Couple of weeks ago, during the “quarterly visit” to Costco, we ran into a big books stand loaded with cook books. I wasn’t planning on any additions to my culinary library, but my wife picked out of a huge pile a book with Christmas recipes. Since we’re new to Australia, I thought it’d be a great excourse into Australian traditional Christmas delights, and I was most definitely not mistaken. So, the first recipe we (ok, ok, my wife 🙂 ) picked was this luscious, totally crazy and addictive dark chocolate and sherry-cherry cake. Chocolate junkie like me, I was in heaven!!!
Now, if you think that’s just another chocolate cake, by all means, think again! Fresh cherries, soaked overnight in cherry liqueur (sherry wine, originally, but had no sherry, so used the most obvious replacement and it worked great!), combined with fine dark chocolate, give your taste buds an experience you’ve never had before 🙂
For 12 portions:
- 300 g (9 1/2 oz) fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) of cherry liqueur (or sweet sherry wine/brandy)
- 100 g (3 oz) butter, cubed
- 200 g (6 1/2 oz) dark semi-sweet chocolate (I prefer a real dark one, 70% minimum), chopped coarsely
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) firmly packed light brown (or demerara) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup (100 g) self raising flour
- 1/2 cup (50 g) cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup (80 g) sour cream
For the chocolate ganache:
- 200 g (6 1/2 oz) dark semi-sweet chocolate, broken into cubes – again, my suggestion is at least 70% cocoa
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) pouring cream (double cream, 35% fat)
For the whipped cream flowers topping:
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) pouring or thickened cream (double cream, 35% fat)
- 30 g caster sugar
So, since baking is not really my cup of tea, the main process here was done by Orit, my wife, also known as the head of the patisserie department of this site. I was allowed to do the dirty work and the decorations :). The dirty work was pitting the cherries (boy, were my hands purple red or what?! 🙂 ), quartering them and soaking in cherry liqueur overnight.
For the cake we used 24 cm round spring baking pan, lined with parchment paper (baking paper). Sides of the pan were greased with butter.
The first stage was to melt the chocolate with the butter… Well, the recipe said to do it over the bain marie, but who’s got the time to play around with that? Microwave and a microwave safe bowl do the trick very nicely. Start with 90 seconds and, if needed, heat some more.
Meanwhile, giving the melted chocolate time to cool a bit, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture whitens and triples itself (about 5 minutes). Stir in the melted chocolate, sour cream and whisk. Add the sifted flour and cocoa powder and whisk until combined. Add the cherries together with the soaking liquid, stir – and the cake mixture is ready.
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Pour the cake mixture into the baking pan and bake about 1 hour and 20 minutes – when checking the cake the poker should come out slightly wet. Let the cake cool in the pan.
While the cake is in the oven, we can prepare the chocolate ganache and the whipped cream for the topping. The ganache will require the same microwave method – melt the chocolate with the cream and whisk until smooth, then let cool for about 20-25 minutes, or until nicely spreadable. For the whipped cream – simply whip the cream using a mixer until soft peaks, add the sugar while beating, and continue until the hard peaks. Fill a pastry bag fitted with small star nozzle and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Once the cake is cool, remove from the baking pan, spread the ganache on the top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Once the ganache is firm, use the whipped cream pastry bag to create the decorations in any form you like – I’ve done some stars :).
Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days (without the whipped cream the cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 month – that is, if it’ll survive that long 🙂 ).