Black forrest ice cream terrine

There’s a pattern with The Hungry One’s birthday cakes.

“I like… black forrest”

“I like…. textures”

Which is fine as a general, overarching design brief. Where the wheels start to fall off is when he begins elaborating.

” I like crunchy. And chewy. And smooth. And crispy”.

For anyone who wasn’t completely clear; crunchy is when things go ‘snap’. Crispy is akin to rice bubbles. Chewy is when there’s some toothy density.

What we need is a five textured Valhrona chocolate cake. Except Peter Gilmore already perfected that at Quay. So instead you get this.

A couple of textures, and a couple of temperatures, all together in a terrine.

The day before the birthday dinner, just before you’re heading out to lunch, whip up a cherry custard. It’s your basic custard recipe. One cup of milk, one cup of cream. Bring it to a simmering point. Meanwhile whisk 5 egg yolks with ½ cup of castor sugar by hand because you haven’t had time to go to yoga this week and you have to wear sleeveless tops in a fortnight. Then whisk in the warm milk and cream and put it back in a clean pan and cook it over a plopping heat until it thickens. At this point add some cherry jam and swirl it through and a handful of frozen cherries. NB- If I was sensible I would have added some cornflower to the egg yolks and sugar for a bit of extra structure. You live and learn.

Leave it in the fridge. Hope that it will really thicken up like an Australian in London. Get mildly disappointed when it doesn’t. Still express surprise at the pleasant partnership between sooky texture and slightly kinky tang of cherry. Make a split second decision to turn it into a kind of ice cream instead. Put it in the freezer and occasionally stir it to break down the ice crystals.

Meanwhile, think about the other layers.

There’s going to have to be cake. It is a birthday after all. That should cover the chewy factor.

Get started on a dense chocolate loaf. Take 150g of 85 % Lint. Melt it . Beat 150g of unsalted butter with 3 egg yolks until it’s fluffy. Put the whites aside to think about what they did wrong. Stir in the melted chocolate and 1 cup of plain flour. Beat the egg whites until fluffy , add another 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and fold it into the chocolate flour concoction. Put it in a well greased pan and bake for around 30 minutes.

Now we’re going to need to think a bit more about the black forrest elements. Make a quick cherry jelly. Slippery wasn’t part of the textural brief, but I don’t think it’s going to hurt. Take a cup of frozen cherries. Defrost them. Blitz them into a puree and heat it mildly. Add 2 sheets of gelatine and try not to think about what it feels like. Leave it in the fridge to set. Remember to stir your ice cream. Begin to regret cooking free form.

Now it’s up to the crunch and crisp. Make a think layer of biscuit base, studded with coconut and ricebubbles. It’s a bastard child of Coconut Rough and snap, crackle and pop. Take an ungodly amount of butter (200g) . Melt that with ½ cup of cocoa powder. Stir until it’s combined. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of desiccated coconut. Then add 2 eggs, 1 and a half cups of plain flour and a cup and a bit of rice bubbles. Spread thinly in a sensible rectangle on baking paper on a baking tray. Bake at 170 degrees for 20 minutes.

Swap the chocolate cake for the biscuit layer in the oven. Take the cake out of the loaf pan, cool and cut in half.

Remember to stir your ice cream. Do some washing up.

Take your biscuits out of the oven. Cut into rectangles to fit inside your loaf pan while the biscuits are still warm and squishy.

Put them in the fridge to crisp up. Check on your jelly. Stir your ice cream. Remember to shut the freezer door.

Start dressing your loaf pan. Grease it with a bit of butter. Line it with glad wrap. Try and get it to lie flat without wrinkles. Leave handles on each side to grab onto. Add a layer of foil over the top to help smooth things out.

Put a layer of cherry ice cream down the bottom. Nestle half the cake on top of that. Add a shmear of icre cream/ custard. Add a layer of crunchy crackle. Add some more custard/ice cream. Add the second half of the cake. Top the cake with jelly. Add the second layer of crunchy crackle. Add more custard.

Because my custard was an insipid, slippery mess, it went back into the freezer. Next year I’ll add the darn cornflour, or another egg yolk, have a thicker custard, set it in the fridge and actually get the variations of textures. This year we sat down to a solid, strange terrine, with the constant texture of a hockey puck. Eating it was a disappointing exercise in archaeology.

But hey- the textures were only half the brief. At least it tasted of cherries and chocolate.

We live and learn. Happy birthday darling.

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