Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ye Olde Power Shortage


A few weeks back we had a power shortage. Although I didn't know what to do with myself, I found the few hours of no electricity kind of great.

I finished the book I was reading (by early morning candlelight). I made porridge the old school way on the stove (everyone else resorted to dry bread, but we all know my feelings towards a proper breakfast). I went for a jog (with an ipod, thankgod it was charged). I attempted some pretty rookie pilates moves (since I can't remember how to do it properly without the aid of a DVD). I took some photos of some pretty flowers to pass the time. I rugged up in a blanket and painted my nails (granted, this can be done with or without electricity).



The power eventually came on by midday, but I continued the old timely tasks through to the afternoon by roasting some chestnuts. I lovingly cut X's into the shells and roasted them in the oven, reveling in the slow pace the morning had set for the rest of the day. I felt very Jane Austen-ish. After roasting, I shelled the nuts and blended them in a food processor to make a puree (I really want to say I pureed them by hand but then I would be lying). At some point, I think I may have accidentally started talking to my mum with a posh British accent. I admit, the task probably would have been more satisfying had I been wearing a bonnet and fine lace gloves, but either way I enjoyed doing things the long way.
I didn't really have a recipe in mind for the pureed chestnuts, so I poured the mixture into a container and froze it, waiting for an appropriate time to whip them out.

And yesterday that time came, as it was my lovely mum's birthday. I decided to make a ridiculously rich, dense and boozy Dark Chocolate and Chestnut Torte, that definitely would have favoured Mr. Darcy's affections...


Dark Chocolate and Chestnut Torte
(adapted from Gourmet 1990)

2 cups roasted chestnuts, blended together with water to form a paste (or use a can of chestnut puree)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons frangelico liquer (optional, but encouraged)
4 tablespoons dark rum (optional, but again, encouraged)
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
280g dark, fairtrade chocolate, chopped and melted
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

In a food processor, blend chestnuts, butter, frangelico, and rum together to form a smooth puree. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. To this, add the vanilla essence and the melted chocolate and mix with an electirc handmixer to combine. While the mixer is on, add the egg yolks one at a time (yolks only).

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt together until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and cocoa slowly to the eggwhites, while the beaters are still going. Beat for a few more minutes until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.

Scoop half of the egg whites into the chestnut mixture, and lightly stir to break up and lighten the batter. Now fold in the rest of the egg whites, using a light hand but combining well. Pour the batter into a lined and greased 9-inch sprinform cake tin. Smooth out the top of the cake and bake for 50 minutes in a preheated 180 degrees celsius oven.

After 50 minutes, leave the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and leave the torte to cool further, with the bottom of the pan still on. After it has cooled for another 10 minutes, remove the bottom of the cake tin and leave to set. When ready to serve, drizzle melted chocolate over the top and sprinkle some icing sugar and cocoa. Yum.

The half demolished cake last night....


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