|Photos by Steve Shanahan|
First published Canberra Times 3 April 2012.
There is no doubting the extravagant appeal of this special occasion cake, and it really is the perfect chocolate indulgence for the Easter break.
With that wow factor appeal, this torte is usually greeted with gasps of delight when presented to an appreciative dinner group, then inevitably followed by more muted sounds of approval, as guests savour its taste and texture.
It made a festive party dessert, enjoyed during the countdown to the 2012 new year. This group, dedicated to the appreciation of the grape, tasted a number of luscious magnums of well-aged reds. This torte, accompanied by a short black, held its own, proving to be a worthy finale to the old year.
I am under no illusion, that these are the sorts of overblown sentiments that tend to come with the occasion and magnums of well-aged wines. The qualities of this torte has proven itself to be well appreciated when sober too.
I think the addition of Turkish delight lifts the cake to another dimension, bringing the flamboyance and exotic flavours of Turkey right into the dining room.
A version of this bejewelled concoction has featured recently on a foodie television show and another adaptation of this cake was published last year in the Delicious magazine.
I rate this as my favourite cake recipe. It’s got the looks and flavour, the recipe is a solid performer and will appeal to anyone that loves Middle Eastern flavours.
This cake couldn’t be easier to make, it’s a flourless chocolate single layer cake with a crown of dark chocolate ganache, decorated with jewel like pomegranate seeds, pistachios, edible rose petals and some mint leaves. The cake itself tastes deeply of chocolate, with almost bitter notes that penetrate the whole bite.
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup almond meal
500g halva, chopped, try and source the chocolate flavoured variety
1 tsp rosewater
150g dates, chopped
zest of 2 oranges, grated
120g dark chocolate, chopped finely
200g Turkish delight, chopped
½ cup of brandy
1/8 tspn of ground nutmeg
3 tbsp edible dried rose petals
2 tbsp pistachios, chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
sprig of mint leaves
150ml pure thin cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 24cm spring-form cake tin with baking paper. Beat eggwhites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar beating constantly for about 5 minutes, or until the egg whites are thick and glossy.
Fold in the almond meal, halva, Turkish delight, nutmeg, rosewater, dates, orange zest and the finely chopped chocolate until just combined. Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin, then bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until firm when touched in the middle. Do not overcook as the cake will dry out.
When you remove the cake from the oven and still in the tin, poke about 10 holes in the top of the cake with a skewer. Pour the brandy over the cake, then leave to cool completely in the tin.
Meanwhile, for the chocolate ganache, place the cream and chocolate in a pan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stand for half an hour or so, until it is a thick pouring consistency.
Remove the cooled cake from the pan, carefully removing the paper from the base and sides. Transfer the cake to a serving platter and pour over the ganache, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with rose petals, nuts, pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.
Tip: You can buy chocolate halva from many of the local IGA stores in Canberra and edible rose petals can be bought from good delis and Essential Ingredient.