Beirut is not lacking in fine pastry shops; quite the contrary, I can list several that rival Paris best pâtisseries (there is even a Ladurée shop in Beirut for macarons), not counting my friendAnne-Marie‘s yummy creations.
As a side note, the reason Lebanon has such a strong French influence is not because it was a former colony (which it was not), but because in the 19th century Lebanon’s first industry was producing silk and its main client was France (the city of Lyon), which encouraged the French government and their trading partners to invest heavily in the country, establishing schools and beefing up infrastructure.
One likes to make a little chocolatey something at home on the spur-of-the-moment and this is it. The technique used in making these is the same as for a mousse, except that the batter is baked a little. The cake has a light and slightly spongy texture, a result of incorporating a meringue to the batter.
The recipe for these black forest cupcakes came from a chocolate bar wrapper (Nestlé corsé, called fondant au chocolat); figured I would call it black forest because I baked the fondant in muffin cups and added kirsch-smothered cherries to the batter (called griottes). Use pitted canned dark cherries and add a touch of cherry liqueur as a fine substitute, since these types of cherries (wild and soaked in liqueur and jarred in France) may be hard to find elsewhere.
INGREDIENTS: 8 servings
- 6 oz of dark chocolate ( I used Nestlé corsé) (200 g.)
- 4 oz of unsalted butter (125 g.)
- 1 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (regular sugar is OK)(150 g.)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup of sour cherries or griottes if possible or dark canned pitted cherries (150 g.)
- 1 tbsp of kirsch or cherry syrup (optional)
- whipping cream to serve or garnish with (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200C (375F). In a saucepan, melt the chocolate broken into chunks with the butter (or in the microwave). Mix the egg yolks and the sugar and add the chocolate mixture.
- Beat the egg whites till stiff and glossy and incorporate to the chocolate mixture gently using a spatula and an up-and-down motion.
- Pour into a cake pan lined with baking paper and greased and floured or (9 inch cake mold) or into cupcake liners in a muffin pan. Drop 2 or 3 cherries on the batter as you are filling the cupcake liners (per liner) or about a cup of cherries for the entire cake pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes if in a cake mold or 8 minutes in a muffin pan, checking to make sure it is not too wet or does not get too dry. The cakes will puff up and stay moist in the center.
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