Darryl and I are spending our Sunday indoors. The rain has swept through Vancouver again after an unseasonably warm January, and reignited our hunger for decadent comfort food. While Darryl planned our dinner of beef short ribs and mashed potato this morning, I hunted down a dessert recipe that looked equally rich and indulgent to follow.
I found today’s recipe, a dense Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Cake, in Donna Hay’s entertaining a gorgeous (Australian!) cookbook that I purchased quite optimistically five years ago. Nothing about a university student’s lifestyle calls for Hay’s recipes for fig and brioche pudding, duck liver paté, or sesame-crusted ocean trout, and the book has sat entirely neglected on my bookshelf since I bought it. But now, as formal entertaining becomes a more desirable—and realistic—pursuit, I’m glad that I have this book on hand to show me the ropes.
The book is designed to teach an intermediate cook the basics of formal entertaining: how to plan a menu for big and small parties, how to choose a wine, and what tools to use. A handy glossary aids the absolute beginner without being obnoxious, describing uncommon foods (szechwan peppercorns) and giving recipes for dishes uncommonly made at home (sushi rice, for example). The book’s recipes are organized into menu options for all kinds of meals and dining, from casual brunch to formal dinner and everything in between. Cleverly, the recipes work as standalone dishes but also coordinate to make elaborate multi-course meals.
The Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Cake was one dessert option in chapter 9 on “Red Carpet Dining.” While the Squid Ink Pasta with Salmon and Roe and Grilled Scampi Tails on Lemon and Chive Risotto will have to wait for another time, this rich dessert looked approachable and quite appropriate for the menu we had in mind for tonight.
Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Cake
Makes: 8-10 servings
Cooking time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 185g (6 oz) butter
- 185g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2/3 cup self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup raspberries
Place butter and chocolate in a saucepan or double boiler over low heat and stir until melted. Cool slightly.
Place eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a bowl and beat until mixture is light and thick. Fold through flours, almond meal, chocolate mixture, and half the raspberries.
Pour mixture into a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Sprinkle over remaining raspberries and bake in a preheated 180 degree Celsius (350 degree Fahrenheit) oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until top of cake is firm to touch.
Cool cake before cutting, and serve with strong espresso, extra raspberries, and thick cream.
This being the dead of winter, I didn’t have any raspberries for the cake, and I didn’t have any clue what almond meal was (uh, it wasn’t in the glossary) so I substituted and omitted respectively. Instead of fresh fruit, I bought Green & Black’s dark chocolate with cherries. I thought the dried cherries/dark chocolate combination would approach the bittersweet spirit of the recipe, and its seems to have done a fine job.
* Sorry, no pictures! Camera is out of commission.