Friday, March 25, 2011

Estabar and Chocolate Flourless Cake

A couple years ago, when Husband and I were newly weds and traveling through Australia, we stayed for a time in a city called Newcastle, just a couple hours north of Sydney. I had visited Newcastle first in 2007 when I stayed with my college roommate, Rachel, who had married an Australian and left Canadian winters behind forever. Smart girl.

The small city with it's laid-back Novocastrians worked it's magic on me when I first visited and so Husband and I were eager to "get away from it all" and find our newly-wed life in a warmer clime. We packed our bags, said our goodbyes and left it all behind indefinitely.

It was a great decision and it looks even better as I sit here in our sixth month of Toronto winter.

The daily grind. Life in Newcastle.
(this is actually Red Head beach, just south of Newcastle)
We settled into a slower pace of life nicely and Husband took up surfing like kangaroos take up hopping.  He wasn't bad - for a Canadian. However, I soon discovered, on our path to marital enlightenment, that no matter where you live you eventually have to work in order to eat (if you know of a place - preferably tropical - where this isn't true, please do share).

The same way Husband had made the ocean his home away from home, I had begun to spend my days at Estabar, a cafe and gelato bar right on Newcastle beach and just around the corner from our apartment. It was the perfect place to sit for hours with a cafe frio, reading a book or chatting with the locals who would shuffle in with sandy bare feet and order tapas and gelato at all times of the day. It was also the perfect vantage point from which to watch the more seasoned surfers out on the horizon early in the mornings before the crowds had gathered and the surf had died down. I know of no cooler place to spend a few hours (or a day) than at Estabar.

passionfruit gelato at Estabar & watching the surf from the terrace

And since I felt this way, I figured I may as well apply for a job there if I wanted to eat and also be happy. Thanks to the amazing Bec, owner of the coolest place to spend a few hours (or a day), I was quickly learning my way around the place, whipping up tapas with the rest of them. I had (and still have) no idea how to stretch coffee or froth milk, but that was left to the baristas, fortunately. Australians take their coffee very seriously and each cup is a work of art. I was happy to be making art in food rather than coffee.

Not my work of art! The baristas at estabar are good.
They discovered and quickly made use of my baking talents and so I learned the secrets of the best desserts Estabar had to offer, including their chocolate flourless cake. Enjoying a the loaf of dense and rich chocolate served warm and slightly melting paired with a latte on a breezy summer night is one of my favourite memories of the cafe.

Chocolate covered chocolate flourless cake. Melt in your mouth good!
I've modified this recipe from the one I used while at Estabar, but it's just as rich and melt-in-your-mouth delicious as it was there. And since chocolate flourless cake is on this weekend's Market Menu I enrobed these individual cakes with dark chocolate. The recipe to follow is for one large cake to be served without embellishment since it's just so good on its own. The only thing I would suggest is to eat it while sitting next to the ocean on a summer's day, watching the surfers coming and going. It will taste really good no matter where you eat it, but that's how I will always enjoy it the most.

Chocolate Flourless Cake:

500g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
6 eggs
2 tablespoons Frangelico or brandy
165g ground almonds (or hazelnuts)
250ml whipping cream (whipped to soft peaks)
icing sugar to dust
whipped cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease a 3"deep and 8" round cake tin and line the base with parchment.

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (a bowl set over barely simmering water) and remove from heat.

Put the eggs and Frangelico or brandy in a large heatproof bowl and set it over the simmering water. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer for approximately 5 minutes or until the eggs are pale and fluffy and quadrupled in volume. Remove from heat.

Lightly fold the almonds and melted chocolate into the eggs until just combined.

Fold in the whipped cream and pour into the cake tin.

Place the cake tin in a roasting pan and fill with hot water to come half way up the side of the cake tin.

Bake for 1 hour or until just set. Remove the cake from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Cover the cake, in the pan, with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Invert the cake onto a cake platter, remove the parchment and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Serve plain or with whipped cream. Enjoy!


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