Eggplant and chocolate? Believe it or not, is decadently good!

Vanilla, Caramel and Chocolate?

If you are a Nespresso fan, then you will be delighted to know that they have decided to release the unlimited flavoured coffees Vanilio, Ciocattino and Caramelio as part of the permanent Grand Cru range. Nespresso has invited me to partake the great #FlavourDebate and as the vice captain of Team Chocolate, it is my job to seduce you and make you succumb to the most decadent and sinful chocolate creation that no one could resist.

Three bloggers were asked to come up with a dish by incorporating the Nespresso flavoured coffees into the recipe. And since I am teaming up with Italian Chef Alessandro Pavoni on the chocolate team, so it makes sense for me to do an Italian dessert. I am always up for a good challenge, with the chocolate flavoured Ciocattino coffee, here I bring forth and present you a somewhat unusual but sheer indulgence chocolate heaven... wait for it....

an eggplant chocolate cake.

Eggplant, in a cake? You probably thinking I am having a laugh by putting eggplant into a chocolate cake. Well believe it or not, this is actually an Italian classic. The original recipe was traced back to Franciscan monks, more than 800 years ago. The classic Melanzane al Cioccolato recipe usually consists of thin slices of eggplant being pan fried then dipped in cinnamon sugar, layered with chocolate, orange peel and ricotta then topped with almond flakes on top. I did the classic recipe once and found it a little heavy with all the cheese and chocolate, and can be a little greasy from all the frying. Hence, I decided to adapt the recipe, gave it a modern take and turned it into a tart with a short crust pastry, not to mention is a lot easier to make.

And how does it taste? Well, it is very similar to a flourless chocolate cake, rich, dense, fudge and  yes, "moist". I love the crumbly texture of the short crust with the fudgy chocolate and eggplant filling, and you will be surprised how the eggplant actually doesn't lend much flavour to the dessert but helps to keep the tart - well, "moist".

I would like you to give this recipe a try, serve the tart to friends and colleagues and let them guess what the "secret ingredient" inside it. Just wait for the "ooh and ahh..." once they found out and everyone thinks you are a genius!

Mission complete!

Melanzane al Cioccolato

400g (about 2) eggplants
300g dark chocolates
3 large eggs
50g cocoa powder
60g almond meal
60g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 Nespresso ciocattino capsules
100g almond flakes, toasted
icing sugar, for dusting

Sweet pastry
125g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
30g caster sugar
200g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
4 tbsp chilled water

1. To make the sweet pastry, put all ingredients except the water into a food processor, pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, keep pulsing until it comes together and forms a rough dough. Tip it out onto a floured surface, gently gather all the lumps together to form a smooth dough, roll into a ball then flatter into a disk about 2cm thick. Wrap it up in cling film and place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

2. Remove the dough from fridge, roll the dough on a floured surface until it is wide enough to cover a rectangular tart tin, about 40cm x 15cm, and around 3-4mm thickness. Line the tart tin with the pastry, gentle push the pastry into the corners of the tin, cut the excess pastry hanging on top.

3. Preheat oven to 200C, line pastry with baking paper, then fill it with pastry weights (or dried beans). Bake the pastry in oven for 25 minutes the remove it from oven. Let it rest for 10 minutes before removing the pastry weights and baking paper, set aside to cool completely.

5. To make the filling, use a fork and prick through the skin of eggplants all over, place them in a mixing bowl then cover in cling film. Place the bowl in microwave and cook it for 8 minutes or until soft. Remove from the microwave, be very care and peel the skin off. Place the eggplants in a food processor or stick blender and blend to a puree.

6. Put chocolate in a mixing bowl, place it in microwave and cook for 30 seconds. Take it out, stir with a clean, dry spoon, then put the bowl back in microwave and cook for another 30 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times until the chocolate has completely melted.

7. Add sugar to chocolate and stir well, then add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition until fully incorporated.

8. Brew a cup of espresso using 1 Ciocattino capsule. Once cool enough, add it to the mixture and stir well. Pierce open the second Ciocattino capsule, and sprinkle the granule into the mixture, stir until well combined. Finally, add eggplant puree, almond meal and baking powder, fold gently until well combined.

9. Reheat the oven to 180C. Pour mixture into the tart shell, bake the tart in oven for 30-35 minutes. It should be firm on sides and just set in centre. Remove from oven and let it set for couple of hours. Remove from tart tin and set aside until it is completely cool. Sprinkle almond flakes all over and dust liberally with icing sugar.

Don't forget to join the Great #FlavourDebate and win yoursel some very cool Nespresso products up to $6,000!