Those who know me know that while I quite enjoy chocolate, I don’t quite have the sort of intimate, loving relationship with it that many of my female (and male!) friends have. In fact, I can go weeks or even a month or two without having a morsel of chocolate pass between my lips…
However, when I do indulge in a little chocolaty pleasure, I want it to be the sort of experience that makes you cry out – a chocgasm, if you will. I mean, what’s the point of being naughty if you’re only going to go about it half-arsed? No, if I’m going for a little guilty pleasure, then it’s gotta be the kind of pleasure that makes me want to roll over after it’s done and light up a post-pleasure cigarette.
So, when I was contacted last month and asked whether I’d be interested in trying some samples of Green & Black’s organic chocolate, I admit that my curiosity got the better of me and I accepted the offer. I’d seen their products around, and had some vegetarian friends who swore by the stuff…plus, I admit that the ‘organic’ branding did take my fancy.
When the parcel finally arrived, I split open the packets with my family eagerly sitting around, and we ran through a taste test of each flavour. The white chocolate tasted like most other good-quality white chocolate that I’ve come across – very milky, very sweet, perhaps a touch more fragrant than other supermarket brands I’ve come across. It melts away quite cleanly on the tongue without leaving much discernable residual oiliness that you get with cheaper chocolates.
However, the milk and dark chocolate taste test unfortunately failed to impress. The dark chocolate definitely had quite an intensely pleasant chocolate note to it, but I found the texture to be somewhat chalky instead of the silken smoothness that I’ve come to expect from a g00d-quality dark chocolate. The milk chocolate had a much better texture than the dark, but didn’t particularly make my tastebuds swoon in any way – though it was still gobbled up in a single sitting by my chocolate-loving mother.
The dark chocolate remaining untouched by the family members, I decided to try it in a recipe and see how well its flavour held up in a dessert. After a little browsing of my bookshelves, I settled on a recipe for a dark chocolate & peanut butter torte with strawberry sauce from my favourite chocolate desserts book, ‘Bittersweet‘ by Alice Medrich. This is definitely a must have cookbook for anyone who is serious about their chocolate desserts, and I figured that Ms Medrich’s recipe would help me to use the chocolate to create a lusciously decadent chocolatey treat to enjoy!
Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Torte w/ Strawberry Sauce
(From ‘Bittersweet‘ by Alice Medrich)
85g bittersweet chocolate (70-72% cocoa)
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp peanut butter
pinch of salt
85g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
4 large eggs, cold (leave them in the fridge till you need them)
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting
Pureed strawberries, sweetened to taste with strawberry jam
Vanilla or white chocolate ice cream, or plain whipped cream depending on your tastes
1. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 180 degrees C, Line the base and sides of a cake tin with nonstick baking paper.
Place your chocolate in a large heatproof bowl in a wide skillet (or saucepan) of barely simmering water, and stir occasionally till nearly all melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir till the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
2. Whisk the sugar, salt and peanut butter into the melted chocolate till well incorporated, then add the butter and beat will an electric mixer.
3. Once the butter has been completely beaten in (no lumps left) and the mixture is smooth and creamy, beat in the eggs one by one, followed by the bourbon and the vanilla.
4. Beat the mixture for another 2-3 minutes or till the batter is light and fluffy, resembling a very fluffy frosting. Spoon the mixture into the lined cake pan and level it with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or till a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with moist (NOT WET!) crumbs clinging to it.
5. Once it has finished baking, set onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
NOTE: Once completely cooled, you can tightly wrap this in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months!
The strawberry sauce isn’t a recipe so much as instructions. Buy a punnet or two of fresh, ripe strawberries, rinse and hull, then pour into a blender with 1-2 tbsp of strawberry jam, and blitz till liquid. You can serve this as is, or if you’re insane like I am, you can run the mixture through a fine sieve to remove all the tiny seeds and pulp (which, incidentally, is quite nice if added to yoghurt or a smoothie!)
The resulting cake is an absolute treat – soft, extremely chocolatey with a faint peanut butter note in the background. It’s rich but not sweet, so this is the sort of of dessert which you can indulge in which won’t have you bouncing off the walls squealing in a sugar rush.
You can serve this with or without the strawberry, but I found that the cake, sauce and lightly whipped cream worked together quite harmoniously to make quite a simple but elegant dessert which would please almost any discerning chocolate lover.
[tags]chocolate cake, gluten-free, green & blacks, dessert, Alice Medrich, Bittersweet[/tags]
Others who have tried this recipe:
- Beth at Beth Morrissey
This post is dedicated to the loving memory of Annette Hosford, known to her friends and colleagues as Netty.
Netty lost her ongoing battle with cancer this morning, and passed away peacefully in her sleep.
A true food & wine lover, Netty loved it when I brought my creations in to work, and whenever I let her know that there was cake to be cut, she was always at the ready with napkins and an appetite, ready to share the calories and laughs.
My thoughts are with the Hosford family, and I hope that the knowledge that Netty is no longer suffering helps to ease some of their pain and the loss.
We will miss you.