Many, I know, have tried my recipes, so this is a special one just for you!! Some will be thinking “What has this insane women come up with now?” Anyhow indulge me; you might just enjoy the experience!! The key components of this German confection - chocolate, cherries and cream - are a sublime combination. My version is totally crazy, made up of six layers, most of which will work as desserts in their own right. However, do have a go at the whole thing, though - you'll never think of this gateau in the same way again!!!
So here we go — Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (The Black Forest Gateau), composed of six delicious layers: a Madeleine biscuit base, topped with aerated chocolate, chocolate sponge, kirsch cream, chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse.
The beauty of this recipe is its adaptability. The layers don’t have to be assembled into a gateau: many can be served as desserts in their own right .Children and adults alike will love the chocolate mousse and aerated chocolate. Serving kirsch cream with a bowl of cherries would be an interesting echo of the cake’s origins. This really is six recipes in one — and the possibilities are almost endless.
More than any other dish, perhaps, this one can be let down by its ingredients. The salt plays a pivotal role, enhancing the flavours and tempering the cake’s sweetness. And it is absolutely vital that you use the best chocolate, sour cherries and the finest kirsch that you can get. The kirsch is especially important: I recommend Miclo, but if you can’t obtain that, look for one that is smooth, aromatic and full-flavoured.
Special equipment – the first insane bit!!!
250 mm Springform Cake tin
Food mixer, very large, a small stainless steel cement mixer should serve the purpose nicely - electric version only
2.6-litre hard plastic container with lid (bore a small hole, about 5mm with a cordless electric drill),
Whipping-cream canister and charges (from http://www.easywhip.com), a soda siphon on steroids!!
Vacuum-seal storage bag with one-way valve,
Vacuum cleaner, something like a "Geogre"- you will need it to clear up the debris afterwards
18 volt cordless Electric Drill,
Large cardboard box,
Paint Spray-gun and small air compressor with air purifying filters, otherwise everybody gets food-poisoning
240 mm Electric Cake Decorating Turntable
As there are lots of layers, it means that many different cooking techniques are required. As for making the layers and assembling the gateau in one day that would, undeniably, be no mean feat!! Better to think of this as a major construction project — a flat-pack gateau — and spread out the building tasks. The chocolate sponge and kirsch cream can be prepared up to a month in advance then kept in the freezer, the biscuit base up to a week in advance, keeping it in an airtight container.
The aerated chocolate can be prepared any time: it will keep well in the fridge if sealed properly. That leaves only two layers to prepare on the day: the chocolate ganache and the chocolate mousse — neither of which is particularly laborious.
Madeleine biscuit base
50g unsalted butter
1 large egg
60g plain flour
30g icing sugar, sifted
Teaspoon (5gm) baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
15ml full cream milk, preferably unpasteurised!!
• Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6. Line a 250 mm Springform Cake Tin with greaseproof paper or a little butter.
• Melt the butter over a low heat, then leave to cool a little.
• In a separate bowl, beat the egg and honey together for 5 minutes, or until white and thick. A food mixer with a paddle attachment is ideal for this job.
• Gradually add all the dry ingredients, then the cooled butter and finally the milk. Mix until they are just combined. Do not overbeat.
• Pour the mixture into the Springform Cake Tin and bake for 10 minutes, or until a pale golden brown.
• Turn the oven down to 100º0C/200ºF/Gas Mark1. Use an oven thermometer to check this. Remove it from the tin and place on a baking tray.
• Bake in the low oven for 20 minutes, until deep golden brown and crisp. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.
Aerated chocolate layer
Here, it is a good idea to get all the equipment ready beforehand, so that the chocolate goes through the process quickly, stays liquid and gets well aerated.
500g top-quality milk chocolate (such as Valrhona Jivara 40%)
65g groundnut oil
• Line the 2.6-litre plastic container with greaseproof paper.
• Break the chocolate into chunks and place in a medium-sized glass bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and let the chocolate melt. (The bowl needs to be large enough so it can sit on top of the saucepan without its base touching the water: the aim is to soften the chocolate on the gentlest of heats, so it doesn’t go grainy.) Alternatively, melt the chocolate at high power in a microwave for 1–2 minutes. Again, be careful not to overheat it.
