Chocolate Spiral Cake.

I made this cake over Christmas as an alternative to pudding – it is based on a recipe from a great book called “From Lynda’s Table”. Lynda is the proprietor of Dublin Cookery School, and published this book last year, chronicling her foodie travels around the world. Here, I am using ground almonds instead of hazelnuts, a drop of chocolate liquor for depth of flavour and adding white chocolate ganache to top. It worked really well, so easy to make, and looked quite elegant on the table. Also, a little goes a long way as it is very rich. Bonus: it is gluten-free, so family/friends who are coeliac can indulge too.

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Ingredients:

170g butter

170g sugar

6 eggs

170g ground almonds

170g dark chocolate (I like Lindt 70 percent for this, but the Monsieur Roth brand available in Aldi/Lidl is perfect, and significantly cheaper.)

1 tsp chocolate liquor, or kaluha (brandy at a push).

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease and line a 9” circular tin.

2. Separate the eggs, leaving the whites to one side. Cream the butter and the sugar until smooth, and gradually add the yolks one by one, beating well with each addition.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, or over some boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, then mix with the butter/sugar/eggyolky mixture.

4. Beat the egg-whites until stiff (i.e. when you can tip the bowl over, and they don’t collapse onto the floor – i.e. don’t check this until you’re sure kiddo.)

5. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture scoop by scoop, alternating with a couple of a spoons of grounds almonds, until all the ingredients are combined. Add the liquor.

6. Bake the cake for around 40 minutes in the preheated oven – test it with a skewer to see if it is done after about 38 minutes. Be aware that the cake will deflate as it cools, and may even sink inwards a little in the centre.

Ganache:

170g dark chocolate, chopped quite finely.

175ml single cream.

1. Heat the cream in a saucepan. Just as the cream is coming to the boil, add the chocolate, remove from the heat and stir gently until melted.

2. Allow to cool until it is about the consistency of thick yoghurt – pop it into the fridge if you like, but if you leave it too long, it will set quite hard. If this happens, you can heat it up in the microwave, but again you’ll have to wait for it to cool again, so it can be easier just to let it cool naturally the first time!

3. If you are having this for a special occasion, you can also make a 1/2 batch of white ganache (exactly the same as above) for decorating.

4. Generally, when the ganache is at the consistency you want it at, just dump it over the top of the cake, and allow it to cover the sides evenly. It might seem like you will lose a good bit down the sides, but pop the cake on some greaseproof paper, and you can scrape it off and reuse. This is so much easier than trying to smooth it out yourself.

5. Allow the dark chocolate to cool before you attempt a spiral with the white – I generally use a make-shift piping bag made out of a plastic sandwich bag, and just cut the top off. Bear in mind that the white chocolate will spread, so don’t try anything too intricate!

To serve – keep it in the fridge until about 20 mins pre-serving, and then remove, so the sponge isn’t freezing. It is great for a couple of days, it keeps very well, and for up to a week in a tin, without the icing. It is rich, so cut in small slices.

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