World’s Best Cakes – Chocolate Gianduja Torte

It’s not often that I crave cake. Usually I crave salt or chocolate, and indulge in a manic burst of crisp-scoffing or jump head-first into a box of Ferrero Rocher (my guilty pleasure). This weekend, I was determined to bake a cake. Of course, I needed to incorporate chocolate in there somewhere, seeing as I have literally piles and piles of bars lying around my house.

My husband often reminds me of this.

‘Honey, did you know you have five bars of ‘Madécasse’ on the dressing table?’…’Yes dear’.

‘Honey, did you mean to leave that bar of Duffy’s on top of the fish tank?’…’Yes dear’.

Having spent several hours pouring through my cake books, I came across a delectable recipe for Paul A Young’s Torta Gianduja in The World’s Best Cakes, by Roger Pizey . If you are wondering, Gianduja is a paste consisting of chocolate, hazelnuts and sugar and is pronounced ‘Gi-an-doo-ya’.

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Roger Pizey is a renowned Chef and has worked alongside Marco Pierre White, who wrote the forward for his fabulous book. Marco describes him as ‘One of the finest pastry chefs Britain has ever known’, and going by his recipes, I couldn’t agree more.

So, on to the business of cake-making. This is a large and very rich cake, which will comfortably feed twelve peckish people or eight piggy ones!

Paul A Young’s Torte Gianduja

Ingredients:

160g butter at room temperature

180g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids, Paul A Young uses Valrhona Guanaja, but I used Pacari Raw Organic 70%)

65ml hot water

60g cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp Frangelico or Amaretto (Frangelico is a hazelnut liquor, whilst Amaretto is an almond based liquor)

260g light muscovado sugar

4 eggs separated

150g ground hazelnuts

A pinch of well-crushed Maldon sea salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 2 ½/160oC/310oF and line an 8 inch (21cm) round cake tin.

Melt the butter with the chocolate in a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, on a low heat, stirring constantly.

Pour the hot water into a bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder until there are no lumps. I found that the cocoa powder and water mixture became a sticky ball, instead of a paste, so I added a little more water to make it ‘whiskable’. Then add the vanilla and the liquor.

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Cocoa 1

Cocoa 2

Add the cocoa mixture to the chocolate and butter. Mix well to make a smooth batter.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar, until thick and light in colour. Now, as the recipe does not give you the size of egg required, I used medium eggs, and found the yolk/sugar mixture was slightly too thick to whisk. So I added a splash of water to the egg yolk mixture, to enable me to mix it properly.

Sugar Yolks

Then pour in the chocolate mixture and add the ground hazelnuts. Fold well until fully incorporated.

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Cakey Swirl

Choc n Nuts

In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt, until you have soft peaks.

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Gently fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon.

Pour into the cake tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes. I found that the centre of my cake was very soft (which I didn’t mind as I like my cakes squidgy, but if you like yours cooked through, you can leave in the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

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Serve on its own, with a cup of strong coffee or as suggested in the book, with a dollop of sweet mascarpone (mascarpone cheese mixed with icing sugar).

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Et Voila! My cake and sugar fix is fulfilled, and not a Ferrero Rocher wrapper in sight.

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Paul A Young – Lapsang Souchong Tea and Rosemary Chocolates

Today I sampled a limited edition flavour of chocolate, bought from my latest trip to Paul A Young Fine Chocolates, located on Wardour Street in Soho.

I am very partial to a nice, strong cup of Lapsang Souchong tea when I am at home, relishing it’s earthy smokiness. I have been told that it is an acquired taste, but I was hooked from the first sip.

So you can imagine my excitement, when I was drawn to a tiny, shiny ballotin box of Lapsang Souchong Tea and Rosemary chocolates. I was initially unsure of the Rosemary element, as although it pairs wonderfully with Lamb, it is quite unusual to see it matched with Tea.

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The small cubes of chocolate snapped cleanly, exposing a dark, water ganache. Immediately, my mouth filled with an intense smoky flavour, and a subtle hint of rosemary. This faded quickly, but the smoke remains even now, and is rather pleasant! The chocolate is a dark 72% cocoa, which leaves an oh-so slight bitterness at the back of my tongue and has a nutty, roasted after-taste, similar to the aftermath of drinking an espresso coffee.

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I really loved trying a new flavour, and was surprised by the unusual combination, which works together beautifully. I look forward to trying some of Paul’s other wonderful creations!

The Chocolate Festival

This weekend, a friend and I visited the Chocolate Festival held at the Southbank Centre in London. We arrived at 12pm, and the place was completely packed! There were stalls, showcasing some amazing chocolate creations, and we must have spent at least three or four hours, perusing the area, finding some unusual flavour combinations and fantastic Christmas-y smells.

We ended up spending a fortune at William Curley, Artisan Du Chocolat, Demarquette and  Herzog. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to even reach the Rococo stall, as there were so many people clambering to sample their fare, but we left happy and content nonetheless.

Afterwards, we hopped onto the tube, and hotfooted it to Paul A Young‘s boutique, in Soho, where we guzzled their sublime Hot Chocolate (made with water, not milk!) and I sampled their infamous, award-winning Chocolate Brownie.

Of course, a trip to Soho, is not complete, without collecting some chocolate-covered coffee beans from The Algerian Coffee Store. I also picked up a block of my favourite hot chocolate – Xocolata Pedra – a blend of high quality cocoa and warming spices, delicious melted in a cup of hot milk.

Such a wonderful weekend, and I am looking forward to tasting all of my chocolate goodies over the next few days. I feel so lucky to live near London, where there are so many talented chocolatiers and unique food businesses. I’m looking forward to sharing my food adventures with you and hope you are able to experience some of them for yourselves.