Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve Down Under

Following a tradition established years ago in our family, we tend to make an exciting and rather gourmet meal for Christmas Eve, usually trying out something new, often related to the region we're in. In France, we had bouillabaisse, in Norway, reindeer, and here of course, we have kangaroo!

Starters are a selection of oysters au nature, with parsley, lemon, Tabasco and Pernod ready to add. Even mum bravely downed a couple, and we enjoyed a few glasses of bubbly to go with.

Next came the kangaroo, which we seared on the BBQ for just 50 seconds per side, leaving it beautifully rare and tender. We served it on a bed of lentils, bacon and parsley, with our 'classic' (i.e. we've been making it every Christmas for three years now) red pepper & pomegranate salad, and mashed potatoes with mustard.

To finish, we had a delicious flourless chocolate cake, the recipe for which I googled around for until I found something that looked almost right.

I should have taken a better photo, as it was an absolutely wonderful cake, moist and delicate, with a delicious almondy aroma from the almond meal. But we certainly couldn't have decorated it, as it was very rich and needed to be served with nothing more than a cup of strong coffee. Next time I make it, I'll try to get a nice photo of a single slice with a strawberry or other cheeky photographic aid for contrast. In the meantime, here's the recipe, which we found served 12, rather than 8!

  • 1 tbsp of strong coffee
  • 100g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature (eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
  • 170g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 200g almond meal (ground almonds)

Make a espresso for your tablespoon of strong coffee. Drink any leftovers.

Grease the side and base of a 20cm diameter (inside top measurement) round, preferably springform, cake pan. Line base and side of the pan with non-stick baking paper. (Mum showed me an awesome method for this; I must post photographs next time I do it.) 

Place butter, chocolate, vanilla and coffee in a pyrex bowl and microwave, stirring every minute, for five minutes, or until chocolate and butter have melted. Set aside to cool.

Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, taking care not to break the yolks. Using electric hand-held beaters or an electric mixer, beat egg whites with about half the sugar in a large, clean bowl. Beat until soft peak stage (when the beater is lifted, a peak will form and then droop over). Or slightly more, if you're not ready with the other stage.

Gently fold the yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture. Break up any lumps of almond meal before stirring it into the chocolate mixture. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture and fold gently to combine, stopping as soon as you can see no further large pockets of pure egg white. (Don't burst all of the lovely bubbles!)

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cover with a clean tea towel, allowing it to cool in the pan. Serve slices of the cake with whipped cream, berries, ice cream, chocolate sauce or simply dusted with icing sugar. Or just with more coffee.

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