This cake is basically a direct result of the recent teachers’ strike in the Netherlands.
Or maybe not so direct, but connected anyway.
Let me explain.
Two weeks ago, a large number of teachers in the Netherlands went on strike as a protest against the extensive budget cuts that will effect special needs children.
As a result my son Sebastiaan did not go to school that day. Instead he went with me to the gym, where he discussed the strike with one of the trainers and also tried out most of the equipment.
After that we went to the library where I lent books on gardening and he on dinosaurs. We had a sandwich and a cup of tea at the little cafe at the library. We discussed some meaningful things and Sebastiaan explained to me his theory of how dinosaurs went extinct.
And then we went to the local health food store to do grocery shopping. Sebastiaan spotted spelt ladyfingers and because he was not sure how I would react to his idea of buying them, he decided to discuss that afterwards and buried them under some other stuff in my shopping cart.
And so it happened that at home I found out I had bought ladyfingers and started to look for a way to use them. I rejected Tiramisu as too obvious and finally found this lovely recipe for Chocolate terrine in Deborah Madison’s opus magnum Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Really, I am sure that if you only were allowed to cook from one cookbook for the rest of your life, and if you picked this one, you could eat very well and healthy and not get bored, ever.
Deborah Madison describes this terrine as a “luscious dessert that goes far, and is simple to make”. I would describe it as a very rich chocolate mousse with extra’s. It can feed 10 or 12 easily. It does not require any baking, just a couple of hours in the fridge. And you can tweak it to suit your tastes: use hazelnuts and Frangelica liqueur, or orange peel and Grand marnier. You can use up a rest of nuts or dried fruits, pieces of chocolate, broken cookies. Or any cookies that you bought without knowing.
From Debora Madison: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Please note that the recipe uses raw eggs and it is therefore better not to serve it to very young children or the elderly.
70 g (½ cup) raisins
brandy to cover the raisins
230 g (8 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
60 ml (¼ cup) freshly brewed espresso
230 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large free-range eggs, separated
2 tbsp sugar
50 g (1 cup) ladyfingers broken into 1,5 cm (½ inch) pieces
150 g (1 cup) chopped toasted almonds
In a small bowl, cover the raisins with brandy and leave to macerate for at least 20 minutes.
Lightly oil a 4 x 10 inch loaf pan (mine was 11 x 22 cm), a 2-quart (2-liter) bowl or another container that will look attractive when unmolded.
Melt the chocolate and espresso in a bowl above a pan with simmering water (au bain marie) with half the butter, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and beat in remaining butter and the egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks, then add the sugar and continue beating until they are glossy and firm. Fold them into the chocolate, then stir in the ladyfingers, almonds, the raisins and 2 tablespoons of the brandy in which they macerated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 6 hours or overnight.
To unmold, carefully hold the dessert in a large bowl of very hot water until the edges are melted. Invert it onto a platter and give the pan a sharp tap. If it doesn’t come out right away, wrap the pan in a steaming hot towel for a few minutes and try again. Serve sliced into thin wedges accompanied by whipped cream, or with fresh raspberries when they are in season.