turkish chocolate torte

turkish chocolate torteWithout a doubt this is my favourite cake. It also becomes the favourite cake of anyone who tries it when I make one.

the cake:
6 egg whites
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 cup (125g) almond meal
500 g halva, roughly chopped
150 g pitted dates, chopped
Grated zest of 2 oranges
120 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (60ml) brandy

chocolate ganache:
100 ml pure (thin) cream
150 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

decorations to serve:
2 tablespoons edible dried rose petals (optional)
2 tablespoons slivered pistachios
4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Small mint sprigs

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 24cm springform cake pan with baking paper. Beat egg whites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly, then beat for 5 minutes or until thick and glossy.

Fold in almond meal, halva, dates, zest and chocolate until just combined. Spoon mixture into the cake pan, then bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until dry and firm to the touch (the cake will still be moist in the centre when tested with a skewer).

While hot, poke several holes in the top of the cake with a skewer. Pour brandy over cake, then cool completely in the pan.

Meanwhile, for the glaze, place cream and chocolate in a pan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stand for 30 minutes or until a thick pouring consistency.

Remove the cooled cake from the pan, transfer to a platter and pour over the chocolate glaze, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with rose petals, nuts, pomegranate seeds and mint.

Recipe: Valli Little

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a reflection: teenage mutant ninja turtles and what you look for in a life partner

As a young girl with a VHS player, I always fancied Donatello more than the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve come to realise that it says a lot about what I look for in a man. On reflection I see, I have always been more attracted to a quiche man than to a cave man.

Leonardo wears a blue mask and a burden of responsibility like a prized possession to nurture. He’s career driven, focused, dedicated… but when is he coming home?

Raphael is a strongman. He has a forceful nature. Some might say he’s a dark and swarthy guy. He can sit alone at the bar, but not necessarily because he wants to.

The free-spirited comedian of the group is Michelangelo. He’s an adventurer. He’s eating pizza from the box and living in the now, dude.

As the engineer, inventor and wordsmith of the group, Donatello uses the power of his smarts. He doesn’t seek the limelight, but the limelight finds him for his less brash achievements.

While Michelangelo made David famous, it was Donatello that broke with tradition and pioneered nude sculpture. He showed us that it’s not all about men with muscles; that a young man can take down a giant just with intellect and a great sun hat.

Brains beats brawn in the eyes of this fair maiden. And so, on Donatello’s behalf because he wouldn’t say it himself, I believe the caption shall read, “So there!

Donatello's David

 

image: Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Donatello), David (1440)

put me out to pasta

chilli soup breakfastThere was time when I would travel through Asia eating bowls of chilli. I would slurp chilli soup for breakfast. The steaming bowl of fire would fizzle my nose hairs and make me weep. I was in my own little burning hot heaven.

More recently I have developed a digestive sensitivity that has changed my eating habits. I still test the boundaries but often regret it later, “whoa, Fajita-repeater!!”

The list of foods that my body tells me to avoid grows… spicy foods, fried foods – pretty obvious so far but then add, pepper, oranges, salt, some meats, capsicum, onion, garlic…

On a recent trip to Indonesia I realised that my burning-by-the-seat-of-my-pants travelling days are numbered. This change to my eating habits may have a significant impact on my travelling style of mixing with the locals over a shared plate.

Gone are the days of Chinese Miscellaneous Animal-product Soup in a village where you are clearly the minority. Each spoonful was a game of “what part of a chicken is that?!”.

Gone are the days of plates piled high with stir-fried chillies in an alley restaurant. I recall a dish described to me as “corn with chilli” where the corn kernels were used as the garnish.  

It’s pushing 40 degrees in this little café off a dirty street in Indonesia. The humidity isn’t high today; there isn’t enough moisture in the air to settle the dust churned up by passing scooters. My order of ‘grilled chicken with vegetables’ is served to me as pepper crusted chicken pieces, with a side of mostly raw capsicum, garlic and onion. There is a garnish, a slice of carrot cut into the shape of a flower sits on the side of the plate. I poke at the carrot that has been recycled from the previous diner’s plate wondering statistically how many people may have handled this piece of carrot and if they washed their hands. I pick at the chicken to try to extract some of the inner pepper-less meat.

My husband scoffs down his lovely looking lemongrass and chilli curry. He’s telling me how wonderful it is. Sweat is dripping off his cheeks. I’m hungry. I start fantasising about a bowl of pasta. I think about a trip to Italy where I could eat salads without fear.

It has become clear to me, I’m not what I used to be. It’s time I was put out to pasta.

In another time, I look around the room searching for clues and then back to my Miscellaneous Soup. The bustling people around us have the benefit of knowing the local language. I look down at my spoon, “…maybe that’s not even a part of a chicken…”