As part of the review process for Crazy Water Pickled Lemons I felt I needed to make one of the recipes. No surprise that I chose a chocolate cake – a hazelnut and sherry one.
This is how I did it:
- Melted 150g dark chocolate (Green & Black’s 72% cook’s chocolate) in a pan over a very low heat with 75g unsalted butter and 125ml sherry (I used a sweet sherry as that’s all I had, but recipe called for dry fino).
- Stirred until all incorporated and smooth then left to cool for a bit.
- Toasted 100g shelled hazelnuts under the grill for about 5 minutes. Left to cool slightly, then rubbed of their skins with my hands and chopped them roughly.
- Weighed out and sifted 2oz plain flour, 2oz cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
- Whisked 6 egg whites until stiff – should always be done last, but I hate having to wash up my beaters half way through a process, so I do it first, making sure everything else pretty much ready to go when I’ve finished.
- Beat 6 egg yolks with 160g caster sugar until thick and creamy.
- Beat in the chocolate mixture.
- Stirred in 75g of the hazelnuts.
- Folded in the flour alternately with spoonfuls of the egg white until all just incorporated.
- Poured into a 22cm cake mould and baked for 40 minutes at 180C.
- Left to cool in the tin for 20 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Threw a handful of raisins into a small pan and just covered with sweet sherry.
- Brought this to a near simmer, then turned off the heat and left the raisins to soak until cold.
- Whipped some double cream until soft peaks formed, then whisked in some quark (low fat curd cheese). The recipe had suggested Greek yogurt or fromage frais, but this was the nearest thing I had in the fridge at the time.
- Stirred in the raisins and sherry.
- Omitted adding icing sugar as I thought the raisins and sherry would be sweet enough.
- Placed the cake onto a serving plate & dusted lightly with icing sugar.
- Scattered the remaining hazelnuts over the top, then dusted again with icing sugar.
- Served with a large dollop of the sherry raisin cream.
The cake rose beautifully, I was expecting it to sink like a souffle, but luckily, it sank just enough to gave a pleasingly level top. This is one for the adults – rich, dark & slightly bitter it almost borders on the savoury. The crunchy pices of hazelnut provide an interesting contrast to the smooth crumb of the cake. As for the raison cream, it was delicious in its own right and we could have happily eaten a bowlful. It enhanced the flavour of the cake and bought out its fruity notes. This would be good as a dinner party dessert and despite its magnificence, it is very easy to make.