There are occasions that call for blowouts. Blowouts of cocoa and booze, sometimes muddled together. If that’s what you need, then may I recommend this torte?

As for me- I think I’ll have to abstain for a little while. I may have sipped a little too much from the celebratory cup.

The book shimmied its way into the world last week. I spent Tuesday both upstairs on the phone and then in at the ABC, talking on the radio about its merits (I should have started a drinking game for how many times I exhorted; ‘this is not an austere diet book. It just means that next time you go to eat a toasted ham and cheese sandwich you’re doing it because you really, really want it, not because you can’t think of anything else that’s good to eat). The best moment was when someone called in and said with mild desperation  ‘so what am I allowed to eat???’ To which I said- ‘eat whatever you want. There’s no point being terrified of food. I’m just suggesting that eating some slower carb options may make you feel a bit better. If you really want a rule, then here’s one. Next week, try not to eat white carbs for three of your dinners. And then see how you feel”.

I spent the rest of the night up with a sick little boy. If anyone’s wondering if it’s possible for an 11 mth old to have man flu, then yes, it is. The way he was mewling and howling about a dribbling nose, you’d think he was a European football player in a closely matched final who suffered a scrape to his shin.

Later on in the week there were some beautiful flowers from my husband and the shining treat from one of my oldest girlfriends. She turned up on our door step on  Friday at 4 pm and shuttled me straight out the door. I was promptly due at the local beautician to get my ragged nails attended to and my hands swaddled in paraffin (bizarre, but wonderful in equal measures). Meanwhile she wrangled the small, defiant one through his dinner. When The Hungry One arrived home he nestled in with Will for a cosy night with a bowl of beef cheek and split pea soup. I meanwhile pulled on my old black skinny jeans. And then she drove me down to Manly.  Meanwhile the rest of our gang had all hopped on the ferry from Circular Quay and had come over the harbour to meet us for dinner and drinks.

Over champagne they made me sign a few copies.

We toasted books and babies and more than 20 years of friendship. We toasted lots of things.

I was out, footloose and fancy free. I had packaged up small cannisters of black forest granola for them for their breakfast (one sadly smashed on the road on our way home).

And soon I was sozzled, I mean, properly soused for the first time in 21  months. For the first time since that very long dinner, ending with sour cream liqueurs in the frost bitten expanses of far north Sweden at Faviken  I’m talking loquacious, gushy text message sending, typos on Instagram, water guzzling, early morning paracetamol reaching, stomach twistingly drunk.

It was sort of glorious.

If you have something worth celebrating then this is an excellent torte to help speed you on the way. Now of course, a tedious caveat;  it’s not everyday food. There’s sugar and chocolate and dried fruit and booze. But gosh those things are wonderful sometimes. But if you’ve got gluten intolerant friends, or are trying to wean yourself off wheat then it’s a good option; dense with ground almonds. You could have it on its own with a berry slurry or segments of citrus, but there is something indulgent and fabulous about the rum raisin syrup. It’s all of the good ice cream flavours, bound in a plate of cake.

And here’s another winning factor; it’s also an easy one to remember, with 250 g of chocolate, 5 eggs and 100 g each of butter, ground almonds and sugar. That’s simple enough to pull together when your brain is fogged and your mind is muffled- whether from the excitement of a day, a week or what you got up to to the night before.


Serves 8


250 g dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa solids
100 g caster sugar
100 g unsalted butter
100 g ground almonds
5 eggs, separated

1/2 cup rice malt syrup or maple syrup
1/2 cup of rum
1/2 cup raisins

To serve; creme fraiche, double cream or vanilla ice cream

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 160C/320F and grease and line a 20 cm springform tin.

2) Melt together the butter and the chocolate, either in the microwave, on a double boiler or on the stove.

3) Stir in the sugar.

4) Add each egg yolk, one by one, stirring well  in between to combine.

5) Fold in the ground almonds

6) Beat the egg whites to firm peakes.  Fold in one third of the egg whites (this will help loosen the batter). Then gently fold in the remaining two thirds.

7) Pour the mix gently into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

6) While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Combine the syup, rum and raisins in a small saucepan and bring to the simmer. Simmer for five minutes (boil if you want to burn off the booze). Allow the raisins to steep in the syrup for at least 15 minutes so they can plump up.

7) To serve, dust the cake in cocoa powder. Serve either warm or at room temperature with the raisin syrup on the side and either creme fraiche, double cream or vanilla ice cream.