Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Memories are made of... chocolate

I made an exciting discovery this weekend. A really exciting discovery.

Finding myself at a loss for something to do on Sunday afternoon, I decided to try to organise a recipe folder I've been keeping for years. You know the kind: one that's crammed full of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers as well as things you've scribbled from friends and websites.

Hours were to pass as I ooh-ed and aah-ed over recipes I'd long since forgotten. Vodka and lime jellies, my friend's mum's banana bread and then...

Then, I found THIS:

A recipe that I thought I'd lost years ago.
A recipe whose loss I've lamented all those years.
A - no, THE - recipe for chocolate torte.

This was the torte I'd drooled over for the entire summer of 1999 when I worked as a waitress in a restaurant in Dingle. The torte I'd steal slivers from when nobody was looking. The torte I finally convinced the chef to reveal the recipe for.

I was to make this torte over and over again until I lost the recipe, eventually forgot about it and started to make other chocolate creations in its place.

The elation at finding this recipe was immediately followed by doubt. Would this torte be as good as I remembered? We all know that memories are fickle and can play cruel tricks on us. More importantly (and likely), the 19-year-old me probably wasn't as demanding in her tastes as the 33-year-old me is.

There was only one thing for it. I'd have to try it and see.

So, I went to the shops yesterday in search of liquid glucose (a gloopy sweetener that I've only ever used in this particular torte and which used to only be available from chemists but is now to be found in most big supermarkets) and this morning, I put the torte to the test.

Here's the recipe:
225g digestive biscuits
60g unsalted butter
1 pint/475ml double cream
1 lb/450g chocolate (I used one with 70% cocoa solids)
1 tbsp glucose syrup (I know the recipe above specifies 2 but 1 seemed more than enough. Chefs don't always know everything, you know!)
5tbsp Baileys (you can add slightly more or less depending on your taste)

  • To make the biscuit base, melt the butter and crush the biscuits.

  • You can do this by blitzing them in the food processor or, if you don't have a food processor, you can crush them in a pestle and mortar or with a rolling pin.

  • Line the base of a tart or springform tin that is 25cm in diameter with the crushed biscuits and bake in a 180 degree (356F or gas mark 4) oven for 8 mins. Set aside to cool.

  • Break the chocolate into chunks and melt. I do this in the microwave (for 30 seconds at a time) or you can also do it by placing the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bowl isn't touching the water).

  • When melted, stir in the liquid glucose and the Baileys. The liquid glucose will completely transform the texture of the chocolate, making it much thicker and more set.

  • Lightly whip the cream and then add it to the chocolate, whisking until you get a texture like this:

  • Spoon this on to your biscuit layer. Smooth the surface. Place in the fridge to chill and spend the next hour or so twiddling your thumbs as you wonder just how delicious it's going to taste (you may decide to skip that last step but I certainly didn't!)

  • When you take it out of the fridge, go around the inside of the tin with a knife and ease the torte out of the tin. I used a knife I had warmed in a cup of boiling water to make this easier.

  • Then, I sat down, poured myself a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea (my tea of choice to go with cake) and, full of trepidation, took my first bite...

    Did it live up to my expectations? Excuse me while I resort to text speak here but: OMG, it did. Rich, unctuous, melt in the mouth, chocolately goodness with a undertone of Baileys. It brought me right back to my waitressing, chocolate torte-scoffing days.
    You must all make this torte. It's so simple and you can ring the changes by adding chopped hazelnuts to the base or alternating the Baileys with Cointreau and highlighting the citrus notes by mixing some orange zest into the crushed biscuits. That's what I'm planning to do next time.
    But for now, I still have this torte to savour. It's what memories are made of.


      1. I'm going to have to make this immediately!

      2. Nancy,
        You really should. I am in my office right now eating some and thanking my lucky stars I have to leave the house for work soon otherwise I would eat the entire thing!