Wednesday, 28 November 2012

CHOCOLATE AND ALMOND CAKE



Last year, at Christmas time, a friend of my sister in law made this cake that we were so lucky to taste. It was wonderful and I immediately asked her for the recipe. She said it was a recipe that her family had been passing on for generations. It seems very simple, but it is very important to chop the ingredients in the right way, they don't have to be neither too small nor too big. I've tried to replicate it a couple of times and it has been successful among family and friends. It is best accompanied by vanilla custard or whipped cream.


Ingredients:
 
200 g icing sugar
5 eggs
200 g  margarine (or butter, but you get best results with margarine)
A pinch of baking powder
250 g almonds (with skin)
10  Morning coffee biscuits ( Waitrose or Sainsbury)
200 g dark chocolate
 

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.

Melt the margarine in the microwave then let it cool ( I usually put it in the freezer for a few minutes, but be careful it doesn't freeze, it just needs to cool).

Chop the almonds in a food porcessor, but be careful they don't become a powder.

Chop the biscuits: I put them in a plastic bag and crack them using a meat mallet or a full bottle.

Cut the chocolate using a sharp knife. The pieces have to be even smaller than the ones in the picture.    



Beat the eggs with the sugar for several minutes, until the volume has doubled.
             
Now add the almonds to the mixture, then the biscuits, the baking powder, the chocolate and the margarine. Mix well with a wooden spoon after you add every ingredient.                                                                                                                             
Now pour the mixture in a baking tin and cook for about 30/40 minutes.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

TORTA DELLA NONNA ( GRANDMOTHER'S CAKE)


This ia a typical Italian dessert, traditionally from Tuscany. It's basically a custard pie with pine nuts. Not the quickest cake to make, but, if you like custard, it's worth it. It's really lovely.


Ingredients for a  22 cm cake tin

450 g flour
3 eggs
150 g sugar
150 g butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 
1 teaspoon baking powder
25 g pine nuts
icing sugar to decorate


For the custard

4 yolks
40 g cornflour
100 g sugar
400 ml milk
1 piece lemon peel 
1/2 vanilla pod
 


Mix flour, lemon peel and sugar, then work the butter in with the tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Add the egg and yolks and work briefly until the dough just holds together. It is important not to overwork the dough or it will harden when baked.

Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the custard.

Bring the milk, lemon zest and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat. Remove the vanilla pod and the lemon zest.

Whisk the yolk and sugar together in a pan until well blended then add the flour.

Pour the hot milk on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk.

Return to the hob and over a medium/high heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until thickened. When boiling take it off the heat, stir well and bring it back again on the heat. Do this two or three times.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
 
When the pastry has rested in the refrigerator, divide in two, and delicately roll out one half slightly larger than the tart dish (approx 1 cm/half inch thickness).
 
Pour on the custard.
 
Roll out the remaining pastry dough and place on top of the custard, closing the pie.
 
Decorate with pine nuts (pour some milk on them beforehand, so they won't burn in the oven). Try not to handle the pastry too much at this stage.
 
Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
 
Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.