The weather has turned grey. Damp, heavy clouds keep showering us. The light never turns up from a gloomy glow. Here comes winter.
I found this recipe in Ottolenghi's first cookbook. I've tried a few wonderful savoury recipes and thought it was about time to make a sweet one. Unusually I didn't pick any of the ones that caught my eye, but settled on this chocolate fudge cake. This may or may not be because I've just received a kilogram bar of Valrhona (a.k.a. a thing of extraordinary beauty) in the post and wanted to play with it.
Unfortunately it wasn't as wonderful as I was hoping. I'm certain that it is my fault, not the recipe. I've been making a lot of rookie mistakes in the kitchen in the past few weeks. I'm not entirely sure why - perhaps a new kitchen, perhaps just a little dip in self confidence. Whatever the reason, it has been very frustrating (and embarrassing in the case of a very dry and not that nice birthday cake). Worse, it makes me question myself and my choices. Can I do this?
There are a lot of things that were slightly off with the way I made this recipe. First of all, my brown sugar syrup didn't really work - the sugar wouldn't melt into a smooth syrup properly. This gave it all a slightly grainy texture. I didn't chop the chocolate quite fine enough so there were some tiny lumps left. I halved the recipe, which I don't think really worked - I also didn't have the right tin with me though this tart tin did give it a pretty shape. I've put the full recipe below. My egg whites were tending towards dry (the new mixer is just too effective!). I didn't wait till it was totally cold before adding the second layer and a lot of the air had been squished out of the extra mixture by that point. My new oven is also pretty dodgy. I then forgot to dust it with cocoa powder.
Despite all this, it still tasted good. I served it with some strawberries and softly whipped cream or creme fraiche. I'd love to make this again, properly, and see the difference. I just wish I hadn't used all that Valrhona!
My photos for this were taken later in the day than normal. I haven't worked out the light spots and places to shoot in my house yet. I still like these - I think they have quite an Orangette feel about them.
Chocolate Cake Mousse Tart
(Adapted from Ottolenghi's Cookbook)
240g unsalted butter
360g dark chocolate (about 60% to 70% to taste)
290g light brown sugar
4 tbsp water
5 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
cocoa for dusting (I forgot)
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and fully line a 20cm tin. Chop the butter up into small pieces and place in a big bowl. Chop the chocolate up very finely and put that in the bowl too. Weigh out the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. When you have a syrup, pour over the chocolate and butter and stir until smooth. Add the yolks of the eggs one by one. Leave to cool to room temperature. Whisk the egg whites and salt together until you have stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in three batches. Spoon two thirds of the mixture into the tin and lightly spread. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.
Press the crust down slightly (I left a rim as I was worried it would spill out of my shallow tin) and pour in the rest of the mixture. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool and then dust with cocoa to serve.
(Serves about 10)