Nigella Lawson is lighting more than a few fires in kitchens these days, and we're not talking about the stove.
The sizzlingly attractive chef who hosts the popular Style Network show, Nigella Bites, shared some holiday goodies on Good Morning America, as part of a new series called Perfect Party Pleasers. Here are her recipes for Chocolate Cloud Cake; Apple and Blackberry Kuchen, a German cake; and Chocolate Pots, a chocolate custard-like dessert.
Chocolate Cloud Cake Ingredients and Directions
• 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened • 6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated • 1/2 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon sugar • 2 Tablespoons Cointreau (optional) • grated zest of 1 orange (optional) • 9-inch springform cake pan
For the cream topping:
• 2 cups heavy cream • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional) • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 2. Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking parchment. 3. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate. 4. Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 1/3 cup of the sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and the orange zest. 5. In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining sugar and whisk until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff. 6. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly. Cook the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools. 7. When you are ready to eat, place the still pan-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its pan. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges: it's the crater look we're going for here.
8. Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently toward the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea strainer.
Apple and Blackberry Kuchen Ingredients and Directions
*Note: Kuchen is the German word for cake.
For the cake base:
• 2 1/4 to 2 1/3 cups white bread flour • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 2 Tablespoons sugar • 1/2 package (1/4-ounce package) rapid-rise yeast (about 1 teaspoon) • 2 eggs • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract • grated zest of half a lemon • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk • scant 1/4 cup butter, softened • 13 x 9-inch jellyroll pan
For the topping:
• 1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of cream and a pinch of ground cinnamon • 1 small or 1/2 medium firm, tart apple (approx. 6 ounces in weight) • 1 2/3 cups blackberries • zest of 1/2 lemon • 1/3 cup self-rising flour • 2 tablespoons ground almonds • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon • scant 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar • 2 Tablespoons Demerara, or granulated brown sugar • 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
1. Put 2 1/4 cups of the flour in a bowl with the salt, sugar and yeast. 2. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add them, with the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon, to the lukewarm milk. 3. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a medium-soft dough, being prepared to add more flour as necessary. I generally use about 2 1/3 cups in all, but advise you to start off with the smaller amount: just add more as needed.
4. Work in the soft butter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes or half that time by machine. When the dough is ready it will appear smooth and springy: it suddenly seems to plump up into glossy life.
5. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave until doubled in size (an hour to an hour and a quarter). Or leave to rise slowly in a cold place overnight.
6. Then punch down and press to line a jellyroll pan measuring 13 x 9 inches. You may think it's never going to stretch especially if the dough has had a cold rise. When it's pressed out on the pan, leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes and then brush with the egg and cream mixture.
7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel and chop the apple and toss it in a bowl with the blackberries and the zest from the other half lemon. Set aside in the bowl for the few minutes it takes to make the crumble topping.
8. Put the flour, ground almonds and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine, then add the cold, diced butter. Using the tips of your fingers — index and middle stroking the fleshy pads of your thumbs — rub the butter into the flour. Stop when you have a mixture that resembles clumpy (this is a very buttery mixture) oatmeal. Fork in the sugars and flaked almonds. 9. Tumble the fruit over the egg-washed dough and then sprinkle the crumble on top of that. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350°F and cook for a further 20 minutes or so, until the dough is swelling and golden at its billowing edges and the crumble is set; don't expect it to be crunchy. 10. Remove from the oven and, if you can, wait five minutes or so before cutting it into greed-satisfying slabs.
Chocolate Pots, Directions and Ingredients
• 6 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1/2 teaspoon allspice • 1 egg • 8 1/4 cup pots or custard cups
1. Crush the chocolate to smithereens in the food processor.
2. Heat the cream and milk until just about boiling, then add the vanilla and allspice and pour through the funnel over the chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds. Process for 30 seconds, then crack the egg down the funnel and process for 45 seconds.
3. Pour into whatever little cups you're serving in, and sit them in the refrigerator for 5 hours or overnight. But remember to take them out of the refrigerator a good 20 minutes before you want them to be eaten; the chill interferes with their luscious, silky richness.
Note: This makes 2 cups altogether: enough to fill 8 little pots of approximately 1/4 cup capacity. But if you've got only bigger cups, just augment quantities.
All recipes used with permission, excerpted from Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson, Hyperion, Copyright 2002.