• Place the whipping-cream canister in a bowl or pan of boiling water. (Warming the canister ensures that the chocolate stays molten when poured into it.)
• Stir the oil into the bowl containing the melted chocolate; then pour it all into the whipping-cream canister. Attach the canister cap, and charge with three charges.
• Shake the canister; then squirt the chocolate onto the base of the 2.6-litre plastic container. Put on the lid; then place the container in the vacuum storage bag. Position the storage bag’s valve over the hole in the container’s lid. Switch on the vacuum cleaner and place the hose on the valve to suck the air out of the bag. The chocolate should rise and be riddled with small bubbles. As soon as it does so, remove the vacuum and close the valve as quickly as possible. To set the chocolate, place the box — still in the vacuum bag — in the fridge until required.
Flourless chocolate sponge
65g top-quality dark chocolate (such as Valrhona Caraïbe 66%)
7 egg yolks (140g)
130g unrefined caster sugar
15g good-quality cocoa powder (such as Green & Black’s Organic), sifted
5 egg whites (150g)
• Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 250 mm Springform Cake tin with greaseproof paper or a little butter.
• Break the chocolate into chunks and place in a glass bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and let the chocolate melt (or heat the chocolate at high power in a microwave for 1–2 minutes). Leave to cool.
• Beat the egg yolks with 65g of the caster sugar for 5 minutes, or until white and thick. (A food mixer with a whisk attachment can perform this task.) Stir in the cocoa powder and the melted, cooled chocolate.
• Whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. (The mixer can do this job too. If you have only one mixer bowl, a similarly sized glass or stainless steel bowl will work. Make sure it is spotlessly clean: a dirty bowl is the most common reason for egg whites not stiffening.)
• Gradually fold the egg whites into the egg-yolk mixture, then pour this mixture into the brownie tin and bake for 20–25 minutes. The surface of the cake will look a little dry when removed from the oven, and it may sink slightly. Leave it to cool.
2 sheets of leaf gelatine
5 egg yolks (100g)
90g unrefined caster sugar
250ml whole milk
220ml whipping cream
20ml top-quality kirsch Eaux de Vie Vieux Kirsch Grande Reserve – Miclo
• Line a 250 mm Springform Cake tin with Clingfilm.
• Place the sheets of gelatine in a small bowl and pour over 100ml cold water. Leave for 15 minutes, until soft.
• Beat the egg yolks with the sugar for 5 minutes, or until white and thick. (The food mixer can do this job.)
• Gently warm the milk in a small pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the beaten egg-yolk mixture. Return to a medium heat and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently. Use a digital probe to monitor when the temperature of the mixture reaches 80C/175F, at which point it should be taken off the heat. (It will have become thicker, with tiny bubbles appearing on the surface.)
• Drain the gelatine and stir it into the warm mixture. (Make sure the mixture is not too hot, or the gelatine will break. Make sure, too, that all the gelatine dissolves.) Leave until lukewarm.
• Meanwhile, lightly whip the cream; then add the kirsch. Fold this into the cooled gelatine mixture, then pour the mixture into the brownie tin and place it in the freezer to set for at least 1 hour.
Good kirsch is integral to this recipe, and the quality of the spirit is very important. Here are some pointers:
It must not be too sweet. I like to use one with 50% alcohol — strong enough to stand up to the chocolate.
Look for a brand that is aromatic and flavoursome. I recommend Miclo Millésimé 1986
To make the cherry “stalks”, you need six plump vanilla pods. Cut them into four lengthways, tie a knot at the end of each strip, and then twist it to give a gnarled effect. Place on a plate and leave to dry overnight at room temperature.
You’ve made the biscuit base, the chocolate sponge, the kirsch cream and the decorative stalks for the cherries. Now you need to make the remaining two recipes and assemble the gateau. You’ll also need the following for the final touches.
1 jar of Apricot Baking Glaze
1 jar of top-quality Griottines in heavy syrup
30ml top-quality kirsch (Miclo Millésimé 1986)
500g top-quality dark chocolate (such as Valrhona Caraïbe 66%)
150g groundnut oil
Now make the chocolate genache.
95ml whipping cream
1 tsp glucose syrup
Pinch of table salt
95g top-quality dark chocolate (such as Valrhona Caraïbe 66%)
20g unsalted butter, diced
• Gently heat the cream, glucose syrup and salt. Break the chocolate into a bowl; then stir in the warm cream. When the chocolate has melted entirely, add the butter and stir until that too has melted. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and place it in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.
