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My old high school friend, Helen, turned 50 this year (2007) and had her party at The Gap Tavern in Brisbane. They served this cake and Mother Kooka said, "That's all I want for my birthday! I want you to make me that cake!" Well! I had no idea what it was, but I googled and found some possibilities and then cobbled together this recipe. We had it yesterday for Mother Kooka's 83rd birthday party and it was an absolute hit! In fact, one guest said, "I am not going home until you give me the recipe!" I promised I'd post it on Zaar so that everyone could enjoy it - so here it is! Important: make it the afternoon before you want it, as it needs to sit in the oven overnight. (Oh, by the way, I've said it will serve 10, but we had nearly 20 at the party and I served everybody by cutting very thin slices. It's quite rich, so nobody felt deprived).
- 250 g hazelnuts
- 250 g chocolate (use any kind, I used a bar of roasted hazelnut milk chocolate)
- 250 g dates, pitted (i.e. stones removed)
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 200 g caster sugar
- 1⁄2 cup whipping cream
- 125 g dark chocolate, chopped
- 200 -250 ml whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250 g strawberries (or use any berries you prefer)
- Preheat oven to 180c (170C fan forced).
- First, prepare the nuts. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake at 180C for exactly 8 minutes (set a timer so you don't burn them).
- Remove nuts from oven, wrap in a tea towel and then rub firmly to remove as much skin as possible. You may have to do this a couple of times and rub stubborn ones between your fingers. Don't fuss too much if some skin won't come off - just get rid of as much of the loose papery stuff as possible.
- Put skinned and roasted hazelnuts into a food processor and chop roughly. Place nuts into a medium mixing bowl.
- Now break up the chocolate and place it in the food processor and chop roughly. Don't worry if it's not evenly chopped, some will be like grated chocolate, and you'll have some larger bits. That's fine. Just don't overchop it. Add chocolate to nuts in mixing bowl.
- Cut dates in half then process in a food processor until finely chopped, but be careful not to pulverise them to mush. Add dates to mixing bowl.
- Using your hands or a spoon, mix nuts, chocolate and dates well.
- Now, spray a 22-24cm (9") springform tin with spray oil and line base and sides with silicone paper. Paper should come 2.5cm-5cm (an inch or two) over the top of the tin.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add sugar, 1 tablespoon a time, beating after each addition, until all the sugar is used. Continue beating until mixture is stiff and glossy.
- Note: If you don't have a large mixer, it's a good idea to divide the egg whites and sugar in half and beat each half in a different medium sized bowl.
- Using a spatula, gently fold date, hazelnut and chocolate mixture into the egg whites until well combined.
- Spoon mixture evenly into prepared tin, smooth top and bake on the centre shelf of the oven at 180C (170C fan forced) for 50 minutes.
- After 50 minutes, turn off oven, but DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! Leave the cake in the oven overnight (or at least for several hours until the oven is completely cold) without opening the door.
- The next morning, you can remove the cake from the oven and decorate it just before serving.
- It's best to make the chocolate ganache the day before too. Simply bring the cream to a boil, remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted. Pour into small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the ganache from the refrigerator and sit on the kitchen bench until it comes back to room temperature (this will take at least 2 hours).
- Just before serving, remove cake from springform tin onto a serving plate.
- Add sugar and vanilla to whipping cream and beat with electric mixer until thick.
- Spread whipped cream over the top of the cake.
- Spoon room temperature ganache into a piping bag with a large star nozzle fitted.
- Pipe rosettes around the perimeter of the cake and one large rosette in the centre.
- Remove stems from strawberries and cut strawberries in half.
- Pile strawberries (or berries of your choice) onto the top of the cake.