Moist chocolate mini-cakes spiced with ground fennel seeds and topped with knobs of cream cheese.
The recipe doubles beautifully to make single or double-layered cakes with a rich & moist crumb. If you make layer cakes then it won't be necessary to place the cake tins in water-baths. They can be placed directly on oven racks. Two layers of this cake with an old-fashioned chocolate butter-cream or cream-cheese frosting makes a gorgeous birthday treat!
The ground fennel is optional and can easily be done away with. I usually like to dry-roast whole fennel seeds before grinding them to fine powder.
Although these cakelets never last more than a couple of hours right out of the oven, they do get better if rested in the refrigerator for a few hours. —Amrita
Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C and grease 4-5 small ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking tray (or cake tins). Fill the tray/tins with boiling water till the water level is about 1/4-inch high.
In a medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, almonds, fennel, baking powder and salt. Mix them well with a fork.
In a bigger bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, yogurt and vanilla till the sugar dissolves.
Add the flour mix into the egg mixture (dry into wet) and fold in till just combined. Do not overwork the batter.
Fill the ramekins about 2/3rds of the way (the batter will rise) and bake for 35-45 minutes or till toothpicks inserted into the centers come out very slightly greasy (not coated in wet batter). I usually start checking after the cakes have baked for 30 minutes.
Cool the cakes in the ramekins for 15 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.
Top each mini-cake with large knobs, or classier quenelles, of cream cheese.