olive oil and set aside.

7. To serve, arrange the hazelnut spice mix in a straight line down the middle of eight plates. Scoop a dessertspoon-size portion of chocolate on to each plate (dipping the spoon in hot water will help keep things neat) and place on an angle across the nuts. Place a spoonful of crème fraîche next to the chocolate and drizzle the orange oil on top. Finish with a tiny pinch of salt and serve at once.