Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dessert in Hanmer

Leah had organised a house in Hanmer for Show weekend, and a number of us gathered there on Friday afternoon. Since it would be unthinkable to attend something like this without bringing some Edmonds to the party, I brought along a chocolate liqueur cake (p52).

This recipe is a variant on the rich chocolate cake recipe. It's a flourless cake based on eggs and ground almonds. The only difference is this one has some liqueur in it. The suggested liqueurs are chocolate, coffee or orange liqueur, but I didn't have any of these in the house. I popped around to the local bottle store, thinking to get a miniature of Kahlua. Their selection was a bit limited though, so after some hesitation, I selected a bottle of Baileys instead.

I started by separating six eggs, and melting some chocolate over a pot of water. Next, I creamed unsalted butter with brown sugar, and beat in the egg yolks and Baileys. The recipe says two teaspoons, and when you think about it, that would probably be enough if you were using Cointreau or something. Baileys doesn't have quite as strong a flavour, so I doubled the amount.

The next additions were the ground almonds and melted chocolate. I'd made a point of having the chocolate ready in advance, but this did mean that it had started to set again around the edges. A few chunks of partially-set chocolate made it difficult to combine the mixture evenly.

At this stage, I tasted the mixture and couldn't detect any hint of the Baileys. I sloshed a bit more in and hoped for the best.

Finally, I beat the egg whites to soft peaks and folded them through. I had my doubts about how successfully they would combine with the heavy chocolate and almond mixture, but actually, it folded through quite well. I was left with a comparatively light mixture to pour into the tin.

You're supposed to cook this cake for 20 minutes at 190, then for a further 30  minutes at 150 - or 'until firm'. After the 30 minutes at 150 were up, I took the cake out and found it was barely cooked on top, and certainly runny in the centre. I kept adding another five minutes, and another five - by the time I'd decided it was ok, the cake had been at 150 for around 50 minutes.

The cake had to cool in the tin, so I left it covered on the bench while I ran around throwing things into a bag for Hanmer. It still wasn't entirely cold an hour or so later when I went to leave, but I decided it would do. When I took the cake out, it was very greasy on the bottom. I blotted it with paper towels before packing it into a container to take with me.

The last step was to dust with icing sugar. In my hurry, I grabbed the wrong shaker and shook flour over part of it instead. I had to pick the cake up again and brush off the four, before returning it to the container and dusting with icing sugar.

I guess this kind of cake is not supposed to be high and rounded - instead it was a bit sunken in the middle and had a crack across it because I'd had to handle it too much. Never mind, I was willing to take the gamble that it would taste ok.

I was the last of Friday night's arrivals (another group turned up on Saturday), but was there in plenty of time to sit around with drinks and nibbles before dinner. Leah was pleased I'd brought cake, since she'd provided dinner but not dessert.

After dinner, Phil kindly cut the cake into slices of wildly inconsistent size and shape, so we all ended up with a slightly different portion - and a reason to make fun of Phil. Fortunately, the cake was a success. It was very moist and rich, with an almost fudgy texture. There were a couple of pieces left over, which stayed on the table and got chipped away at during the evening whenever anyone felt like having a little more.

In short, pretty good cake. Couldn't taste the Bailey's though - I think coffee or orange liqueur would work better, but even then, you'd probably want to adjust that to taste.

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