January 9, 2013

Varieties of short


PamAdams wrote:

I would quit checking for your posts every day, but you keep posting!

Yes, but they’re about half length.  I still haven’t got round to the Future of the Blog post—being easily distracted hasn’t changed—but it includes, among other SHORT things, reverting to having more recipes.

And today, when I’m crazy-stupid-tired* I thought I’d post the sort of recipe you need when you’re banging, or perhaps whimpering, over the final corrections of a novel, overdue optional.**  Also, I adore corn/maize in nearly all its incarnations.  Cornmeal and CHOCOLATE?  Be still my heart.

This is adapted from UNWRAPPED, which is Green & Black’s cookbook.  Really.  And, as you would hope, it is chocolate porn of the highest quality.

Polenta Chocolate Cake

Okay, I haven’t exactly converted, but I do now have a nice small neat digital kitchen scales, and . . . I use it.  So I don’t always recalibrate to American measurements.***  Also, there are now converters EVERYWHERE.  Those of you with reliable internet connections can go on line.  I have several converters on Pooka, because I am indecisive, easily confused and inclined to assume that the next one will be the best—and most aps are so engagingly cheap you can afford to be silly.  PLUS there are aps specifically for kitchenware and cooking ingredients.  Even if I do still tend to measure by handfuls and what stuff looks like.

8 oz dark chocolate, preferably G&B’s own either 70% or—recommended—the blow-your-socks-off 85% cocoa solids dark chocolate, which is intense.  I find it a little too intense for plain eating but the sock-blowing thing happens when you bake with it.

125g (4 ½ oz) good quality slightly salted butter

5 large eggs, separated

150g (5 oz) granulated sugar.  The original recipe calls for caster, which is finer-grained.  I like granulated, which seems to me to leave a faint residue of grittiness even after baking, although I may be hallucinating this.

100g (3 ½ oz) polenta.  Again, the original recipe stipulates fine.  In my experience this cake doesn’t really rise anyway, it falls.  It’s going to be gooey and sticky whatever you do.  I like the slight grittiness of not-quite-fine polenta.  All those eggs will stop it from being heavy, so if you like gritty, go for not-quite-fine.  I also prefer yellow to white.  This may also be hallucination but I think the yellow has a stronger flavour.

The original recipe also calls for rum.  Feh.  I like rum, in its place, but this isn’t its place.  I use about two tsps of good vanilla—and I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, but you all remember my doodah about GOOD vanilla, right?  None of this vanilla flavouring scam.  Get the real thing.

The original recipe tells you to butter and flour a 10” deep-sided springform cake tin.  I don’t.  This is going to be STICKY so I want it shallow so I can get it out better.  Springform is fine but I don’t think they make shallow springform?  Dunno.  But you could have chocolate-polenta goo all over your counter if you took the sides off too soon.  I use an ordinary big flat cake tin, butter and flour it AND THEN line with parchment paper and butter and flour again.

Melt the chocolate and butter in your bain-marie, let cool, vigorously beat in egg yolks one at a time, and then beat in about half the sugar.  It should be so gorgeously thick and creamy you have trouble not saying ‘bag the polenta’ and eating it as is.†

Beat the egg whites with the rest of the sugar.  You want it as airy as possible but as I say, this cake is going to fall so don’t kill yourself over this.

Stir the polenta and vanilla into the chocolate mixture.††

Finally ‘fold in’ the egg whites as the cookbooks always say, like this is going to work. You do want to preserve as much of the air and structure as possible, but it is going to collapse, so don’t let this disturb you.  Stir gently, till it’s shiny and homogenous.

Pour, still gently, into the cake pan, smooth the top, and bake at 350F/180C.  The original recipe says 40 minutes, but it’s supposing a deep-sided pan.  Because I am a twit, I have not written down how long I expect it to take.  I’d guess about half an hour.  It will change colour and look like it’s trying to turn into a cake . . . but as I say, think sticky.  Then take it out of the oven and let sit FOR A VERY LONG TIME.  Unless you want chocolate-cornmeal soup.  Not that this is a bad thing.†††  It WILL SINK as it cools.  Not to worry.

Dust it with icing sugar.  Then cut it up kindly and patiently into squarish globs.

* * *

* I don’t know why^, but I hope it goes away.  Like, now.

^ I mean, sure, I’m tying myself in knots over the last tweaks and twiddles on SHADOWS but I do this writing foolishness for a living.  I should be used to it.  Maybe I’m just dreading the copyediting stage.+

+ Yes.

** And my angelic editor gave me a few days’ grace.  Thursday was going to be hard.  Monday is fabulous.

***  Thus forcing British and Australian and various other non-American readers to convert back.

†And if your eggs are fresh and from nice clean hens, I wouldn’t say you were wrong.

†† And taste again.  You know you want to.  If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be making this in the first place.

††† See:  eating the batter before you put it in the cake pan.


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