Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cakes of Legend: le Montmorency Chocolate Cake & Variations

 I have cooked this cake, and varied it several times, over the past 20+ years.  I first cooked it in 1989 and then not again till last year, when I replaced the cherries with quandongs (photo above and for this blog) and tripled it for my friend Bess' 50th birthday.  It was great!
Last week I cooked it for another friend, not my best effort and I would use more cherries or go back to quandongs.
I used a bigger cake tin than the recipe asks for for Donna's cake above...
 and possibly less cherries.  I was disappointed with the
 results and would suggest that the recipe is adhered to for best results.

I love this cake because it's a bit odd.. I love odd cakes. (Check out the polenta and fig cake).  And I have just been pondering the current fad in cakes for barbie dolls, or aeroplanes etc.. and I must admit I'm not a big fan.  For me a cake is a cake, and it's beauty is looking like what it is, not something else.  To get your chocolate glaze right... with just the right amount of shine and thickness, or have your strawberries sit perfectly in a champagne jelly on the top of a cheesecake... this is beauty.
Anyway, Montmorency cake.  I do use Kirsch, and buy it when interstate.  As a replacement you could use.... schnapps or grappa.
Lifted and adapted from the Time Life "Good Cook" series, Cakes and Pastries.
250 gm chocolate
1 shot espresso coffee
2 tablespoons kirsch
4 eggs, separated yolks from whites
175 gm unsalted butter
50gm flour
125 sugar
2 X 450gm bottles morello cherries or more, or 500gms fresh cherries

Butter and line a 22 cm cake tin with baking paper.
Heat oven to 190 degrees celcius.
Find a stainless steel bowl that sits over a saucepan with 4 cm of water, without touching the water.
Heat the water to boiling pint.
Place the chocolate and coffee in bowl, with half the alcohol for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat, and stir until chocolate is melted.  Remove from saucepan immediately.
Off the heat, stir in egg yolks one at a time, then return to heat and cook through until mixture has thickened slightly.
Off the heat, beat in the butter, a tablespoon at a time, then stir through the flour.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks.  
Gradually add 60gms of the sugar until the mixture forms soft peaks and is glossy.
Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and pour into prepared pan.
Bake for around 25 to 30 minutes until  cake has puffed and is cooked in middle after testing with cake tester or skewer. (Do not overcook)
Allow the cake to cool for 45 minutes before unmoulding.
If using morello cherries, drain them and roughly chop.  Heat through with kirsch and remaining sugar until pulpy.  Allow to cool.
If using fresh cherries, stone them and place in a saucepan with remaining sugar and kirsch.  Cook over a medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes with lid on.  Uncover pan for last 10 minutes until they reduce to pulp.  Allow to cook and roughly chop.
Scoop out the middle of the cake so there is around one centimetre left around the edge and the same on the bottom of the cake.  Add the scooped out cake to cherries and stir.  
Return the mixture to the cake and smooth the top and allow to rest for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight for flavours to set.

300 gm dark cooking chocolate
1 cup cream

Using the double boiler method described above, place chocolate and cream in bowl and melt.  Stir through.
Divide mixture into 2:1.  Chill the larger amount of mixture in fridge for at least a half hour.
Whisk the larger mixture and spread over cake and sides, trying to make it as smooth as possible.
Chill for another half hour.
Warm the remaining mixture slightly so it is liquid.
Place cake on cake rack and pour over liquid chocolate glaze.
Decorate with cherries and chocolate leaves.

Replace cherries with fresh quandongs, remembering to leave the most choice quandongs for decorating.  You may need to add a bit more sugar to get the balance right.