Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.
~Richard Brinsley Sheridan
As I was coming to the end of my morning jog recently, I came across two butterflies 'dancing' around each other in mid-air. They were black butterflies, with beautiful purple spots on their wings, and the unusual sight of their interaction literally stopped me in my tracks. I observed them for 15 minutes, keeping still as they flew around me whilst also flying in circles around each other. I took it to be some sort of courtship or mating ritual, definitely on a more complex plane than The Bachelor or Bachelorette. It was quite fascinating, I had never seen anything like it, especially up so close except on National Geographic Channel. I had no clue why those butterflies were flying around me as if they had given me their explicit approval to become a voyeur to their activity.
No, they didn't end up mating in front of my eyes, if that's what you're wondering. I wasn't sure how long I stood statue-like on that quiet pavement, it felt longer but I'm estimating it to be around 15 minutes or so. Eventually a car approached and the butterflies flew away across the road to continue their dervish-like fun. And I went along on my way home, thinking about that oddity.. no, that privilege. I was also unable to shake off the image of those striking purple spots. Oh dear, you're about to find out that today's recipe is inspired by a pair of frisky butterflies!
In any case, I had been thinking about what to make for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge. Our host, Chele of Chocolate Teapot announced that September is the challenge's 1st anniversary and we are to make a chocolate masterpiece fit to serve at a virtual birthday party. So here's the thing - I could not make butterflies to save my life, but hey, I could do purple. Purple dumplings or onde-onde, as they are called here. The full-scale cake is called Marie Chocolate Fudge Cake with Purple Sweet Potato and Nutella Onde-Onde. As you can see, the name spells out its very components.
This is a two-layered cake, the bottom one made of Marie cookies or biscuits cocooned within a creamy chocolate fudge layer. In Brunei, this cake is popularly known as Batik Cake because when it is sliced, the pattern of the biscuits in the slices resembles traditional batik print on cloths.
The other component is sweet potato onde-onde, a popular bite-sized dessert in Southeast Asia. I made my dumpling dough out of purple sweet potato and glutinous rice flour, and I filled the onde-onde with what else, Nutella! Normally, these dumplings are coated in freshly grated coconut flesh but if that's not available or like me, you cannot be a**ed to get the grater out, dessicated coconut is an acceptable substitute. Just steam it in a muslin pouch and add a pinch of salt to taste.
Of course, these two things - Batik Cake and Onde-Onde are never eaten together as far as I know. I decided to couple them up in this cake because:
1. I like the idea of rows of purple balls atop a dark, crunchy malt cake. Thank you, butterflies!
2. This cake is full of chocolate flavors. And we are celebrating a year of fantastic chocolate creations, are we not?
3. It's textural heaven in one bite. Chewy dumplings vs. gooey Nutella vs. grainy coconut vs. creamy fudge batter vs. crunchy biscuits. If it was possible to pluck even more textures out of the air, I probably would.
4. I don't do conventional.
Need I tell you how this tasted? Naah, why not try making it and see for yourself. Even if you just make one of the layers, it will be well worth your time.
The video below is linked to my affinity for all things non-conventional. In it, one of my favorite artists, Rags KK, speaks below about the importance of teaching kids about perspectives from a very young age since it cultivates creativity and more importantly, empathy. This is only a 4 minute talk but as usual, he is entertaining and inspiring. If you have kids, do yourself (and your community) a favor and click the play button below.
Marie Chocolate Fudge Cake with Purple Sweet Potato and Nutella Onde-Onde
Marie Chocolate Fudge Cake
100g Milo powder (or any sweet chocolate malt powder)
25g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
200ml sweetened condensed milk
90g white granulated sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
250g Marie biscuits (or graham crackers), broken into quarters
1. Grease and line a 23cm x 9cm x 7cm deep loaf tin (or other loaf tin with a capacity of at least 5 cups or 1.25L) with baking paper, extending paper 2-3cm above edge of tin.
2. In a deep saucepan, slowly add boiling water to Milo and cocoa, stirring vigorously until it is smooth. Add butter, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and eggs to the mixture.
3. Place the saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring all the time with a whisk or a spoon, until you feel the bottom start to thicken, about 5 minutes.
4. Turn heat down to low, and continue to cook, stirring without stopping, for about another 20 minutes until a thick custard forms.
(Tip: It may look like the custard will never thicken, and when it already has, you may feel like it has already thickened too much. I’ve found that the best way to gauge is when the mixture is reduced to about half of its original amount, and when stirring, you can actually see the mixture coagulate together, scraping off the sides of the pan perfectly; ie. you don’t see any liquid remaining at the sides of the pan.)
5. Turn off the heat, and stir in the quartered biscuits. Mix until all the biscuits are coated with the custard.
6. Transfer mixture to the prepared tin. Press down firmly so there are no air pockets in the mixture. Fold the paper extensions over the top and press down with the back of a spoon to even the surface. Then let cool to the touch. Cover with cling film, and refrigerate overnight.
7. When the cake is firm, use the paper extension as handle to pull the cake out of the tin. You can slice and serve this chilled on its own or use it as a base for the onde-onde layer (below).
Purple Sweet Potato Onde-Onde with Nutella Filling
Makes: 18 balls
180g purple sweet potato, peeled and cubed
50g glutinous rice flour
20g tapioca or corn flour
30-45ml water, depending on the dough
4-5 tablespoons Nutella
1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
1. Toast or dry fry dessicated coconut until lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Remove and place in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
2. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes until soft and mashable. Remove and place steamed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher. Add glutinous rice flour, corn flour and sugar. Add water slowly and knead with your fingers until a soft pliable dough forms.
3. Scoop out one tablespoonful of dough and form into balls. Flatten a ball of dough in the palm of your hand into flat disks of about 2-inch diameter. Place a heaped 1/4 teaspoon of Nutella in the center. Gather up the sides and seal well to form a ball of about 1-inch diameter. Roll between your palms carefully until ball of dough is smooth. (Tip: Moisten your palms with a bit of water in between rolling the balls, it makes it easier to handle the dough). Place filled ball on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
4. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. Gently drop in filled onde-onde. Reduce heat to medium and allow onde-onde to cook until they float to the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Remove with a slotted spoon and tap spoon on a paper towel each time to drain excess water. 6. To eat onde-onde as is, drop balls into toasted coconut one at a time to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature. For use as cake topping, do not coat in coconut just yet (see below).
1. Arrange the warm onde onde balls snugly on top of the chilled cake while it is still in the loaf pan. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top of the balls, coating completely.
2. Remove from the pan carefully by pulling on the baking paper, making sure not to dislodge the sweet potato balls. Slice into 1-inch slices (the diameter of one row of balls) and serve immediately. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Desserts, Chocolate, purple sweet potato