Filling a loved one's belly with food they enjoy is up there on my list of ways to show affection. It's something I don't get to do often enough (one of my excuses for the paucity of posts to my poor neglected blog, but not the only one). It only seemed fitting therefore that I rustle something up for my adored father's 70th birthday, a treat that would combine two of his favourite sweet foods - dark chocolate and prunes.
So here it is, my version of David Lebovitz's Chocolate and Prune Cake, Wilkinson style.
For the prunes:
179g pitted prunes, diced into small pieces (I use scissors, much easier and less messy than a knife)
80ml Amaretti (rum, brandy or an other such fire water would work equally well)
1 tbs sugar
For the cake:
170g dark chocolate - I used 75% cocoa content
170 unsalted butter, cubed
6 large eggs, separated
large pinch of salt
3 tbs granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 165 C / 325 F. Butter a 9 inch/23cm springform cake tin. Dust the inside with cocoa powder or flour and tap at any excess.
2. Simmer the prunes with the Amaretti and 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan for a few minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
3. Break the chocolate into pieces into a heatproof bowl and sit it above a pan of simmering water along with the butter. Stir it now and again until smooth. Remove carefully (use oven gloves else you'll scald yourself, ouch). Stir in the prunes with any liquid from their pan.
4. Stir the egg yolks into the chocolate and prune mixture.
5. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they start to hold soft peaks. Carry on whisking, adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds its shape in peaks when you lift the whisk out.
6. Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites. The moment you can no longer see any streaks of white you are done. Don't over do it!
7. Bake the cake in the middle of oven for 40-45 minutes - until the centre of the cake is still a little soft to the touch and it appears set at the edges of the pan.
8. Let the cake cool in the tin. When ready to release its gorgeousness, dip a knife in hot water and then run it around the inside of the cake tin before unclipping the spring.
I admit the picture is not the best. But I have it on good authority that it tasted damned fine!