For the September We Should Cocoa challenge Chele of Chocolate Teapot has decided that we should celebrate the first birthday of We Should Cocoa. I was thinking of making a cake but that didn’t seem like a celebration somehow – after all, I’ve made cakes for other entries in the challenge. I was struggling to think of something different when my wife suggested this torta.
This feels like a celebratory dessert to me because it’s not only delicious and seasonal, it’s also just that bit out of the ordinary (well, actually, it seems downright odd when you look at the list of ingredients) . The finished torta is thin, very moist, fairly delicate, not too sweet and tastes properly grown up. Not obviously suitable for a first birthday party, perhaps, but I’ve very little experience with 1 year olds, I'm afraid.
There are a number of different variations on this torta but this version is essentially a Sophie Grigson recipe from the late 1980’s. I’m assuming that you know relatively restrained people, in which case this will serve around 8 of them.
2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
175 g pumpkin (weigh chunks of the flesh with no seeds or skin)
80 g caster sugar
2 tbsp milk
60 g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
60 g amaretti biscuits (not the soft ones), crushed into small pieces but not to a powder
60 g semi-dried figs, finely chopped
30 g sultanas
½ tbsp cocoa powder
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp vanilla extract or paste
2 tbsp brandy
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Grease and line a 23 cm cake or tart tin. This doesn’t have to be deep but one with a loose bottom will make life a lot easier. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Place the apple slices in a saucepan with half the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. Thinly slice the pumpkin flesh, place in a separate saucepan with the remaining sugar and the milk. Cover the saucepans and gently simmer both pans until the apple and pumpkin are softened but not falling apart. Depending on the type of apple and pumpkin, this will probably take between 10 and 15 minutes.
Pour all the contents of both saucepans into a bowl and allow them to cool just a little. Add the rest of the ingredients, one at a time and in the order given, stirring thoroughly between each addition. (The residual heat should melt the chocolate but the mix should be cool enough by the time of the last addition to not scramble the eggs).
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth it over. Tap the tin on the worktop a couple of times to remove any air bubbles. Bake in the oven until set and reasonably firm in the centre – this will probably take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on how much liquid the apples and pumpkin produced.
Allow the torta to cool for a short time in the tin but remove it (carefully) while it’s still a little warm. The torta is best served cold.
I’m hopeless at remembering to celebrate special events such as National Chocolate Cake Week (is there one?) or my birthday or whatever there is, but I can’t believe I forgot to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day this week. Oh, the shame of it. Maybe I should have made a torta with rum instead. This is my favourite pirate song at the moment, by the way.
Happy Birthday We Should Cocoa.