Fruit and cruelty are rarely linked but during the reign of the last Russian tsar this bizarre connection had special meaning for the peasant children who worked in their ruler's raspberry fields.
They were forbidden to eat the berries; indeed, their mouths were inspected at the end of each day for tell-tale red stains, and woe betide any child who flouted the dictate.
I often think of this as I pick my own raspberries, with my grand-daughter happily grazing beside me, ostensibly "helping Nanny" but in reality gorging herself on the delicious ruby-red fruit.
Raspberries are the perfect accompaniment for today's recipe, which is a standard torte and very easy to make.
Tortes are of European origin. A rich cake with no raising agent, made from quality ingredients, often with very little flour, they are moist but dense. Many are layered, but because of their richness I prefer a single layer, which is easy to serve and far too easy to eat. It really is a special occasion cake. Great with coffee or as a magic note on which to end a dinner party.
To retain the vital moisture, do not turn the cake out of the tin until it has cooled. Cover the cake completely in the ganache before refrigerating. For this recipe you will need a 250 gram block of good quality white chocolate.
WHITE CHOCOLATE TORTE
90g Whittaker's white chocolate, melted and cooled.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup flour
Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Spray 21cm tin with removable base.
Line with baking paper and lightly spray again.
Put chocolate in bowl.
Place over pan of simmering water until melted.
Beat whites until they just hold their shape.
Add yolks and beat until fully incorporated.
Gradually drizzle in the sugar then add vanilla.
Mixture should be pale and creamy.
Fold in flour and chocolate.
Spread evenly in prepared tin.
Bake for 18- 20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean from centre.
Allow cake to cool completely in tin.
140g melted and cooled Whittaker's white chocolate
1 cup softened cream cheese
20g white chocolate for shards
about 1 cup whipped cream
raspberries for decorating.
Beat topping ingredients together and refrigerate until spreadable.
To make shards
Melt chocolate then spread thinly on to baking paper.
Break into pieces when hardened.
Remove cake from tin and slip on to flat serving plate.
Spread cake evenly with topping, generously covering sides. Pipe cream in swirls around the edge.
Place raspberries on swirls.
Anchor shards in topping in jagged fashion.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
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