Monday, August 27, 2012

Here's mud cake in your eye

White chocolate mud cake with chilli chocolate ganache (D's birthday cake). Aside from the sweet potato brownies below, I can count on the tines of a fork the number of times I've baked a cake in the last 10 years, so I was inordinately pleased with how this one came out. It's soft as can be when freshly baked but by day two it has developed a fudgy consistency and the ganache is no longer quite as pleasingly shiny. It still tastes pretty wonderful, though.

The recipes all suggest using white chocolate for the ganache, but I thought this might lead to sickliness overkill, so I experimented with chilli chocolate instead, in a mostly successful attempt to provide an interesting counterpoint to what's inside.

White chocolate mud cake
300g white chocolate (I used Whittaker's white chocolate)
200g butter
250ml (1 cup) milk
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g (2/3 cup) self-raising flour
150g (1 cup) plain flour
  •  Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • Grease a 20cm square cake pan and line the base and sides of the pan with baking paper.
  • Place chocolate, butter, milk and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when chocolate and butter have melted, and stir mixture until completely smooth. Allow mixture to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and eggs to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined. ©
  • Stir flours together in a large bowl. Add one cup of chocolate mixture to the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms.
  • Add remaining chocolate mixture and stir until mixture is smooth.
  • Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. When the cake is ready, a fine-bladed knife inserted into the centre of the cake should come out without any batter attached.
  • Loosely cover cake with greaseproof paper or a clean tea towel and allow it to cool to room temperature in pan.
  • The cooled cake can be iced with the white chocolate ganache immediately (see directions below), or stored and then iced on the day of serving.
  • Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. 

Chilli chocolate ganache
200g Lindt chilli chocolate
88g double cream
  • Melt chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently. When chocolate has completely melted, remove from heat and quickly stir in cream. Use immediately.   

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stop on red

Lest anyone think that the experience of having a baby has caused all thoughts of the shallow to fly clean out of my head, may I present to you a long overdue visit to style dreamland, in the shape of the following:

Bag, Alexander McQueen; Dress, Michael Kors; Shoes, Christian Louboutin, all at Net-a-Porter

Monday, August 13, 2012

Claire de lune

My sister Claire and I went to see the Éric Rohmer film Les nuits de la pleine lune ("Full Moon in Paris") in Edinburgh in 1984, when it came out. I was very impressed by the quirky glamour of Pascale Ogier, the star, and her skinny chic, left bank, all-in-black style. Pascale was 10 years older than me and was immediately elevated to the category of impossible beauties whose apparenty effortless life I'd have loved to emulate (see also Béatrice Dalle). Not long after the film was released, Pascale died at the age of 25 of a heart attack caused by a drug overdose. I heard about it at the time, but so successfully did I translate this into a more romantic cause of death (a brain hemorrhage, of course) that only when I was looking for information about her this year did I rediscover the grubby truth.

I'm not sure why she came to mind but when Claire recently visited us in Melbourne we discussed this film again. Sadly, I remember very little about the plot or anyone else in it. The main thing that springs to mind when I think of the film, and of poor Pascale, is that it has gifted me with the steadfast conviction that the French can't dance. In my defence, I present the following: