Orange, Almond, Ginger and Bitter Chocolate Cake
There is a real festive feel to this cake and I think it is a good alternative for those who don't like Christmas cake
For the cake:
200g slightly salted butter, softened
115g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla essence
Grated zest of 3 oranges
Juice of ½ orange
75g medium-ground polenta
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cream of tartar
50g candied orange peel, chopped
60g ginger, preserved in syrup, roughly chopped
165g Peruvian Chulucanas 70 dark chocolate, roughly chopped
For the syrup:
Juice of 2 oranges
2½ tbsp ginger syrup (from the preserved ginger)
¼ vanilla pod
Equipment: 28cm cake tin (preferably with sloping sides)
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Lightly grease the cake tin and line with baking paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Blend in the ground almonds and vanilla essence, followed by the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each one. Mix in the orange zest and juice, then fold in the polenta flour, baking powder and cream of tartar. Finally, mix in the candied peel, preserved ginger and cacao, keeping back a little of all three to decorate.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and sprinkle over the pieces of reserved candied peel, preserved ginger and cacao. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then turn out onto a serving plate.
Prepare the syrup by placing the orange juice, ginger syrup and vanilla pod in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cook until reduced to about 65ml liquid. While still hot, brush the syrup all over the cake, using a pastry brush. Allow to the syrup glaze to cool completely before serving. You could cover it with candied or fresh kumquats to dress it up. This cake will keep well for just over a week, if kept in a cool place in an airtight container.
Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine
I usually made this super sexy terrine for Christmas lunch when I lived in Venezuela, since it always seemed too hot for traditional British Christmas Pudding.
I made it with the Venezuelan castaño which are very similar to chestnuts. When Europeans first arrived in South America, they gave names to trees and fruits that resembled their native ones back home. So the Venezuelan castaño became the equivalent of the chestnut. It is a football-sized fruit, with a case that divides in three and has scores of nuts inside. These nuts are twice the size of European chestnuts.
250g Peruvian Chulucanas 70 dark chocolate, roughly chopped
40g unsalted butter
450g unsweetened chestnut puree
100g unrefined icing sugar
2 tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla essence
100 ml double cream
To serve, optional:
A few raisins soaked in brandy
Fresh red berries
Equipment: 18 cm x 10 cm loaf tin
Lightly grease and line the loaf tin with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Set aside.
Beat the chestnut purée, icing sugar, Cognac and vanilla essence together in a large bowl until well blended and smooth.
Beat in the melted chocolate and butter until well combined.
Add the cream and continue beating until evenly mixed through.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the surface.
Place in the fridge to chill for 2–3 hours, or until firmed up.
Turn the terrine out onto a serving plate. Slice thinly and serve topped with whipped cream, and a scattering of raisins soaked in cognac or some beautiful fresh red berries.
Willie's Chocolate Classics
A Classic Chocolate Mousse In A Bitter Chocolate Case
This is one of my dinner-party favourites. The chocolate case adds a bit of flair to the occasion and is surprisingly easy to do.
550g Peruvian Chulucanas 70 dark chocolate, roughly chopped
6 eggs, separated
80g caster sugar
450ml lightly whipped double cream
Equipment: 25 cm tart or shallow cake tin
Lightly oil the tart or cake tin, then take a piece of baking paper, at least 45 x 45cm, and press it into the tin so it sticks firmly to the base and sides and comes up a little above the rim of the tin.
Melt 250g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Pour into the lined tin and spread evenly, with a flexible spatula, over the bottom and up the sides. Chill in the fridge.
Melt the remaining 300g of chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until stiff.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and stir into the melted chocolate. Fold in the lightly whipped cream, then fold in the egg whites.
Finishing it off:
Tip the mixture into the prepared chocolate case and place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Carefully lift out of the tin and peel the baking paper off the sides. Use a fish slice or spatula to lift the baking paper on the base and place on a serving plate.
Keep chilled until ready to eat and serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche and maybe some fresh red berries
Peach, Chocolate and Almond Galette
Galettes are one of the oldest forms of cake, dating back centuries. Traditionally, they are flat, round and crusty and can be sweet or savoury. This modern chocolate take on it, makes one tempting dessert.
100g Peruvian Chulucanas 70 dark chocolate, roughly chopped
20g cocoa powder
130g plain flour
120g light muscovado sugar
180g slightly salted butter
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
90g ground almonds
3 tbsp dark rum
For the filling
40g granulated sugar
4 large peaches, ripe but firm
4 tbsp unrefined icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g mascarpone cheese
Equipment: 20 cm spring form cake tin; piping bag with 2 cm nozzle (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line the base and sides of the cake tin with baking paper.
Place the granulated sugar and water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over a moderate heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Plunge each peach into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then remove and carefully peel away and discard the skin.
Cut each peach in half, remove and discard the stone, then add to the pan of sugar syrup.
Cover, bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat and cook for 1–2 minutes.
Carefully lift out the peach halves and place in a single layer on a large plate or in a shallow dish. Reduce the remaining syrup to about 2–3 tablespoons, pour over the peaches and leave to cool. When cool, slice each half-peach into three. Set aside.
Start mixing the cake, by melting the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Sift the cocoa powder with the flour into a bowl and set aside.
Cream the muscovado sugar and butter until light and fluffy in another bowl, then stir in the melted chocolate. Stir in half the beaten eggs, followed by 2–3 tablespoons of the flour and cocoa mixture. Stir in the remaining egg, then blend in the remaining flour and cocoa mixture, the ground almonds and the rum until evenly mixed.
Finish off the filling:
Mix the icing sugar and vanilla essence into the mascarpone cheese until well combined. Gently fold in the peach slices, making sure not to break them up.
Put it all together:
Spoon or pipe just over half of the chocolate cake mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared tin, then spoon or pipe a layer over the sides of the tin. Spoon the mascarpone and peach filling on top of the cake mixture, then spoon or pipe the remainder of the cake mixture over the filling to completely cover it.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out and serving.
This is a great recipe to use as a way of exploring the world of chocolate. You can substitute any top quality dark chocolate, from anywhere in the world, for the Peruvian Chulucanas. So experiment and have fun following this fabulous flavour trail.
140g caster sugar
400g Peruvian Chulucanas 70 dark chocolate, roughly
Place the sugar and the water in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently simmer for 1–2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the chocolate until melted.
Chill the mixture, then churn and freeze in an ice-cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions. Place in the freezer to firm up before serving. If you don't have an ice-cream maker, simply tip the mixture into a bowl and place in the freezer for 1–2 hours, or until it starts to freeze around the edges. Remove from the freezer, stir well, then return the freezer for a further 2 hours. Remove, stir again and place back in the freezer. Repeat this process once more. Finally, return to the freezer and leave until firm. Transfer to a sealable container for longer-term storage.
Serve on its own or with fresh strawberries or raspberries
Variation: Add 200ml strained and sweetened blackcurrant purée and 3 tablespoons crème de cassis to the mixture before chilling and follow the same method.