In recent memory, minus perhaps a Boy Scout cake walk when I was 11 years-old, I don’t think I have ever competed in any sort of food challenge in my life. I never quite gave it much thought nor have had the opportunity to give it a go. Yet the husband caught something a few weeks on Lidl’s social media channel and encouraged me to enter.
The supermarket chain Lidl announced that there would be a summer recipe challenge for their shoppers. The task? Creating a dessert but with the catch that the competitor had to use 1. FinCarre baking chocolate 2. seasonal fruit, and 3. Tastino Petit Beurre vanilla tea biscuits. To enter, one would submit their recipe (another post will be this recipe in Czech) and the winning prize would be a blog feature (how fantastic that would be for The Bell Kitchen!). With a bit of persuasion and some brainstorming, I entered. . . . and here is what I came up with. (Fingers crossed!)
First, what to do with those biscuits! I initially wanted to use them as ladyfingers for a chocolate mousse, Malakoff style (a Malakoff aux Fraises) where ladyfingers are used up the sides of the mold and over the top of the dessert. After the mousse sets in the refrigerator, it would be inverted onto a plate then served. I realized that not only did I not have the Charlotte form, but the biscuits were much too thin. I then figured I could perhaps make my ladyfringers from them like a flour but that idea was soon dismissed – I just did not have the form and therefore it couldn’t be a proper Malakoff.
The idea I then chose for this challenge was to make a chocolate cake baked with cherries, almonds, and rum. In order to incorporate and transform the biscuits I pureed them into a flour.
Next, clean, rinse, and halve the cherries – about 1/2 kilo (or 1 pound) of fresh, seasonal cherries. Set aside 8 perfect cherries to decorate the cake.
Now that your cherries are ready, let’s begin. Here is a tip when I find following any recipe – especially a dessert – is to read the recipe first. Make sure you have all your ingredients before you begin. The cake below is a French cake and much smaller than the American cakes you will see but nevertheless just as delicious and filling. In French baking, you will find that instead of baking powder or baking soda, egg whites are used. If you need tips on handling egg whites, visit my Tips page.
Chocolate Almond & Cherry Rum Cake
(Gateau au Chocolat a l’Amande et Cerises)
Mold: 8 inch x 1 1/2 inch cake pan
Serves 8 people
- 3 large eggs – separated into 3 whites and 3 yolks
- 4 ounces, or 2/3 cup (110 grams) baking chocolate – (FinCarre baking chocolate for the Lidl challenge!)
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) rum (optional: you can substitute strong coffee)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (113 grams) room temperature
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup sifted flour – (Lidl challenge use 1/2 cup Tastino biscuit puree + 1/4 cup flour)
- 1/4 tsp (2.5 ml) almond extract
- 1/4 cup pulverized almonds
- 2/3 cup fresh chopped cherries
For the icing:
- 1 stick unsalted butter (113 grams)
- 4 ounces baking chocolate (113 grams)
- 2 tbsp rum (or substitute strong coffee)
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) and center your baking rack. Butter and flour your cake pan – shaking out extra flour and set aside.
- Begin your chocolate by combining chocolate and rum in a small sauce pan. Melt over very low heat – almost no heat – and cover, checking regularly. Do not use a microwave.
- In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and combine. In a separate bowl, begin your egg whites. Beat until the whites can form peaks and are velvety– tip: add a pinch of salt and a pinch of cream or tartar to prevent deflating. Egg whites can be done by hand or beating in a stand-up mixer. Once formed, set aside away from drafts.
- Returning to your first bowl and when your chocolate has reached a liquid consistency and is not granular, add to the creamed mixture and combine thoroughly. Add almond extract. Add sifted flour. With a rubber spatula add cherries and pulverized almonds. Using your egg whites, add 1/4 of your egg whites into your cake batter. Once this is combined, add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently without deflating — this is done by the method of running your rubber spatula around and pulling the whites up and through the batter’s center. Note: if your chocolate was not warmed/liquid enough you will find it tough to combine your egg whites with the batter. If this happens, do not overbeat/overmix as your cake will not rise. Leave it as-is as best you can.
- Pour your batter into the baking pan and give it a light bang on the counter. Place in the center of the oven and set your timer for 20-25 minutes. Check the cake, however, around 20 minutes. When the cake is ready the toothpick should come out clean. Note that when you sink your toothpick into the center, however, a little bit of chocolate should come out on the toothpick. Your cake is done.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool and set for 1 hour. When cooled, invert the cake (run a knife around to loosen it) out onto a clean plate after an hour to complete the cooling. You can ice your cake after it is cooled.
Follow the recipe above for making melted chocolate (113 grams, 4 ounces) chocolate and 2 tbsp rum. Melt thoroughly. Beat in 6 tbsp of room temperature butter slowly using a rubber spatuala. Add butter pieces at a time, on and off heat, until you reach the desired creamy consistency for icing.
For the Lidl challenge, I created a Tostino crust and added to the top of my cake for color and texture. Lastly, decorate with cherries and almonds!
Enjoying the Chocolate Almond and Cherry Rum Cake
A Sweet Finish at Home