• Meanwhile, if need be, trim the madeleine base so that it will fit the turntable. Trim the flourless chocolate sponge to the same dimensions as the madeleine base. Cut the aerated chocolate to these dimensions, and trim it so that it is no more than 1cm thick.
• Before putting the madeleine base into the tin, spread it with a generous layer of apricot baking glaze. Put the aerated chocolate on top and place on the turntable.
• Remove the piping bag containing the ganache from the fridge. Around the top of the aerated chocolate, about 2–3mm from the edge, pipe a thick line of ganache. Repeat on the other side. (Looked at from above, the aerated chocolate should now have two circles of ganache, each running parallel to the circumference)
• Drain the cherries and keep the syrup for later use. Fill the gap between the two lines of ganache with a double row of cherries. (The idea is that every person is served a slice containing a pair of cherries, so calculate the number you’ll need accordingly and be sure to space them well. Keep in mind roughly where you’ve placed them — you’ll need to know later.)
• Mix 60ml of the cherry syrup with the kirsch. Dip the chocolate sponge in this soaking syrup; then position it on top of the ganache and cherries.
• Remove the kirsch cream from the freezer and trim it to the same dimensions as the other layers. Carefully place it on top of the chocolate sponge, using a palette knife or fish slice. Put the gateau in the freezer whilst you prepare the chocolate mousse.
4 egg yolks (80g)
200g unrefined caster sugar
100ml whole milk
150g top-quality dark chocolate (such as Amedei’s Chuao)
Generous pinch of table salt
200ml whipping cream
• Beat the egg yolks with the sugar for 5 minutes, until white and thick. (A food mixer with a paddle attachment can be used for this.)
• Gently warm the milk in a small pan. Remove it from the heat and stir in the beaten egg yolks. Return to a medium heat and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently. Use a digital probe to monitor when the temperature of the mixture reaches 80C/175F, then remove from the heat.
• Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a medium-sized bowl. Pour the warm milk and eggs over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Add the salt and leave to cool.
• Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the cooled chocolate mixture.
• Remove the gateau from the freezer.
• Tight wrap greaseproof paper around the outside of the gateau. Pour the chocolate mousse down the side of the greaseproof paper until it reaches a level 1cm above the kirsch cream layer. Return the gateau to the freezer and leave it for at least an hour, to firm up the layer of mousse.
• Using a melon-baller, scoop out a double row of indentations around the gateau. (Ideally, they should be above the cherries that were added earlier.) Return the gateau to the freezer for a least an hour: it needs to be properly frozen in order to get the right effect with the chocolate coating.
• For the coating, break the chocolate into chunks and place in a small glass bowl. Melt the chocolate by placing the bowl over a pan of simmering water, or by heating it at high power in a microwave for about 2 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before stirring in the groundnut oil. (If you don’t plan to coat the cake with the paint gun, take 100g of this chocolate, cut it into shavings and scatter over the cake just before serving)
• Fill the base of the paint gun with the melted chocolate mixture and attach the nozzle. To avoid redecorating the kitchen in chocolate, set the large cardboard box on its side (which effectively provides a protective roof and walls to work in). Remove the gateau from the freezer. Carefully lift it out off the turntable and onto a plate. Remove the greaseproof paper and place the gateau in the cardboard box. Spray the gateau with the chocolate, turning carefully as you go. Return it to the freezer until 20 minutes before serving.
• Use a skewer to bore a small hole, 50–75 mm into the centre of the bottom of each indentation, down towards the cherry below. Agitate the skewer a little to increase the diameter of the holes. Pour in cherry syrup until it reaches the top of the bore-hole (but doesn’t spill out into the indentation itself). Place a sour cherry, stalk end up, in each indentation, and sit a dried vanilla pod in each cherry, to make a decorative stalk
For the full effect, fill an atomiser with kirsch and squirt it round the room just before serving
the gateau — it will magically bring a little of the Black Forest to the dinner table.
Beware, on completion of this magnificent dessert, you will probably have to completely redecorate your kitchen. It will now be in a terrible mess if you have not been very careful...... That is why you should have bought a "George"!!