Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Deconstructed Black Forest Cake Parfait ("Cake in a Glass")

I'm sentimental about Black Forest Cake. I love the combination of sour cherries, rich chocolate cake and fluffy whipped cream. Honestly, what could be more appealing? Black Forest Cake just also happens to be a German invention (those Germans really know how to do their cakes!), known in Germany as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. So when I was requested to feature some German recipes by a reader, I knew that Black Forest had to be somewhere on the menu. I love the traditional cake, but I thought perhaps I would try something a little different. I love to experiment with chocolate and cherry, as you can see by my Black Forest Shots and my Chocolate Cherry Cobbler.

So what does "deconstructed" mean?
"Deconstructed" is a fancy term bandied about a lot these days by chefs and cooking shows. It essentially means taking apart the individual components of a classic dish in order to present them in a new way. Some people interpret deconstructed by simply laying out the individual components on the plate, rather than combining them. Others define a deconstructed dish as one which is first deconstructed and then reassembled in a new and interesting way, but still has the same flavour profile of the original dish. So that it should look like something new and interesting, yet taste just like the classic dish that you remember. Both ideas can be fun ways to play with classic dishes and create fun and new ways of presenting them. 

This Black Forest Cake is a bit different. It's essentially "Cake in a Glass". Unlike traditional trifles and parfaits, this is made primarily of cake (about 80% cake, 20% other things), which is crammed into a glass amidst dollops of whipped cream and cherry filling. If you like you can take a more structured approach and create layers with the ingredients, however, I prefer the haphazard approach for this one, so that it is sort of like Black Forest Mess :)

This is a literal deconstruction in terms of quantities, so you can also use these components in their exact quantities to make a traditional layered Black Forest Cake.

The Cake
2 cups soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups wholemeal flour (you can also use white)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2/3 cup cocoa

Cherry Filling
1 1/2 cups morello cherries (from a jar or tin), pitted
1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp cherry juice (from the jar or tin)
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch

Whipped Cream
1 can coconut cream, chilled over night in the fridge (or ideally for a couple of days)
1 tbsp soft icing mixture
1 tsp vanilla extract

8 tbsp cherry brandy or kirsch
Cherries to decorate
Chocolate shavings to decorate

To Make
1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 180 degree C.
2. Whisk the soy milk and apple cider vinegar together and set aside for a few moments to curdle slightly.
3. Add the sugar and and canola oil to the soy milk and mix well to combine.
4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and cocoa and mix well.
5. Grease and line a cake tin (you can use round or square, it doesn't matter), I used a 21cm/8 inch round cake tin.
6. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes (you will need to modify this if you used a bigger cake tin, as it will take slightly less time). When a knife comes out of the centre of the cake clean, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack.
7. To make the cherry filling: chop or break your cherries about in half (checking for seeds as you go, as in my experience about 1 in every 10 cherries in a jar of pitted cherries has a pit in it). Place in a small saucepan with the 1/2 cup cherry juice and sugar. Bring to the boil.
8. Combine the cornstarch the the 4 tbsp cherry juice and stir until completely dissolved. Remove the cherries from the heat and add the cornstarch solution. Stir continuously as it thickens. As it cools slightly it should make a thick filling. Allow to cool completely.
9. To make the whipped cream: When you open the tin of coconut cream you will notice that the top is a very solid thick cream. Scoop out all of the solid thick cream on top (you can reserve the liquid to use in another meal – like a curry).
10. Put the thick cream into a bowl and mix well using a hand held electric mixer. Move the beaters up and down to try and get as much air into the cream as possible. Add the sugar and beat until it pretty much resembles thick cream.

1. Make sure the cake and cherries are completely cooled before you assemble!
2. Chop up the cake into pieces.
3. Take 8 parfait glasses (depending on the size of your glasses it may make more or less than 8). Place bits of cake in the glasses and add dollops of cherry filling and whipped cream as you go. Don't forget they should be 80% cake. Do this amongst the glasses until you have used up all the ingredients. You can save a dollop of whipped cream to decorate the top of each glass with if you like.
4. Drizzle 1 tbsp kirsch or cherry brandy over each serving. Decorate the top with cherries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving, or can be made several hours in advance.

Makes 8 servings (or probably 10-12 if you use smaller glasses, such as martini glasses).

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