Most people have never had aubergines in a sweet dish, and we have to admit that before preparing this cake we were a bit skeptical.
Aubergines are extremely versatile, though, and their peculiar taste and consistency is perfect to alleviate the bitterness of dark chocolate. The result is a smooth, moist cake that you can also serve cold, cut into cubes.
This cake is typical of Campania, a region in the South of Italy, and comes specifically from a scenic part of the shoreline known as Costiera Amalfitana. Let this original dessert transport you to the lush cliffs between Napoli and Amalfi.
Serves: 6 (fills a Ø24 cm cake mould)| Preparation time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 1 h
- Aubergines: 1 kg
- 70% Dark chocolate: 200 g
- Brown sugar: 100 g
- Almond flakes or walnuts: 180 g
- Candied or fresh orange: 80 g
- Milk: 60 ml
- All-purpose flour: 4 tbsp
- Cocoa powder, unsweetened: a teaspoon
- Cinnamon powder: a pinch
- (optional) Chili powder: a pinch
- Lemon zest: 1
- Salt: a pinch
- Peanut oil (for deep-frying)
Peel the aubergines and cut them into slices half a centimeter thick. Layer the aubergine slices in a colander, sprinkling them with salt. Leave them aside for ten minutes: the salt will help them dry up and the excess water will drip away.
Heat up some peanut oil in a large frying pan. Rinse the aubergine slices to eliminate the salt, and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen cloth. Lightly flour the slices on both sides and drop them in the oil; turn them to make sure they are completely fried. Remove the aubergines from the oil and place them on a plate lined with kitchen paper: it’s important to ensure that any excess oil is absorbed by the paper. Whilst the aubergine slices are still lukewarm, coat them in a mixture of cocoa and cinnamon powder. Set them aside.
Prepare the chocolate cream: heat up the milk in a saucepan, then add the caster sugar and the dark chocolate, in pieces. Let the chocolate melt, stirring the mixture until it becomes uniform in texture. If it is a bit too liquid, you can just add some flour; if instead it’s too thick, you can try pouring in some more milk. Once the cream has reached a medium thick consistency, switch off the stove and leave it to cool.
Pre-heat the oven to 100 C.
Cover a baking dish or a cake pan with baking paper. Spread some chocolate cream on top of the baking paper, then form a layer of aubergine slices and cover it with another layer of cream. Sprinkle some almond flakes, candied orange and lemon zest on the chocolate cream, then create another layer of aubergines and spread some chocolate cream on top of it. Proceed in the same way, alternating fried aubergine slices and cream, until you finish your ingredients. Top the cake with a generous spread of chocolate cream and garnish it with more almond flakes and candied orange.
Bake the aubergine chocolate cake for 10 minutes to 100 C.
You can either serve this cake hot, straight out of the oven, or cut it into cubes and let it cool down completely.
Tip: Not a fan of almond flakes? Try chopped walnuts or pine nuts instead. You can also swap the candied orange for any other candied fruit of your choice.