I do rather like the energy and promise, admittedly utterly unfounded, that a new year ushers in.
Not just the promise of another 365 days of cake. Nor the making of optimistic resolutions which, deep down, you really know are overwhelming, overrated (and over by the second week of January).
But the idea of a blank slate. New beginning. An entire year of the unknown. It's all quite exciting really. I promise this isn't the bit where I leap up, book a one-way rickshaw ticket to Timbuktu, dynamic, go-getting YOLO style while leaving spatulas and sieves in my wake.
Of course, bleak, storm-ravaged, broke January with its Blue Monday and Dryathalon is doing it's very best to deter such enthusiasm. But in the manner of an elderly pensioner feeling it in her bones when the weather turns, I've a sense this year will be a good 'un*. Mainly because we began by tucking into this gloriously, rich, decadent Winter Chocolate Cake. Spoons at the ready....
Seriously Rich Winter Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
225g unsalted butter
350g dark 70% chocolate, chopped into gravel sized pieces
225g caster sugar
6 large eggs
3 balls of stem ginger, drained and finely chopped
100g plain flour
For the ganache:
142ml double cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped into gravel sized pieces
1 tbsp caster sugar
For the decoration:
Selection of leaves, herbs and berries, e.g. holly, cranberries, bay leaves, rosemary
3 tbsps caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/Gas Mark 3. Line and grease a 23cm/9inch springform cake tin with grease proof parchment
2. Melt the butter in a large pan over a gently heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate.
3. Gradually in the sugar, followed by the eggs and ginger. Gently fold in the flour and a pinch of salt
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60minutes. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out slightly sticky. Cool in the tin for five minutes before inverting onto a. Wire rack to cool completely
5. Meanwhile, make the ganache: heat the cream and sugar in a pan over a gently heat until just before boiling point. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted a smooth. Cool for a few minutes before spreading over the cake. Leave to set
6. To make the (non edible) decoration: gently wash the leaves and berries, drying with kitchen roll. Place the egg white white and sugar into separate shallow bowls. Dip each leaf and berry in the egg white, followed by the caster sugar and set aside to dry. Decorate the cake by placing the leaves and berries in the centre
- Without the ganache and decoration, this cake will freeze well for up to three months
- It is adapted from a recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine, circa 2007
- Apologies if you are on a diet and currently attempting to lick this page in despair
* entirely irrationally. I'm not Mystic Meg and, sorry, haven't a clue about this weekend's lottery numbers.