Ever since I saw Feast@Home by New Zealand food writer Julie Le Clerk I’ve been wanting to make the cake on the cover – a Chocolate Ripple Sliver Cake. But, every time I’ve re-read the recipe, I’ve realised afresh that I simply can’t make it without an electric handheld mixer.
Now, I know that it’s possible to cream sugar and butter together by hand, that eggs and sugar can be whipped to a light froth without an electric mixer, and that it’s possible to beat egg whites into stiff peaks with just a hand whisk – but have you ever done it? Do you know how much it makes your hand and arm ache? And how damn LONG it takes?! The last time that I made a cake involving the creaming method – an Avoca chocolate cake when I was catering the Writer’s hen party – my arm nearly fell off and I had to get the Boyfriend out of bed early on a Saturday morning to help mix. I don’t think he was best impressed. So, ever since then, I’ve been taking the long path around any recipes that entail using an electric mixer. But I knew that I’d have to get one someday – there were just too many recipes in my must-cook files that were getting ignored otherwise.
So, last Thursday when I decided that I simply HAD to make Julie Le Clerc’s Chocolate Ripple Sliver Cake for Friday night’s dinner, I had no time to make a well-considered purchase, instead legging it into cheap household goods store Argos and picked up the Kenwood HM310 Deluxe Handmixer. I don’t quite know what’s deluxe about it, but – although the engine didn’t sound too happy about mixing the chocolate part of the cake – it was still capable of doing the job.
While standing around the kitchen, beating the eggs/sugar mixture and waiting for it to turn “thick and pale” – it took so long, even with the electric mixer, that I would probably still be beating if I had tried to make it by hand – my mind and my eyes were roaming. I couldn’t resist adding some freshly grated nutmeg, to compliment the cream cheese topping, and, given that I love the flavour of orange with dark chocolate, the zest of an orange got thrown in there too.
This was one of the first times I’ve had a suitably decadent recipe to make the most of the 1kg bar of Fairtrade dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids) that I got from the Connoisseur’s Italian boyfriend who works in Amnesty and it was fantastic. It’s amazing chocolate and is available from Amnesty’s Freedom Café at 48 Fleet Street in Dublin’s Temple Bar – a great place for a cup of (Fairtrade) coffee and panini, incidentally.
And the cake? Julie isn’t joking – it is seriously rich. I easily got 16 slices out of it and we served with ice cream, strawberries and blackberries on the side, the Tax Advisor’s contribution to last week’s dinner. What little was left over after desert disappeared between that night’s drinking and breakfast the next morning. It’s always a good sign of a cake when there’s nothing but crumbs left the following day. This is also a flourless cake so is perfect – given that you make sure your cream cheese is gluten free and, as far as I know, the Philadelphia brand is – you can happily serve it to all your coeliac and gluten-intolerant friends.
Chocolate Ripple Sliver Cake
Cream cheese – 250g, softened to room temperature
Sugar – 2/3 cup
Egg – 1, large
Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
Butter – 150g, roughly cubed
Good quality dark chocolate – 300g, roughly chopped
Eggs – 3, large
Sugar – 1/3 cup
Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon, freshly grated
Salt – 1 pinch
Orange – 1, zested
Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin and line base with non-stick baking paper.
Put cream cheese and sugar for the topping in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add egg and vanilla mix thoroughly. Place to one side.
To make the batter, place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt gently over a saucepan of simmering water, or in the microwave, stirring until smooth.
Place the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in separate bowl and whisk, with an electric mixer, for five minutes until very thick and pale. Add the orange zest and gradually pour the melted chocolate into the bowl, gently whisking to combine.
Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared cake tin with alternate spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture. Push the tip of a blunt knife into the batter and swirl it around to form marble patterns on the cake surface.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the edges have risen and set but the centre is still slightly gooey. Remove and allow to cool in the cake tin. Once cold, carefully remove from tin and discard baking paper. Use a hot knife to cut the cake, wiping the blade clean between slices. Serve cut thinly. Serves 16.