Posting about a dessert when tragedy has hit my fellow humans in such enormous proportions seems terribly superficial. Talking about ganache and toasting hazelnuts seems inappropriate when what I am really thinking about are my close friends facing yet another difficult health-related challenge. Beating eggs while history is being rewritten right across the Mediterranean seems silly.
The truth is that no matter in what proportions tragedy hits, whether macro or micro, life goes on. Life made up of small gestures like going to work, preparing a meal or picking up your kids from school. These are the things that keep you grounded when your own life has been overturned. We all see enough images of tragedy on the evening news, on the Internet, photographed on newspapers. And lets face it, even if something is not splattered across the front pages of the papers and we go on living our everyday lives, there is still something terrible happening somewhere to someone, for such is life.
I realize this is not the place to discuss the tragedies of our planet. People clicking onto my blog don't need to hear more about them, they come here to get an idea for dinner, but also for distraction, to escape everyday life for a few minutes, or so I like to think. I made lasagne with pesto without commenting on our Prime Minister's frolicking, I baked chocolate chip cookies while dictators were being overthrown and uttered not a word. But sometimes it is impossible to ignore what is happening outside, in the real world. So forgive my digression. This is my ode to normality.
Perhaps rolling out dough and following precise steps can be soothing, can momentarily distract from painful thoughts, can help bring back a touch of normality to someone's home.
For us, this cake was a celebration of friendship. We shared it with good friends and thought of other good friends who are not close enough to come by for a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and some words of comfort. Being close to people you love, family or friends, enjoying their company in a warm home while it is raining outside is a privilege we must never take for granted. So if you make this, promise me you will savor every bite. Think of the earthquake victims. Think of a loved one going through a rough time. And maybe bring them a slice, even just with your thoughts. I know I did.
Adapted from Dulce Delight.
With this cake I am participating in the online bake sale for Japan promoted by The Tomato Tart. Sabrina is the mind behind this fabulous idea, a way to try to help support Japan in its darkest hour. I am so happy she has offered me the opportunity to contribute somehow. The auction proceeds will be donated to Second Harvest Japan, a food bank that is working right now to respond to the immediate needs of the people displaced by this disaster. Whoever is interested in participating, please contact Sabrina directly through her blog. She was very helpful and promptly replied to all my questions.
1 cup ground graham crackers (I used Digestives)
3/4 cup ground hazelnuts (without skin)
1/4 bitter cocoa powder
4 tbsp confectioner's sugar
5 tbsp melted butter
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
9 oz. (250gr) bittersweet chocolate (55%)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 oz. (55gr) bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp honey
1tbsp warm water
The first step is toasting the whole hazelnuts in the oven or in a pan. When they are ready, place them on half of a dish towel, cover with the other half and roll back and forth to rub the skins off. I overtoasted mine a little and didn't manage to get all the skins off but they tasted fine once they were ground, so don't drive yourself crazy doing this. Grind the graham crackers and then mix them together with the cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar and the melted butter. Spread this crumble into a tart pan or a spring form and then press onto the bottom and sides until firm. Bake in a warm oven at 180°C for a little over 10 minutes.
In the meantime, start preparing the filling, which is not strictly a ganache because of the addition of eggs. Chop the chocolate (Dulce Delight rightly suggest using no more than 65%. Even with 55% the tart was not too sweet) and set some aside for the glaze (see above). Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for about 30 seconds and then whisk together until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add in the eggs, the vanilla extract and the pinch of salt and whisk together. When the crust has cooled, pour in the mixture and bake in a 350°F oven (180°C) for 20-25 minutes. While the tart is baking start preparing your glaze: heat the cream, pour over the chocolate, add in the honey and warm water and mix until blended and glossy. When the tart is ready and cooled, pour over the glaze and spread by moving the pan with circular motions.