I first came across this recipe in Elinor Klivan's cookbook Chocolate Cakes and really liked the sound of it. Chocolate and 5-spice seem like a great combination for many purposes, and I'm sure I will try other opportunities to combine them, in cookies for example. But also in a smooth chocolate tart, or even by adding a bit of dark chocolate to a spiced savory sauce. I love how finding one unique recipe can start ideas flowing for lots of different types of dishes and experiments in the future.
I happen to love chiffon cakes anyway - to me they are a quintessential cake: light and spongey texture, but rich and flavorful. They are almost infinitely adaptable to different flavors from citrus or coffee to chocolate or nuts. They don't need to be frosted, but have a high, attractive shape perfect for parties and buffets. A simple glaze brings out even more taste punch and gives them a professional, finish look with very little effort.
I loved the concept of putting an exotic spice blend in a fluffy chocolate cake. The original recipe called for finely chopped chocolate to be mixed into the batter, but I didn't like the idea of pieces interfering with the texture, so instead I melted the chocolate and mixed it into the batter to give it more chocolately richness. You can try it either way. The 5-spice definitely lends a different taste profile to the cake, that might be unpleasant if you weren't expecting it, but if you know what it is, I think it's really delightful. And of course, anything covered in ganache is going to be good. The original also called for a sprinkling of spice across the glaze, which would be attractive, but I was unsure how much extra spice flavor I wanted, so I skipped it. Garnishing with a couple of cinnamon sticks or chocolate curls would be a nice touch for a more sophisticated presentation.