Despite the heavy Italian influence seen in Argentine ‘panaderías’ (bakeries), you will also find a German touch, and the ‘torta selva negra’ is a truly decadent cake for a special afternoon tea.
- 670 g (1½ lb) jar morello cherries
- 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) thickened (whipping cream)
- 100 g (3½ oz) dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids)
- 30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) unsweetened (Dutch) cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) boiling water
- 125 g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 170 g (6 oz/¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 225 g (8 oz/1½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) full-cream (whole) milk
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp marsala
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: 3 hours
1. Drain the cherries, reserving 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the liquid from the jar. Place 270 g (9½ oz) of the cherries, the reserved liquid, cornflour, vanilla and half the icing sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until the liquid boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
2. To make the cake, combine the cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl. Add the boiling water and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a 22-cm (8¾ in) springform cake tin. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for 4–5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add one egg and beat until well combined, then repeat with the remaining egg. Beat in half the flour, followed by half the milk, until combined. Beat in the remaining flour and milk, then add the baking powder and beat until just combined. Add the cocoa powder mixture and beat to make a thick and smooth chocolate batter.
4. Transfer to the prepared tin and bake for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely. If the cake is domed, cut 1.5 cm (½ in) off the top to make it flat. Using a large serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally and evenly drizzle the marsala over the cut sides of the cake.
6. Beat the cream with the remaining icing sugar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat or the cream will become grainy. Spread half the cream over the bottom layer of the cake. Arrange the cherry mixture over the cream, then carefully replace the top layer of the cake. Spread the remaining cream over the top of the cake and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
7. Finely grate the dark chocolate onto the top of the cake. Cut into thick slices and serve straight away.
Recipe from The Food of Argentina by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz, Smith Street Books, RRP $44.99