Give a Little Love

The holidays are always a good excuse for baking, and it's one of many things that make this time of the year so enjoyable. Honestly, given the choice, which would you prefer: a three-hour marathon session of crowd-fighting at the mall/on the high street, or three hours of baking on your own, or with your kids (or your neighbours'/friends') and loved ones? I would definitely go the for the latter. The shopping just knocks me out and renders me useless for the rest of the week-end, whereas the baking leaves me wanting more! Although I am a little short on time this year, my holiday baking usually stretches over days, and what better way to wile away the time when the rambunctious nieces and nephew descend upon you?

Personal favourites at this time of the year are gingerbread cookies and fruit cakes. I know that fruit cakes have a bad rap, but, oh my! given the right recipe, these cakes are to die for! Seeing as I won't be baking any fruit cakes this year, I will save that recipe for another time. As for my preferred gingerbread cookie recipe, I've been using Martha Stewart's for nearly twenty years, and it's a good thing. This year I'll be veering away from tradition, and baking a few chocolate cakes...

Although I've already mentioned my dislike of chocolate, I realise that I am more the exception than the rule. Most of my friends are fans, and so why deny them the pleasure? The following recipe will have many a choco-holic falling head over heels for it, and it might even knock the socks off of a fervent choco-phobic!

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this chocolate cake: this recipe is the first one I ever created myself from scratch. Back when I was teaching in Japan, a close friend of mine requested a chocolate cake. I obviously didn't have a recipe with me, so I had to concoct one by mixing and matching all the cake recipes I had with me. There were a few trials and errors, and it was quite an adventure: the first few times I made this tort, I used a stove-top oven, an object very much like a cooking implement one might bring on a camping trip! It has since been modified to be completely gluten-free, and it all the better for it.

Kids will most likely enjoy the chocolatey-ness, but there is something very grown-up about this tort. Use the best quality chocolate you can find, with a percentage between 56 and 75, depending on how much of a chocolate hit you want. 

Gâteau au Chocolat
Serves 6 to 8

250g/ 8.75oz  chocolate
112g/ ¼lb butter
100g/ 3/8 cup sugar
4 large eggs
icing sugar for dusting

Pre-heat oven to 175°C/ 345°F.
Butter and line with baking parchment a 15cm/6" mould. Set aside.
Over a hot water bath, melt the butter and the chocolate.
Beat sugar and eggs until pale yellow and frothy.
Slowly pour melted chocolate into egg mix, all the while whisking vigorously.
Pour batter into the buttered and lined mould.
Bake for about 45minutes.
Set aside until cool enough to chill in the refrigerator.

Dust with icing sugar, and serve fridge cold with a dollop of sour cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a drizzle of brandied custard. If icing sugar is too plain for your liking, top the tort with some caramel popcorn! That'll get it in the festive mood! To obtain pristine slices, use a sharp knife dipped in scalding-hot water and wiped clean between each slice. Although a 15cm/ 6" cake normally serves 4 to 6 portions, this tort is so dense, it will easily satisfy 8 people, or more.

Indulge yourself.

Bon app'!


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