So having fallen off the healthy eating wagon with the Chocolate Strawberry Cake of last week, there seems little point in getting back on… especially now it’s February and freezing cold, making the lure of chocolate, cream and refined sugar is too strong to resist.
With that in mind, allow me to introduce my take on a Black Forest gateau: a brownie base topped with kirsch, cherries, chocolate creme patissiere (otherwise know as custard if you’re feeling less fancy), whipped cream and finally, a grating of dark chocolate. Not for the faint hearted I think you’ll agree.
This is an incredibly rich pud so I’ve made it using a 15cm cake tin. It might look a little small, but you really only need a tiny amount. I speak from greedy experience when I say that you’ll feel revoltingly sick if you try to split this 4 ways thinking it doesn’t look like much!! So it should feed 6-8 people.
The brownie layer is very rich, so if you prefer a lighter sponge, you’ll want to sub in some ordinary chocolate cake. This would make it a much more restrained treat. I’d suggest just using half measures of Mary Berry’s chocolate sponge recipe that I used in this post.
The chocolate brownie is, even if I do say so myself, an inspired addition though, making a great backdrop for the chocolate custard, cherry and cream concoction on top. So if you think you can handle it and are due for a little indulgence, definitely stick with the recipe below!
Black Forest Brownie Gateau
For the brownie base:
175g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 medium egg
1 medium egg white (you use the yolk in the creme patissere below)
125g soft brown sugar
50g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For the chocolate creme patissiere (Raymond Blanc’s recipe):
2 medium egg yolks
30g caster sugar
7g plain flour
7g corn flour
175ml whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
10g cocoa powder
10g dark chocolate, melted
For the rest:
1 x 400g can cherries, drained
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
150ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
10g dark chocolate
To make the brownie base:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°c/150°c fan. Line the bottom and sides of a 15cm cake tin with baking parchment. The baking parchment needs to come up to the top of the side of the tin (I didn’t do this in the photos above and had to rectify it later!) .
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (alternatively microwave to melt). Beat the eggs and sugar together using an electric hand whisk until well combined and slightly frothy. Fold the melted butter and chocolate into the eggs and sugar, stirring until well combined. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mix, folding in gently.
3. Pour the mix into the prepared cake tin. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is set but there is still a very slight wobble in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin.
Meanwhile, make the creme patissiere:
1. In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are a pale gold colour. Whisk in the cornflour and flour and set aside.
2. Place the milk and vanilla essence in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 30 seconds.
3. Slowly pour half the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking all the time, and then add to the remaining milk in the pan. If you don’t add the milk to the egg mixture slowly you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!
4. Bring the custard back to the boil and simmer for 1 minute, whisking continuously until the custard is smooth and thick. Take off the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Whisk in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Cover with cling film, making the cling film touch the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until needed.
To assemble the gateau:
1. Spoon the kirsch over the brownie base and then top with the cherries. Spoon over the creme patissiere and even out with the back of a spoon. Top with the whipped cream, again smoothing it out. Finally grate the dark chocolate over the top.
2. Refrigerate until needed, taking out of the fridge 30 minutes before tucking in as it will allow the brownie to soften up a little.
The gateau will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days but tastes best on the day of or day after making.