Just Desserts

3 beautiful cakes to sweeten any afternoon tea or dinner party.


CHOCOLATE GLAMOUR CAKE

½ cup raisins
½ cup Scotch whiskey
1 lb. high-quality bittersweet cooking chocolate
9 oz. unsalted butter
6 eggs
1 ⅓ cups sugar
4 oz. plain flour
1 ⅓  cups ground almonds
1 cup warm water

Soak the raisins in the Scotch overnight.

Prepare a 10-inch spring form pan, greasing, flouring and lining it well. Set oven to 365 degrees. Place broken-up chocolate and butter in a pan over hot water to melt. Stir occasionally. Stir in half-a-cup of warm water. When melted and mixed thoroughly, remove from heat and leave to cool. Separate eggs. Beat yolks and sugar until creamy. Add melted chocolate mixture. Pour in half-a-cup of warm water. Add flour and almond meal. Mix all these ingredients well, and add raisin and whisky mixture. Finally, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Fold the whites into the cake mixture, and stir gently. Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before lifting cake carefully from tin. Garnish with raspberries, and serve with your favorite custard or quality vanilla ice cream.



RUSSIAN COFFEE CAKE

2     sticks softened unsalted butter
1     packed cup brown sugar
4     large eggs
1     teaspoon vanilla extract
1     cup room temp buttermilk
2     cups unbleached white flour
1     cup whole wheat flour
3     tsp baking powder
1     tsp baking soda
1     tsp salt

Filling: Combine a cup of semisweet chocolate chips, 1 cup rough-chopped whole almonds and 1 cup shredded coconut. Set aside a generous cup of peach or apricot jam and 1 cup sliced, dried and diced apricots.

General: Have your eggs and buttermilk at room temperature. Grease a tin, or bundt, or cake tin with a hole in the middle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (not in a blender, please). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Sift together the flours and baking powder, soda and salt. Add the dry mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture. Use a wooden spoon and mix just enough to blend after each addition. Spoon half the cake batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it until even. Spoon the jam in blobs here and there, and sprinkle with the apricots and about 2/3 of the chocolate nut mix. Add the remaining cake batter; sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate-coconut mix. And bake cake for 50-60 minutes, or until cooked. Leave in tin until entirely cooled.

Serving: You can dust with icing sugar, or ice with a lemon icing and top with apricots and almonds.



SPICED ASIAN PEAR CAKE

1 cup olive oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup candied ginger, diced
4 cups Asian pears, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a cake pan. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat oil and eggs until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture until combined. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the pears and ginger by hand using a wooden spoon. Spread batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Place pan on wire rack to cool. Serve with toasted pecans and whipped cream.

Serves 8 to 10

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