The theme for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge came at a very good time for me as I was already planning a chocolate based caked for the September meeting of the North Devon group of the Clandestine Cake Club. The theme for this meeting was 'Royal Connections' and I had chosen to try and create an orb in chocolate, much influenced by Vivienne Westwood's use of the orb as her logo and also her connections with the Sex Pistols and their rather edgy for it's time record 'God Save the Queen'.
It is one thing to dream up an idea but as with so many of my practical projects the reality of creating it soon kicks in and scares me; so my orb is rather more punky in its presentation than I had imagined but hey that fits with my theme and it all tastes the same.
The orb was made by taking one of these polycarbonate 'gift box' shapes which work well with chocolate as the surface is ideal for getting a good shiny finish to the chocolate and they are easy to unmould. I have seen these for sale in craft shops and they come in quite a range of shapes such as aeroplanes, rabbits, trains etc.
To get a whole sphere pour the tempered chocolate into one half, about two thirds full, push the two halves together and then swirl around trying to keep as little hand contact with the mould as possible.
If the mould is held for a long time in a warm hand it can push the chocolate out of temper and at this point you want the chocolate to start setting up pretty quickly. Only unmould once completely cool. I had a crack or two in some of my orbs so it took more than one go, but tiny cracks can often be ignored if you can decorate over them. The cross mounted onto the orb was run out from chocolate in a small piping bag onto wax paper with the pattern outline on a sheet of paper underneath. You can keep moving the underlying pattern across the wax/silicone paper sheet until you are happy you have enough good copies to work with.
The decoration was applied to the orb with royal icing and used some glace cherries, candied citron and sugar pearls.
I decided a ring mould was the best way to support the orb and used a fairly cheap silicone mould from a supermarket. The crown like shape was all but lost by the time I had finished as the cake did not fill the mould and the icing further obscured the shape. However, it did have an ideal narrow middle so the orb did not disappear down into the centre of the cake.
The cake itself was a basic sponge with flavourings from Grand Marnier, finely chopped orange zest, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cardamom.
The chocolate glaze recipe was taken from a new book from Daylesford Organic titled A Love for Food. I bought this in Kindle format as I am totally running out of shelf space. I am still not a great fan of Kindle books but will just have to get used to them as unlike my waistline, my house is not getting any bigger with age. This is a good store cupboard recipe as no cream is required.
So for the chocolate glaze you gently warm together :
300g good dark chocolate, 125g butter, 75g golden syrup and 60ml sunflower oil.
I then kept regularly stirring the glaze as it cooled until it was think enough to coat but not so runny as to just run off when poured. Things got pretty messy at the coating stage but a lot of kitchen paper towel and a much cursings later I had a cake more or less covered with glaze. I let this sit for a while to firm up before gently placing the orb in the middle and a few crosses around the outside.
Thankfully it arrived at the cake club in one piece.