It’s safe to say that I cannot pull off the glamourous travel-for-work, jetsetter thing. By the time I reach a destination, I am a food-stained, wrinkle-shirted, bleary-eyed mess. I confirmed this new bit of self-awareness on my arrival into Sydney this evening. In one swift movement mid-flight, I managed to flick my fork straight onto my shirt rather than into the bowl of pasta right in front of me, lose my Jane Austen bookmark down the side of my seat and hit my head on the seat in front of me on the way down.
My dry, left contact lense, kept in on account of the flight being so short that I couldn’t justify removing it, was in danger of disappearing behind my eyeball thanks to the strange angle of my head and my brain was strongly advising my right hand not to forcibly remove my neighbour’s hand from her fiancé’s head in front of her. The man, seated in the row in front of us, clearly didn’t want her touching his head, moving away each time her bling-adorned hand came anywhere near it. My saving grace through all of this torment and chaos: the single piece of cake I’d managed to smuggle through, safely stored in Tupperware at the bottom of my backpack. The mothercake from whence it came, had made its debut at a lovely Christmas picnic with friends this morning.
And now, as I lie in a king-sized cloud in a hotel room somewhere in Sydney town and watch When Harry Met Sally, I unwrap my parcel of love and thank my past self for this kind gesture, knowing I will forever suck at being a smooth business traveller.
250 g unsalted butter
250 g dark chocolate
3/4 cocoa powder (Dutch, if possible)
200 g walnuts or almond meal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
6 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a greased cake tin with baking paper. Coat the paper with a little butter to stop the cake from sticking.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate until combined and smooth. Use good-quality chocolate too … it makes a huge difference. Add the cocoa, stir until smooth and set aside.
Roast the walnuts for about 10 minutes, then using a food processor or mortar and pestle, blend/beat into fine crumbs. Alternatively, save yourself the trouble and use almond meal. I like the roasted walnuts, though.
Add the beaten eggs and sugar to the slightly-cooled chocolate mixture, whisking to combine. Add the brandy and vanilla, stirring well. Pour in the walnut meal and combine and then gently fold in the raspberries. If using the frozen variety, be sure to thaw and drain them of liquid.
The mixture will be quite loose and sloppy, but please don’t overmix. Pour it into the cake tin, shake the tin to even out the mixture, and then place it into the hot oven. Cook for about 40-45 minutes, or until the cake has almost set apart from a little wobbly exception in the middle.
Serve at room temperature or chilled with a little icing sugar dusted on top and a side of double cream, if you wish. If you have a few extra raspberries, scatter them on top. If refrigerated, this cake should last for about a week. And cut the pieces on the smallish side (I get about 25 out of this batch), as it’s very rich, dense and brownie-like … perfect for a Sunday evening of hotel-room vegetation.