Balsamic and Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 large cake – Serves 8 to 10
Adapted from a recipe on the back of a balsamic vinegar bottle, Linda Collister, author of the aptly named cookbook Divine: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes With a Heart, recommends serving this superlative cake with mascarpone cheese and ripe figs. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar make this Mother's Day cake an especially delectable treat.
1 cup Divine or other cocoa powder of your choice
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
A good pinch of salt
1-3/4 cups caster sugar (superfine sugar)
1 cup olive oil
1-1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Mascarpone and ripe figs to serve
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift cocoa, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. In a measuring jug, whisk oil and water, and pour over flour mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
2. Add balsamic and wine vinegars and stir until mixed. Spoon into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until firm to the touch but still soft in the center. Turn off oven and leave cake inside for another 10 minutes.
3. Remove cake from oven and set on a wire cooling rack for 30 minutes. Remove sides of the springform pan and serve with mascarpone and ripe figs. The cake can also be left to cool completely then stored in an airtight container. It is best eaten warm and within two days.
The season's first apricots will make a vibrantly delicious dessert for Mother's Day. The tender orange fruit warmly spiced with a white wine and cinnamon syrup set in a homemade crust gives this tart a lovely blend of tastes and textures.
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
2 cups white wine (try a Gewürztraminer)
1 cup honey
1-1/2 cups water
Zest and juice of a lemon
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2-1/2 pounds apricots, halved, pitted
Vanilla ice cream
1. To make pastry, blend flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter, and pulse until a coarse meal forms. Add ice water and pulse until mixture begins to come together. If crumbly, add a bit more water. Gather into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
2. When ready to bake, remove dough from refrigerator and let soften slightly. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to form a 13-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch, fold over and press to make double-thick sides. Press up 1/4 inch over tart pan sides. Pierce with a fork and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake tart crust for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while preparing filling.
4. Combine wine, honey, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and apricots in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until apricots are very tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer apricots to a large baking dish and set aside.
5. Increase heat to medium-high and bring liquid in the pot to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring often, until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup syrup. Brush bottom of prepared crust with a bit of the syrup. Arrange apricots (make sure they are well drained) in crust and brush with more of the syrup. Let stand for an hour. Slice and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.