- Food & Drink
I’m a tiny bit late on this one, so let’s pretend it’s the 6th November. Because on the 6th November The Dish and The Spoon was 6 months old – a momentous occasion that deserves party hats, balloons, cake and a timely blog post from me. Ahem.
It has been an exciting, infuriating, exhausting, interesting and fun 6 months. There have been wonderful days, when everything worked and everyone was happy. And there have been some shocking days, when I could’ve laid down on the kitchen floor and wailed like a toddler who’s realised that they really do have to eat their sandwich before they can have the biscuit. Happily, the wonderful times have more than outweighed the shocking ones, and I’ve generally resisted the urge to tantrum all over the tiles. Plus, when times were tricky I had my new pal coffee to see me through.
I’ve learnt a lot and met many lovely people who I’m very glad to have in my life. Sometimes I consider the past 6 months and I cannot believe how much my life has changed or how happy it has made me. I’m very lucky to have had this opportunity and will always be glad Shona took a chance and let me run amuck in her cafe.
But enough of this soppy emotional nonsense. Let’s talk cake. You can’t have a celebration without cake. I wanted to make something special to mark the occasion and, because one of the team endures allergies, it had to be wheat and dairy-free. Some creative googling lead me to this recipe for a flourless chocolate cake. A combination of dark chocolate, coconut oil, maple syrup, water and eggs, it’s not a cake in the sense of bouncy sponges and dribbly icing. It’s more a barely set ganache that’s so rich a slice can take days to eat through (if you’re restrained).
Rather than make one large cake, I divided the mixture between individual cake tins so everyone got their own cake to take home and scoff without fear of having to share. To help them eat their way through it, I made walnut praline as a sweetly-bitter crunchy counterpoint to the outrageousness of the chocolate. The gold stars are just because I like sparkly stuff.
Chocolate cakes with walnut praline
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 1/140°C/fan oven 120°C. Grease 10 (10cm) round cake tins with coconut oil and line the bases with baking parchment. Shake a spoonful of cocoa powder into each tin and turn and tap the tins to coat the sides and bottom with cocoa powder. Set aside. Boil the kettle.
2 Make the chocolate cake mix following this recipe. The metric measurements are 500g dark chocolate, 250ml coconut oil, 190ml maple syrup and I used medium eggs. I placed the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl, melted the coconut oil and added the warm oil to the chocolate. Then I placed the bowl over a pan of water, brought it to the simmering point and switched off the heat. After 10 minutes or so, with a little stirring, it had melted and combined. Then I carried on exactly as per the recipe.
3 Once you have your cake mixture, divide it between the cake tins. Place these in a shallow roasting tin and place in the oven. Pour in enough hot water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the cake tins. Bake for 20–30 minutes or until the cakes are just set but still with a little shimmy in the middle when gently shaken. Let the cakes cool in their tins and then chill overnight in the fridge – this is crucial.
4 Make the walnut praline: spread the walnuts out on a baking tray and toast in an oven set to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C for 8–10 minutes or until the skins are flaking. Tip into a tea towel and rub the skins off them.
5 Place the sugar in a small pan with 2 tsp cold water and heat, swirling the pan (but don’t stir it) until the sugar has melted. Continue to heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the walnuts straight away. Stir to coat them, then tip out onto a baking tray to cool. Once cold, blitz in a mini food processor until finely chopped.
6 To serve the cakes, run a warm knife around the edges of the tins and gently turn out. They should have set solid and come out fairly easily. Peel off the paper from the bottom of the cakes and place on a serving plate. Scatter a little walnut praline over each cake and sprinkle with a few edible gold stars. The cakes will keep in the fridge for at least a week (but the smell with force you to eat a spoonful or two every time you open the fridge door).