Sunday, 27 November 2016

Pigeon... sorry, Kiwi. Apparently. Also, introducing the chocolate squidge cake.

Oh look, it's a Palmers Green Kiwi.
Apols to Stephen, obscured by beak.
"We're not doing Christmas Jumpers this year," Said Jan. "The theme is New Zealand." Because, she explained, two of the group were going on holiday there. 

"I've never served pigeon before." I joked, tediously, as Jan shuffled in. "It's a Kiwi!" She put me rightpushing her beak out of the way, the sweat beading on her brow. Clad in several layers of foam and nylon she downed a cooling glass of Prosecco. The hire shop didn't have any actual Antipodean fauna, so we were informed we'd just have to use our damned imaginations. Someone suggested Jan looked like a baby kiwi. Hmmm. More imagination needed maybe?

We kicked off the evening with some kiwi fruit cocktails. That helped our creative thinking.

Following the pigeon kiwi, came sheep, some rugby players, several Orcs (I think, they are hard to tell from Vulcans in a North London dinner party), a Maori tattooed lady and a dark bobbed wig (all black). This is a group that takes their themes seriously, and rightly so. No point being a dabbler. A bird in the hand, etc.

It was a splendid evening.

Starters of French gnocchi with pickled pear and goats cheese cream (pictured left or above, or wherever Blogger decides to place it. It usually goes its own way). A split mains of either lamb shank or my roast veg layer bake. The palate cleanser was an ice of green tea and mint with a little bourbon syrup and I'd like to celebrate a double achievement here. Not only did I log the recipe as I made it so I can finally blog it (link coming soon), I also managed to take a decent photo of the finished result. Normally I take a 'taste it and see' approach which means I start from ignorance when I need a new batch.

And then dessert of chocolate... ah yes... dessert. 

Serving honeycomb ice cream on top of chocolate cakes. I really wanted to push the limits of my little chocolate fudge cakes. I was concerned they weren't moist enough. I tweaked the recipe - additional egg yolks - and reduced the baking time - 12 minutes. They looked great, felt firm. I turned the first one out, with maybe a little too much force, to watch it collapse through my fingers, the middle still molten. It seemed I had pushed 'fudginess' right into fondant. But Etien, caught it, ate it and declared it 'delicious' so we let them sit for a while to firm up before turning out the rest with a tad more deftness. They just held. Our guests also loved them. You realise after much baking that's there's a continuum of cakes. It looks like this:
Mousse > fondant > brownie > fudge cake > cake > cookie > biscuit.
Ours is somewhere between fondant and brownie. At least it will be when I bake it for 13 minutes. Let's call it the Squidge Cake.

Not really the Platonic image of cake is it?
I didn't serve this one.
New River Chocolate Squidge Cake
Makes 14 x 7cm cakes (about the size of a muffin).

Cream 250g of soft unsalted butter with 250g caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in four large eggs and four more egg yolks. Mix in 200g self raising flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, a big pinch of salt and 70g of cocoa powder (I use Valrhona). 

Butter a 7cm hole cake tin. A large muffin tin will be fine. Half fill the moulds. Bake on the middle shelf at 180°C for 13 minutes. I say 13 but you'll have to determine your own. It will vary depending on your oven. You should be able to see some molten mix bubble up if you make a hole in the top of one. Leave to cool for at least ten minutes then gently (GENTLY) turn out.

Baked for thirteen minutes. What a difference sixty seconds makes.

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