So Christmas and all its attendant festivities seem to have been and gone in a flash.
After a wedding, a birthday, several Christmas celebrations with different family groupings and a week where I slept in five different beds, it was good to get home at the weekend. We don’t go back to work until Thursday, so we are savouring these last few lazy days. All we need to do is make sure that we have enough milk for a steady stream of tea and enough bread to cobble together some semblance of a meal.
And now, our attentions turn to the new year. I’ve only just got into the habit of writing the date as 2013 rather than 2012 so this whole 2014 malarky is really going to confuse me.
2013 was, on the whole, a rather good year. There were definitely a lot more plusses than minuses and, really, that is all you can ask of a year. In a way, I’m hoping 2014 doesn’t really bring anything too different with it. I am quite attached to the life that we’ve built here and now. I’m sure there will be changes over the next year, ups and downs and in between times but, hopefully, I’ll be sitting here in 12 months time saying something very similar about the year that was.
In between now and then though, there will be plenty of cake.
My boyfriend’s sister was working throughout Christmas so, over the weekend, we had a belated celebration for her involving an afternoon of board games and plenty of pigs in blankets. Alongside the party food, I served these little (gluten free) nibbles of cake, rich with dark chocolate and covered in a smoothy and creamy ganache, with just enough salt to take the edge off the sweetness.
If you’re one of those people who is organised enough to be hosting a fabulously sophisticated new year’s eve soiree, you can make the base today and they’ll be even tastier tomorrow. Just dollop the ganache on shortly before your guests arrive and sprinkle with something edible and sparkly and you’re good to go. Or, if you’re more like us and you’re not planning to leave the comfort of your sofa – especially if it remains as windy and rainy as it is right now – you could just bring in 2014 with a plate of these and a glass of champagne.
Whatever you’re doing tomorrow night, however you’re celebrating (or not), I hope you have a wonderful start to the new year and that 2014 brings you everything you wish for and more. Thank you all for stopping by this tiny little corner of the internet in 2013.
As my boyfriend was willing to demonstrate several times, these are one-bite nibbles, albeit only if you have a relatively large mouth. For that reason, it seems much easier not to bother with paper cases or cupcake wrappers which seem a bit more hassle than they're worth in this case. I made the ganache with a mixture of dark and milk chocolate which I knew would appeal more to my audience but you can just make it with dark chocolate if you prefer.
- 135g (1 stick + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus extra for greasing the muffin tins
- 80g (a smidgen under 2/3 cup) gluten free all purpose flour
- 25g (1/4 cup) ground almonds
- 1/3 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 40ml (1/4 cup) hot water
- 75g (3 oz) dark chocolate
- 120g (2/3 cup) demerara sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 40ml (1/6 cup) sour cream
- 50g (2 oz) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa, broken into small pieces
- 50g (2 oz) milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 120ml (1/2 cup) heavy/double cream
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (more or less as needed to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan) and grease a couple of mini muffin tins with softened butter.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside until needed. Combine the cocoa powder and hot water in a mug or small bowl and mix to a smooth paste. Again, set aside until needed. Finally, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Now, you're at last ready to make the cakes! Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk/wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, and continue to beat until combined. Once the eggs have been incorporated, add the cocoa paste, melted chocolate and vanilla and beat again until everything is mixed together. Fold in half of the dry ingredients, the sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until just combined.
- Dollop two teaspoons of mixture into each hole of the muffin tin. Bake for about 10 minutes until risen and a toothpick inserted comes out just about clean. Allow to cool int he tin for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
- To make the ganache, put the chocolates in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and about half the salt in a pan over a low heat until just about to start simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, allow it to stand for a minute or two before stirring until smooth. Taste to determine whether you need any more salt.
- Place a teaspoon of ganache on top of each cake and swirl it around with your finger or the back of the spoon. Allow the ganache to set before dusting with icing sugar or some other kind of decoration to serve.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2013