My little iPhone calendar thingy says ‘June’. I have a little giggle to myself, because Steve Jobs’ technology has clearly gone madly and horrifically wrong. Looked outside recently, little iPhone? No, clearly not. Because anyone with even half a sense of perception can see it’s obviously October. So, a Saturday afternoon on a schizophrenic day that is half gorgeous sunshine and half bonfires and drizzle. This presented me with quite a quandary about what to bake, as clearly neither a bright and breezy pavlova OR berry-based spicy confection would fly at all.
I scanned the bookcase groaning under the weight of a myriad cookery books, my eyes flicking along until I saw the woefully underused Green and Black’s ‘Ultimate Chocolate Recipes – The New Collection’. Now, who am I to argue with something calling itself the ‘Ultimate’? I actually very rarely fancy chocolate, but today was one of those rare occasions. It took me a while to locate the recipe I wanted, but once I spotted the right one, I knew. Deep in my heart, I knew that this was the cake I had to make. ‘Chocolate and chestnut soufflé cake’.
It seemed perfect – a bit of Autumn in there, with that chestnut (not to mention that I’ve long coveted those little tins of chestnut pureé in Waitrose), but light enough with the soufflé element.
Don’t be scared. This was my first ever soufflé, and it went perfectly. It can for you too.
Green & Black’s Chocolate and Chestnut Soufflé Cake
25g soft unsalted butter
125g unsalted butter
125g dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate, broken into pieces
A pinch of salt
250g can Clement Faugier vanilla chestnut spread (Waitrose stocks this!)
100ml semi-skimmed milk
3 large free-range eggs
75g caster sugar
Good-quality cocoa powder, for dusting
Creme fraiche, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/gas mark 3. Does anyone actually use the gas mark thingy? I might just stop putting it in. Anyway, smear a 20cm tin with butter (with a removable base if you have that luxury). Line it with parchment paper. I personally put the tin ON the paper, trace a line round it in pencil, then cut to size. If you’re super cautious, you can put this tin on a baking tray too.
2. Meanwhile, in a universe far, far away…heat up the chestnut puree with milk in a separate pan. I’d tell you to take it out of the can first, but you’re a clever bunny, aren’t you? Stir until smooth again…I already used the Chippendale joke didn’t I?
3. Separate eggs and yolks, and whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl.
4. Pour the chestnut mixture into the chocolate, and make sure you stir it well. Stir it until you think you’re done, then stir it one more time. Make a wish if you have to.
5. Stir it into the egg yolks, and mix to make a smooth batter. Yes, this recipe is sponsored by the words ‘stir’ and ‘smooth’.
6. In a new bowl (by this time your kitchen should look like a bombsy tit, as Adam and Joe say), whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. You have to test this in the traditional way – pick the bowl up, turn it upside down, and lift it over your head. If it all goes wrong, egg whites make an amazing hair mask, so don’t worry.
7. Now for the chance-y bit. Use a metal spoon to stir in one spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture. Fold in, gently.
8. Bit by bit, stir the rest of the egg whites in, folding lightly. You’ll need to make sure it’s properly mixed, but just don’t stir too vigorously.
9. Pour the mixture into the tin, then pop into the oven for 25 minutes. It’ll rise, go a bit wobbly in the middle, then sink towards the end, as cracks start to appear – like Cheryl Cole’s career.
10. Take it out, leave it to cool, then slide it out of the tin. I left the parchment paper on, to give it a little support, but you can peel this away. It’s very satisfying.
11. Cover with clingfilm for 2 hours, then dust with cocoa powder.