I don't really like to do anything by halves - I tend to plunge into things headfirst, so when making a recipe for the first time I'm not always as careful as I should be. I tend towards things that aren't too fussy most of the time, but this didn't seem to be in the fernickety category. It is actually pretty easy, and the only problematic bit was the chocolate melting step.
The recipe called for the chocolate to be melted together with liquid glucose and rum. Now, I am definitely a fidgeter, and will fiddle with anything that's to hand (I am trying to train myself not to doodle in work meetings, though I did spy a 50-something male colleague drawing tanks and planes in his margins this week so perhaps it's not such an issue?), and melting chocolate just cries out to be stirred. Not in this recipe! Leave it alone or you may end up with the dark, depressing lumps of chocolatey rock I did - about $20 worth of nice 70% Lindt destroyed.
|No amount of beating would redeem this mess!|
Rather typically, the first batch not only put me out of chocolate but also used up the last of our rum, so I pleaded with Mr Cake to go on a mercy mission while I cleaned the meteoritic bits of chocolate out of the bowl.
Second time round I was a bit on edge while the chocolate was melting but it turned out perfectly - it really is very simple. Line a cake/tart tin, grease liberally with butter, sprinkle with crumbs. The chocolate, glucose and rum go in a double boiler and are left alone (please learn from my mistake!) until the chocolate is melted - probably 20-25 minutes, which is an extraordinarily long time when you're anxious you might be sentencing another 450g of chocolate to its death (incidentally, the replacement chocolate is DGF Royal, a French brand stocked at Moore Wilson, which is high quality but significantly cheaper than Lindt - we got a 2kg box for $44, which sounds like a lot of money but is pretty good value for the good stuff). I waited until the chocolate at the edges was clearly completely melted (all glossy and beginning to run) and the stuff in the middle (which was swamped with liquid and stayed quite cool to the touch) looked like it was beginning to give.
The moment of truth - when I approached the bowl with my wooden spoon - and it started off looking very similar to round one, but very quickly became smooth and glossy.
The base is simply biscuit crumbs - the recipe recommends amaretti biscuits, which I recommend as the almond flavour complements the dark chocolate very well, but if you prefer you could easily switch these for something else.
Once the chocolate stuff has cooled a bit you fold through some cream - this really is pretty easy - in two stages...
... and then pour it onto the base.
(much as I love the pretty pour-from-afar effect it's actually smarter to pour from just above the base if you don't want the crumbs displaced)
Then it just goes into the fridge to firm up - the recipe said overnight, but I was hoping 6 hours or so would be enough, and then the prep was delayed a fair bit by the chocolate fiasco, so it was probably only about four hours - but it was well set when we ate it.
This is a stunner of a recipe - really quite simple to make (just don't stir that melting chocolate - did I make my point on that?) and now that I know the secret I'll be making it again. It's a very dense, truffley torte - true to its name - and the base is great. We all really enjoyed the crumbs - there's no binder in the "crust" so unlike your average cheesecake the base wasn't making it yet richer, but still provided that nice crumbly texture. If you wanted to be all cheffy you could just serve the crumbs on the plate as a separate element - you know the way "cheesecake" in fancy restaurants sometimes comes?
The rum wasn't a strong element - the flavour was barely detectable through the dark chocolate - so you could easily switch it out for another liqueur if you prefer - perhaps amaretto to build on the almond flavour.
We served it with some nice vanilla ice-cream, and it's so rich that you probably do want something simple like that on the side - thick unsweetened yoghurt would also work well, and/or some fresh berries - the classic chocolate mitigators. ;-)
I still have the chocolate meteorite on my bench, though - I wonder if it's usable for anything. The fat has separated out so I guess I effectively have a bunch of cocoa butter, and a big lump of cocoa solids. Anyone have any ideas?
Have you had any major kitchen failures? Did you manage to figure out what went wrong and fix them up or was it a lost cause?
Truffle Torte (from Taste Magazine/Desserts by James Martin)
butter, for greasing
110g amaretti biscuits
450g dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids), in small pieces
4 Tbsp liquid glucose (available from the baking aisle of the supermarket or cake decorating stores)
4 Tbsp rum
cocoa butter, to serve
Line a 23cm cake or tart tin with greased baking paper (I find it easier to grease the paper flat then place in the tin). Crush the biscuits and spread the crumbs evenly over the base of the tin.
Place the chocolate, liquid glucose and rum in a bowl over a saucepan of just-simmering water (ensure the bowl doesn't touch the water), and leave it to melt for 20-25 minutes - do not stir! When the chocolate appears melted and smooth, stir to combine, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Beat the cream until very lightly whipped - until it just barely holds its shape. Fold half of the cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold the chocolate mixture through the remaining cream until smoothly combined. Pour into the tin and tap the tin to smooth the mixture. Cover and chill for four hours or overnight.
Dust with cocoa powder and serve with ice-cream, yoghurt or berries.