Guilty pleasure #56 is watching Masterchef Australia: partly because I have a secret crush on Matt Preston – one of the resident judges. He makes me smile every time I see him: decked out, as is his wont, in matched separates complete with colour co-ordinated cravat and pocket square. I am sure if we took a peek – his socks would be toned in too. On anyone else this would look like a terrifying affectation – but on him, for some reason, it works.
I am not a huge fan of restaurant critics. My pal Abo and I have an ongoing argument about the English Critic AA Gil. Abo thinks he is a genius writer and arbiter of all things food and otherwise. I think he is so full of it, I am amazed he can fit another morsel in his mouth. Abo himself is an honest cook with no pretensions – so I am surprised that he loves AA. But I forgive him this aberration – he is Rhodesian. And they always had a fondness for the English.
Restaurant critics should make sense, they should write about the food, the ambiance and the service. They should tell us honestly and they should tell us in words we can understand. Matt does all this: his comments to the contestants are always on the money. He delivers them straight from the hip – and they are not coloured with AA-sized ego.
Plus he cooks. Which I think every food critic should. He also loves chocolate. And this week is all about love on C&S. So when I checked out his new book “Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes” and spotted this torta – I knew it had to be included. Preston has it that this recipe was given to him by a Perugian nonna who cooks at her family’s restaurant called Il Gallo Nero, just off the square in the little town of Greve in Chianti. Perugia gave the world Baci chocolates – the classic combo of dark chocolate and hazlenuts. Wrapped in love quotes. It was all fitting together seamlessly, how could I not bake it?
There was total silence around the table when I served the cake at our farmhouse in Tulbagh this weekend (more on that tomorrow). And my pal Willem didn’t hesitate when I suggested a slice for breakfast today. The kids polished off the rest after dinner – and sofabrother broke his diet to proclaim: “this one’s a keeper”.
So here it is: tanto amore from Tuscany. By way of Matt Preston.
- 200g dark chocolate – preferably 70%
- 100g butter
- 4 eggs, separated
- 200g icing sugar
- 15g potato starch (or rice flour – I used the potato which worked perfectly)
- 70g toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
- Extra icing sugar
- Fresh raspberries
- Creme fraiche
- Preheat the oven to 150C.
- Melt chocolate and the butter together. Stir well to combine.
- Grease a 25cm diameter ovenproof tart plate or metal flan tin. Line the bottom with baking paper.
- Whisk yolks with the icing sugar and potato starch. It will quickly become a stiff batter but don’t worry as the chocolate will loosen it up.
- Add the chocolate butter mix/stirring gently to combine.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
- Then fold gently into the chocolate/sugar cream mix. Lifting delicately from bottom to the top using a thin-bladed silicon or plastic spatula if you have one.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the metal flan tin.
- Jiggle it so the mix spreads evenly across the tin.
- Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly over the tart.
- Bake for 20 minutes – testing it with a tooth pick – the centre should be gooey – but not runny.
When cooked, remove and leave to cool in a safe place. Then, get a sieve and sprinkle the finished tart with a fine dusting of icing sugar. Serve with Creme Fraiche and raspberries to counterpoint the richness of the chocolate. And a strong espresso on the side.
(Food Images copyright campari&sofa. Matt Preston’s book is published by Pan MacMillan. This post was not sponsored in any way.)