Welcome back Dear Readers! Did you all have a good break? I'm guessing that by now, all of us are back at work, if in body but not in mind. Perhaps wistfully looking outside and then glancing at the calender for the next long weekend or extended break.
I had a good break of sorts. After New Year's Eve I fell into a heap of exhaustion and illness and spent two days in bed sleeping and watching Orange Is the New Black (LOVE!). I would wake up and sing "Chocolate and Vanilla swi-irl swi-irrrl" to Mr NQN who thought that I was hallucinating. Thankfully after the two days of rest I was ready for three days in the country.
Our friends Louise and Viggo had invited us up to Louise's family's homestead about six hour's drive from Sydney. I had only one task: to make dessert on Saturday night. Other than that there were no obligations or tasks which sounded like heaven. It's a magnificent property at 37,000 acres full of history (it is rumoured that long time fugitive Malcolm Naden may have hidden out on the edges of the property).
During the day we drove out to explore the enormous property. We took a look at the original buildings still well preserved. We also stopped into the town of Uralla for lunch - the local brewery there was heaven sent given the 45°C/113°F temperatures.
We visited their pigs, saw their sheep and cattle, played squash and swam in the pool and dipped our legs in the spa. Mr NQN climbed a ladder to collect mulberries from the tree and he retrieved guinea fowl eggs for me to cook with. When sunset came we went to their cellar door for Merilba Estate wines situated right next to the homestead and ate cheese and drank wine and beer. It was wonderfully relaxing.
For dessert, I baked this chocolate whisky cake. I didn't know if anyone was gluten free but as I was bringing ingredients from home I wanted to make a cake that didn't require an enormous amount of ingredients. I knew that they had eggs because they have chickens but the rest was easily brought from Sydney. It turned out that Annette, Louise's mum has an extensively stocked pantry because of course the nearest town is quite a drive away.
The cake itself is simple and gluten free and I used some Amedei "9" chocolate that Tania had kindly fairy godmothered me. It is made with cacao beans from nine separate private plantations. It's a rich chocolate cake and dense too and I'd recommend serving this with a dollop of cream and a chocolate whisky sauce. You can certainly add more whisky if you like the taste and want to serve a grown up sort of dessert. I topped it with some fresh cherries rolled in fine sugar as cherries are so abundantly good right now.
So tell me Dear Reader, how did you spend the Christmas break? Do you feel relaxed and rejuvenated? And what new television shows are you watching?
Chocolate Whisky Cake (Gluten Free)
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
- 250g/0.5 pound dark best quality chocolate
- 125g/4ozs butter
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 3 tablespoons whisky or rum (use rum if you want to make it completely gluten free)
- 1/4 cup fine polenta
- 4 tablespoons white sugar
- Cherries to decorate
Chocolate Whisky Sauce
- 100g/3.5 ozs dark chocolate
- 3/4 cup cream
- 1 tablespoon whisky
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a 20cm/8inch springform pan with parchment. Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler or in a microwave. Cool for about 10 minutes.
Step 2 - Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form and then add 1/4 cup of the sugar and whip to firm peaks. Place in a clean bowl and then whisk the yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whisky.
I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar on top before baking but I don't think that it needed it
Step 3 - Add the cooled chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and then fold in the fluffy egg whites in four lots. Add the polenta and spoon into the prepared baking tin. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool - don't worry about cracks in the top, it will sink.
Step 4 - To decorate, wash cherries and gently dry them and roll them in the extra sugar.
Step 5 - To make the sauce, melt the dark chocolate, cream and whisky together and stir well.