Sunday, December 27, 2015

Black Forest Squares

A traditional English rib roast is a much loved holiday meal. Grey sky's belie the festive atmosphere in our house. Christmas tree lights twinkle. FaceTime and phones ring in sync. We speak to family and friends near and dear. And of course feast on our favorites. As I said the weather is truly English in demeanor. It's goes hand in hand with the standing rib roasting in a slow oven. Par boiled parsnips and Fingerling's swim in beef drippings. Shiitakes and portobellos saute with an abundance of thyme and butter. Green snap peas provide a color contrast. Mini Yorkshire puddings puff and turn crisp brown. And Tom Collins fuels the drive!

But we live for dessert. It's always something special, catering to all family tastes. This year it is a deconstructed version of Black Forest Cake. Rather then the usual round, mini squares are perfect individualized portions. Cake flour makes an airy, thrice sifted light genoise cake. Cooled, the cake is cut into squares and then sliced horizontally in two layers. Each square is moistened with simple syrup and kirsch, then generously covered with sugared whipped cream and Morello cherries. Topped with the other half square, sprinkled with sugar syrup, kirsch, cream and cherries, this square is covered with a blizzard of chocolate shavings. Assembled, they chill in the fridge while dinner is done.

Makes 12 squares

2/3 cup Cake Flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process Cocoa 
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract 
2 teaspoons instant Coffee powder
1 cup Sugar 
Butter to grease baking pan
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
6 tablespoons Kirsch or Cherry Brandy
2 cups heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 32oz jar Morello Cherries
1 Dark Chocolate bar

Butter a 9x13 baking pan.

Sift cake flour onto paper once. I use old newspapers. Parchment is the way to go.

Place sifted flour back in the sifter. Add cocoa and salt to flour. Sift this mixture three times.

Crack eggs into a large bowl of a stand mixer.  Or use a bowl and a hand mixer.

Add vanilla and coffee powder.

Beat eggs on high speed till they are the consistency of softly whipped cream. This will take 10-12 minutes.

Add 1 cup sugar a tablespoon at a time.

Heat oven to 350F.

Remove bowl from stand.

Sift and fold in 1/5th of the flour mix into batter, using a spatula. Do this carefully as you do not want to deflate the batter. Repeat with other four additions.

Scrape batter into prepared baking pan. Thump pan counter 2 or 3 times to get the air out and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check cake by inserting a toothpick or skewer into cake center. It should come out clean. 

While cake bakes make a simple syrup by mixing 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and take off the flame. Cool syrup before using.

Rest cake on cooling rack for 5 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Invert cake onto baking sheet. Leave pan inverted for 1 1/2 hours. The cake will drop down onto the parchment paper.

Cut sponge into twelve squares, using a serrated knife. Cut each square horizontally into two layers.

Whip cream till stiff peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and continue whipping for a few minutes till sugar is well mixed. Refrigerate cream till needed.

Strain cherries of all liquid.

Arrange squares on a platter.

Add kirsch to simple syrup.

Moisten squares with simple syrup.

Top with dollops of cream.

Dot with 4-6 cherries per square.

Cover squares with corresponding layers.

Moisten tops with simple syrup.

Drop dollops of cream onto the top layers. A fancy way to do this is by putting whipped cream in an icing bag with a fluted tip.

Dot with additional cherries.

Using a vegetable peeler, scrape generous shards of chocolate all over squares. 

Chill squares before serving.

Dinner is heady delight. The aroma of cooked meat and its sides reminds G of dinners at Aunty Raynahs'. Then again we know how important olfactory reminders are. We know this is a special meal as we eat off my parents wedding china. And we know all too well what is most Dessert is welcomed and demolished by all. The Louis family come to lunch the next day. As I serve up a repeat performance for dessert, I am told by Col that these should be called rectangles instead!!! I guess I don't quite make the cut!