Friday, 31 October 2014
Earl Grey Chocolate Torte and Spooky Poached Pears
I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen at Halloween and have been churning out endless quantities of bat and pumpkin shaped gingerbread biscuits this year. I also love a good blood splattered cupcake or eyeball cocktail. Earlier this week, however, I produced a slightly more grown-up autumnal feast for a few friends and after serving up some delicious roasted pumpkin and feta alongside slow roasted lamb I rounded things off with this lovely chocolate torte.
By using ground almonds instead of flour this deliciously moist chocolate cake is naturally gluten free and a little injection of earl grey prevents the cake from getting too sickly. The original torte recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food and I only tweaked it very slightly to make it dairy free too (but go check out the original too). I was then inspired by the latest in-store Tesco magazine to decorate this delectable treat with a few spooky poached pears to add to the Halloween spirit. And it proved to be a delectable desert for some semi-sophisticated adults….although I’m sure it would go down with your common spooks and ghouls pretty well too!!
2 Earl Grey tea bags
100ml almond milk
250g dark chocolate
200g dairy free margarine
140g ground almonds
6 eggs (separated)
200g caster sugar
Heat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.
Line the bottom and sides of a 22cm diameter, loose-bottomed, cake tin with greaseproof paper ensuring the paper rises above the rim of the tin to allow the cake to rise right up.
Heat the almond milk in a heat proof jug in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds until warm.
Split the teabags and empty the tea leaves into the milk. Set aside to infuse.
Place the chocolate and margarine in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t come in contact with the water). Once melted and fully combined remove the bowl from the heat and add the almonds, egg yolks and cooled milky tea (along with the tea leaves. Stir until combined and set aside.
In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites using a hand blender until soft peaks begin to form. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy and peaks of the mixture stand on end when you remove the mixer.
Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Repeat until all of the egg whites are combined with the chocolate mix, begin careful not to overwork the mixture.
Transfer to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until just firm (although there can still be a slight wobble in the middle of the cake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This can easily be made the day before you want to eat this cake...although probably best to decorate it just prior to serving!
POACHED PEARS & DECORATION
5 Pears (I used conference)
400ml apple juice
200g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate
On the day you are planning to eat your torte place the apple juice and sugar in a pan and place over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.
Peel the pears and place into the simmering apple juice mixture, allow the pan to bubble away for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. All the pears to cool completely in the syrupy apple juice before you fish them out.
Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted spread the chocolate out on a greaseproof piece of paper laid out in a baking tray. With a little bit of the melted chocolate shape it into disks and small blobs for the scary pear eyes and mouths. Place somewhere cool and allow to set.
Place the torte on a plate.
Carefully pat the pears dry on a bit of kitchen roll to remove excess moisture. Using a little melted chocolate if necessary, decorate the pears with the discs of chocolate made for their mouths and eyes after removing these from the greaseproof paper.
Arrange the pears in the centre of the torte (using them all to support each other).
Using a large sharp knife slice the remaining chocolate into shards and arrange around the outside of the torte (again securing with a little melted chocolate is needed)…and voila, you are ready to impress your guests!