Like most people, I had two grandmothers. I was lucky enough to meet both but alas both my grandfathers passed away before I was born. I don't write about my grandmothers much because truthfully, we couldn't communicate that much. Any stories or anecdotes were fleshed out with body language which made them a little removed. I didn't learn to speak Chinese and they didn't learn to speak English.
When my sister and I were born within a year of each other, each grandmother came over to look one of us. My mother's mother was the one assigned to me. I am often told that I take after her too although to me, she was direct and had a temper (that's the bit that I am like apparently!). Each grandmother came back to live with us when we were older and she was quite scary and whenever I'd have a teenage tantrum I'd be inevitably compared to her. But she had to be strict because she was widowed during the war and had six children to raise by herself.
But as "her granddaughter" whenever we would eat dinner, she would fish out the best pieces of food for me. If there was a plump, glistening prawn she would drop it on my bowl. The best and first serve was always given to her as a gesture of respect and she in turn would hand me the hand picked jewels. I always knew that that was her way of caring, even gruffly and she would sometimes smile in the corner of her eye as she dropped the best morsel my way to my bowl.
She would always have crunchy sweets with her and my favourite were her peanut or sesame snacks. The black sesame ones were my favourite as they were sweet, crunchy and different from other flavours that we had often. I thought of her as I was making this cake that comes out of a book sent to me for review called "Beautiful Food" by Jody the cakes section. Vassallo. It's mostly about healthy food for those that practice ayurveda but of course I flipped straight to the cake section.
This black sesame and chocolate cake is really quite glorious indeed. Easy enough to be made impromptu for a picnic it is rich, dense, dark and fudgey. Jody's recipe doubles the ganache ingredients but for me I like it with just a bit of ganache on top but I'll leave that up to you and personal tastes. With a touch of saltiness and a good slug of exoticness, it is best eaten on the day of baking or you need to keep it in an airtight container.
I did find myself slicing this up and feeding it to people giving Mr NQN a prized piece. Well, I guess they were right, I am definitely quite a bit like her.
Me on the left with my grandmother and sister
So tell me Dear Reader, who in your family are you most like? Were you close to your grandparents? And do you like salt in sweets like salted caramel?
Black Sesame & Chocolate Cake
Adapted from "Beautiful Food" by Jody Vassallo, sent for review
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
- 200g/1 1/3 cups black sesame seeds
- 200g/7ozs butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar (you can also use coconut sugar)
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup plain all purpose flour (you can also use gluten free plain flour)
- 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
- 100g/3.5fl ozs. dark chocolate
- 50ml/1.7fl ozs. cream
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a 20x20 cms square baking tin with parchment. Grind the sesame seeds in a spice or coffee grinder. I did it in a food processor which doesn't do it as finely but it worked - you want the seeds broken up. In a saucepan, melt the butter and the ground sesame seeds on low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes then beat in eggs.
Step 2 - Place the sugar, almond meal, flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the sesame mixture to the flour and mix until combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked through. Cool in tin for 15 minutes and then turn onto cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 3 - Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Add the cream and stir, it should be a consistency that can be spread on the cooled cake.