Therapy Kitchen

Surprises and Layers: Black Forest Bonfire Gateaux

Black Forest Gateaux is my better half’s favourite, and its pretty up there in cake rating for me too

(tbh, I think all the best cakes are German in origin). This version came about as I wanted to make enough to celebrate the man’s 49th birthday. She fully came of age as my 50th birthday gift for dear pal ‘Sister Shell’ where she had to ‘feed the 5000’ with enough glitz and glamour befitting the lovely Shelley.

Crowned the Queen of Clubs, she’s my disco diva recipe – all about the delicious fun of my favourite things, people and flavours. If you’ve got chocolate, cream and fruit in one place, making music with mousse and macaroon…. just mmmmm…. for the love of life inside this cake.

Each layer of this cake surprises as much as it delights, but its foundation is my favourite

Macaroon base:

  • 250g icing sugar

  • 125g ground almonds

  • 25g cocoa powder

  • 4 large egg whites

  • 25g caster sugar

How to do it: A Domestic Goddess recipe from Nigella – a trendy treat – love them!

  1. Put the oven on to 180′ (gas mark 4) and line baking sheet with baking paper.

  2. Sift together the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder.

  3. Whisk egg whites till nearly stiff (as for meringues – which is what you’re making here), sprinkle over the caster sugar and whisk again till falls from whisk into ‘mountain peaks’ (everything must be spanking clean to do this properly – I use lemon to clean bowl and whiskers. On this occasion I left it to the teen boy – lax – mistake – when it came to pouring out the snowy mountain peaks, underneath was a lake of unfixable egg white…

  4. With a metal spoon, gradually fold and mix in the dry ingredients into this spongy meringue mix.

  5. On this occasion it will form one large base, either square or round as you prefer, so spread onto baking sheet and bake for 12-15 mins (think about your oven, whether it cooks fast, hot or slow, is it fan or not – and time accordingly – you want this to be gooey, not dry as mine was this time as I failed to listen to the timer – arghh!)

Of course when you’re with me, you will be my favourite – as now goes for layer two – chocolate mousse (next to the whipped up cream, tangy fruit and crispy base, we taste what’s meant by a disco diva as she steps up a level dancing the Belgian Truffle, but in huge mouthfuls …OMG….)

What you will need:

  • 225g dark chocolate

  • 2 large eggs, separated

  • 225ml double cream

How to do it: hail Delia for this recipe that brought the Black Forest firmly back on the top table – here’s her stage one, ‘the filling’:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a ‘bain marie’ (glass bowl over saucepan of boiling water). Allow to cool down for a few minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, beat your egg whites (as above, make sure very clean bowl and whiskers) into soft mountain peaks (you lift the whisk through the mix and it forms into the alps).

  3. Now beat the egg yolks till thick and frothy – by this time your chocolate should have cooled down enough to mix them in without it curdling.

  4. Using a metal spoon cut and fold to mix the alpine egg whites into the chocolate to make a mousse.

  5. For mousse you leave this is fridge to set, but to spread easily onto your cake, it is often best to leave it out and use quite quickly.

For the sponge part, Delia is using a no-flour sponge in order to be able to roll it – tis a lovely light sponge, bit of a faff, but it’s so light next to the heavier layers, it works just beautifully, meltingly well.

You need:

  • baking sheet lined with baking paper (roughly 30cm x 20cm, or slightly bigger)

  • 6 large eggs separated

  • 150g caster sugar

  • 50g cocoa powder

How to do it:

  1. With very clean bowl and whisks (you’re used to this now), whisk egg whites into alpine peaks

  2. Now whisk egg yolks with caster sugar until thick and frothy.

  3. Fold in sifted cocoa powder into egg yolks.

  4. Carefully, with a metal spoon, mix in the alpine egg whites into the chocolatey – gradually to keep in as much air as possible.

  5. Bake in pre-heated oven (180′) for apx 20mins – it will be firm but springy to touch – it will be very puffy but soon deflates as it cools.

Putting the cake together – whisk some cream and stir into your mousse mix, if making the bonfire version. You now have 3 layers to build into a bonfire which you do by cutting and pasting them together. You then fire it up with mango, pomegranate seeds, raspberries – orange and red fruit flames, surrounded with matchmakers and flakes for bonfire notes. Indoor sparklers complete the effect. The only two photos I managed to snatch, grab and keep from ‘shy’ teens on the day of making, refuse to upload (sabotage?) Clearly, I will need to find another excuse to make it, and return my disco diva, Queen of Clubs to her preferred Black Forest Gown.

The full story… Who is She?

In this scheme, the suit of Clubs hail from the winter season. This is when we might look in our cupboard, find it all but bare and have beans on toast, fish finger jambouri or brimming ready to make festive treats – it’s a season of chance and luck, scraping by or full-on party fun. Cue the Queen of Clubs, who only needs to hear the word “party” and the tunes are up, the lipstick’s on and shoes are tapping … She’s probably the most talented of all the Queens, keeping the fires burning despite the drizzle, winds and mist, making do with meagre supplies, dark and dreary moods. So hearing the chance to party, she gathers her skirts and skills together, in a series of surprising layers of sensual delights.

We can be forgiven for thinking her brilliance knows no bounds, donning her disco diva gown, dancing with ease wherever she is. However, she’s too smart to be seduced by glorification, and will chide with a rueful smile, that she only does what she’s good at! Leaving Jacks, Kings, Eights, Threes – whoever else – to cleverly manage where she cannot. This is the strength of our Queen of Clubs: knowing who she is, happy in her skin, she loves to share that delicious dance ‘to your own tune in time’.