Happy Birthday Blog…

Hi world - this is the very first post from my kitchen HQ for my new blog The Food Union.

I have been thinking that to start blog life on the right foot, this 
e-birth should have a cake to celebrate. So after lengthy deliberation on recipes I've made a decision, and want to start as I mean to go on. Weight Watchers can always start tomorrow.  This recipe is for an extra special, super rich, decadent, over the top chocolate cake, and comes from one of my all time favourite cookbooks called the Silver Palate Cookbook.

The Silver Palate, run by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, was the ultimate foodie paradise on New York’s Upper West Side during the 1980’s. Over the years these women and their recipes inspired New Yorkers to try something fresh, new, and different. The shop at Columbus Ave & 73rd St was tiny at a 156 sq feet, but was jam packed with a vast range of Silver Palate condiments and freshly made food. I use to make the trip across Central Park every weekend from my apartment to visit this amazing deli and stock up on their glorious food. And yes the store did look like the picture on the cover of the book - just amazing to see. Unfortunately the Silver Palate is no longer open, and sadly Sheila passed away in 2009. So in memory of Sheila and the Silver Palate I've made this cake for my blog e-birthday.

At this stage, before you get all excited and go mad in the kitchen, I do feel the need to issue a health warning. This is not your standard garden variety chocolate cake - this is a cake for the serious chocoholics amongst us so consume in moderation.

Adapted from a recipe by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso - Silver Palate Cookbook
4 eggs separated
1 c granulated sugar
113 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
170 g butter 
170 g dark chocolate (for icing)
1 cup plus 1 tblspn flour
¼ tspn salt
3 tblspn finely ground skinned hazelnuts
chopped hazelnuts for decoration

Beat egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale. Meanwhile, melt 113 g of thechocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, whisking constantly until smooth. Cool slightly.

Pre heat oven to 175°C. Grease an 8 inch spring form pan (or two smaller pans if you want a higher cake), and line bottom with baking paper. Lightly flour lining and sides of pan.

Pour the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the egg mixture, and stir just to blend. Fold in flour, salt and ground hazelnuts. Whip egg whites until stiff and fold gently into batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan(s), and rap the pan(s) lightly to eliminate air bubbles. Set on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 mins or until edges are firm and inside is set, but still somewhat soft (requires less time if fan baked or using 2 pans). Cool in pan on cake rack for 1 hour, remove pan sides and cool to room temperature. 

When cool invert onto cake plate, slice into layers and fill alternately with the hazelnut and chocolatebuttercreams. Refrigerate for 30 mins. Melt remaining chocolate in double boiler. Remove cake from fridge and drizzle top and sides with the melted chocolate, work quickly before chocolate sets. 

Decorate the top with chopped hazelnuts. Prepare at least an hour before serving.

- Toast, skin, & grind hazelnuts for both the cake and buttercream together.
- The cake can be frozen before filling with the buttercreams or choclate icing.

Hazelnut Buttercream
1¼ c shelled hazelnuts
3 tblspn brandy
1 c icing sugar (sifted)
57 g butter, softened
5 tblspn golden syrup or maple syrup (or mix of both)
Toast hazelnuts on baking sheet in a 175°C oven for 5 – 10 mins, or until the skins have loosened. Remove from oven, and rub in a clean tea towel to remove skins. Grind nuts finely in a food processor. 

Scrape nuts into a bowl and stir in maple/golden syrup and brandy. Let sit for 20 mins (can be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Return to room temp when icing cake). Cream icing sugar and butter until light and fluffy, add ground hazelnuts and mix thoroughly.

Chocolate Buttercream
220 g dark chocolate (melted)
1¼ c icing sugar (sifted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
225 g butter, softened
1 tblspn cream

Beat the butter, icing sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with electric better until smooth. Add melted chocolate, beat to combine.

All Images © Deborah Aspray - Motif Lifestyle Images Ltd 2012


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