One evening many months ago, as I was enjoying savory risotto baked in a scallop shell, I wondered – has anyone ever baked dessert in a scallop shell? I was instantly struck with the desire to try, but I wasn’t sure how to execute such a thing. I looked online. I googled “dessert baked in scallop shell” with no luck at all. Thereafter I searched high and low for some kind of direction, or at least an indication that someone else had tried this idea and it had worked.
It wasn’t until I came across the recipe for gâteau au chocolat (chocolate cake) with sea salt, that I had the notion to try again. Once more I googled, I searched. Still nothing! I finally reasoned that the scallop shell was nothing more than nature’s ceramic dish and theoretically, it should work.
And you know what? It did.
I can’t account for other batters, but this nearly flourless cake baked up perfectly in about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. The cake recipe is by French Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte who is owner of the fashionable Le Chateaubriand in Paris. He is most well known for his unconventional food pairings. Sea salt and olive oil may seem strange company for chocolate cake, but after one bite I’m willing to bet you’ll be hooked. It is delicious!
I made a small addition to this recipe; a rich, 5 minute chocolate sauce to spoon over the cakes. It keeps the cake moist and adds extra richness that a small dessert can afford.
Use good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over the cakes. The best variety for sweets will have bright, fruity notes.
The shells will need to be balanced on a bed of sea salt while baking so the cakes don’t tip over at the heavy end. I also like to serve them this way on a pretty plate. I think these would be so much fun at a beach-themed party or mermaid birthday – or even at the end of a fancy dinner. They are most certainly elegant and a lot of fun make.
Chocolate Cake with Sea Salt & Olive Oil on the Half Shell
Serves approximately 14-18 [click to print]
7oz. dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (14 tbsp. or 1 3/4 US sticks)
4 medium eggs
3/4 cups granulated sugar
Scant 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I measured 1/2 cup flour and remove 1 tbsp.)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse and dry scallop shells. Brush the entire bowl of each shell with olive oil; set aside. Place mounds of sea salt, widely spaced, on a large jelly roll pan. 5-6 shells can fit on a large jelly roll pan. Set aside.
Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add butter and stir until butter is melted and well combined with the chocolate. Remove bowl from simmering water and let stand until later needed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar
together and mix on high speed until mixture turns pale and doubles in
volume. Decrease mixer speed and add the flour a little at a time, then
the baking powder. While mixer is running, pour the chocolate mixture
in a thin stream into the egg and sugar mixture. Mix until well blended.
Fill each shell with 1/4 cup of batter. If your shells are smaller than 5″, just be sure they are no more than 2/3 full. Balance shells on the mounds of sea salt in the jelly roll pan, making sure each one is flat to ensure they don’t bake lop-sided.
Bake for 11-15 minutes. When cakes are done, they will form a brownie-like crust on top and a toothpick tester should come out clean.
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half and half
3 tbsp sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz. dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, stir together cream, half and half, sugar
and butter. Place pan over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar and melt butter. When sugar and butter has melted, add
chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Add vanilla extract and whisk again.
Remove from heat. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes and then
(This is a good all-purpose chocolate sauce and can be stored in refrigerator for up to two weeks.)
1/8-1/4 cup white ready made fondant (you’ll need no more than 1/4 cup)
White pearlescent luster dust
Pinch off small pieces of white fondant and roll each piece into a small pearl-sized ball between hands. Brush candy pearl with luster dust.
Spoon a small amount of chocolate sauce over each cake, smoothing it to the edges with the back of a spoon. Lightly sprinkle cakes with sea salt (don’t use a heavy hand with this if using coarse salt). Drizzle cakes with olive oil. Add candy pearl and serve to delighted guests.
If you want to bake the cake in a normal cake pan, pour batter in a 9″ round tin and bake at 400 degreesF. for 30-40 minutes.
The original recipe can be found in the cookbook Nobody does it Better: Why French Home Cooking is still the Best in the World.