Add a lit­tle lux­ury to your ta­ble FOOD EX­TRA Gizzi Ersk­ine’s culi­nary mem­o­ries

The Herald Magazine - - Chocolate truffle cake -

HANDS up – who re­ally likes Christ­mas pud­ding? We love the glam­our, the flam­ing brandy, the steam­ing cus­tard… but who re­ally likes the cur­rants?

It’s not ev­ery­body’s favourite and, let’s face it, af­ter nib­bles, drinks, soup, turkey, stuff­ing, sprouts and roast parsnips, they’re a recipe for in­di­ges­tion.

Give me choco­late truf­fle cake any day – not a stodgy, floury cup of tea choco­late cake but an af­ter-din­ner so­phis­ti­cated fon­dant choco­late torte: bit­ter, smooth, unc­tu­ous with a sharp or­ange syrup or a con­trast­ing dol­lop of creme fraiche or even some ul­ti­mate or­ange mas­car­pone cream.

It is Christ­mas, af­ter all!

GOR­GEOUS CHOCO­LATE TRUF­FLE CAKE In­gre­di­ents

320g bit­ter dark choco­late

(60-70 per cent co­coa solids)

250g un­salted but­ter pinch of salt

120ml cold wa­ter

280g caster su­gar

5 large free-range eggs

23cm/9in bak­ing tin Large deep bak­ing tray This cake is baked slowly in a wa­ter bath in a low oven. Be­fore start­ing, make sure the bak­ing tin fits eas­ily into the tray and both sit eas­ily on the low­est shelf of the oven.

Method:

Line and grease the bak­ing tin. Pre­heat the oven to 130C or Gas 1.

Break the choco­late into a bowl. Add the but­ter and a pinch of salt. Melt them, either in a mi­crowave (1 minute at medium then 20 sec­ond bursts) or in the bowl bal­anced over a pot of sim­mer­ing wa­ter. (Don’t let the wa­ter touch the bot­tom of the bowl.)

Once melted, stir in the cold wa­ter and set aside. Whisk the eggs and su­gar briskly to­gether un­til they have dou­bled in size and are rich and creamy. This can take up to 15 min­utes.

Lower the whisk­ing to slow and grad­u­ally add the choco­late mix­ture to make a light bat­ter.

Pour the bat­ter into the bak­ing tin that is al­ready rest­ing in the bak­ing tray. Ease onto the low­est shelf of the oven and then care­fully fill the tray half-full of boil­ing wa­ter. The cake bakes slowly for 80-90 min­utes. It is cooked when it has shrunk slightly from the sides and the top feels firm when you press it. Don’t worry if it is slightly sunk in the mid­dle – its tex­ture is soft and de­li­cious. Leave the cake to cool in the tin be­fore tip­ping it onto a plate.

It lasts three to four days. To glam it up, dust it with dark choco­late pow­der or white ic­ing su­gar.

It is es­pe­cially good with slices of fresh or­ange.

FROM body piercer to cook­book au­thor, restau­ra­teur and TV per­son­al­ity, Gizzi

Ersk­ine’s ca­reer has been quite im­pres­sive. Her lat­est recipe col­lec­tion, Slow, is packed with stews and hearty meals worth putting time into, and will see you through the colder months. We caught up with her to grill her on the im­por­tant things.

Her ear­li­est cook­ing mem­ory is...

“My ear­li­est is be­ing in Scot­land and ly­ing on a tar­tan rug with my mum gar­den­ing and smelling soil. Raw pota­toes – just that re­ally earthy veg­etable smell. Most peo­ple talk about the sweet peas or the smell of cook­ing toast or crum­pets, and mine’s the smell of re­ally fresh, fresh, fresh veg­eta­bles. I could have only been about 18 months old.”

Her big­gest culi­nary dis­as­ter is...

“I had some guests over and I was recipe test­ing for one of my books. I was cook­ing slow shoul­der of goat, which is ac­tu­ally in Slow. I asked a very good friend of mine, ‘How long do I put it in for?’ and he said, ‘Temp 120 for six hours’. Now a shoul­der of goat has a lot less fat in it than lamb and it’s also twice the size. So put I it on, had guests com­ing round and it wasn’t ac­tu­ally ready un­til four in the morn­ing!”

She switched ca­reer as a body piercer to be­come a chef...

“I love pierc­ing, I re­ally wanted to be a piercer and I was re­ally suc­cess­ful at it. But food is in my blood. I did pierc­ing for eight years al­most and it was time for a change. Food was the thing that I guess I was al­ways meant to do.”

Her culi­nary ca­reer high­lights in­clude...

“I can’t pick one, I’m too lucky! My top three: the re­sponse to Mare Street Mar­ket [her Lon­don restau­rant, deli and food em­po­rium]; the day we opened Pure Filth (her pop-up restau­rant of­fer­ing ‘healthy food for he­do­nists’) at the Tate to queues, like enor­mous queues around the block. And also when I got the job as the youngest Sun­day Times cook and I man­aged to hold on to that ti­tle for three years.

“But also there’s lit­tle things. Every sin­gle day, there’s some­thing that hap­pens in my life that makes me go, ‘God, my life is so men­tal, what the hell have I done to even de­serve this?’ Some­times not in a good way, but mostly in a great way.”

Slow by Gizzi Ersk­ine is pub­lished by HQ, £25, pho­tog­ra­phy Issy Cro­ker, avail­able now

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