After I had an unsuccessful attempt at some cookies - both the way the recipe worked and the spice levels were wrong - I went back to the drawing board and thought about what I really would like. I remembered how much I liked the Lindt chocolate bar which contains a chili flavoured cherry filling (the single 'l' is their preferred spelling!), and I also remembered that I sometimes make a bakewell-style chocolate tart for dessert. I didn't want to use almonds this time, but I liked the idea of a chocolate tart with a layer of cherry jam at the bottom. I decided to add the chili flavouring to the chocolate layer and that I wanted the chocolate filling to be on the cakey-side, rather than a rich custard or ganache. I also wanted to keep CT's dietary restrictions in mind, so wanted a dessert he could eat without too much guilt, which meant that ideally I wanted a baked mousse cake which wasn't too rich, to balance the inevitable high fat levels of the pastry. One day I will try olive oil pastry, but I didn't have the will to experiment with that here!
I eventually found a recipe in one of the Green and Black's recipe books for a Berry Torte, the chocolate part of which looked just right - not too sweet and not a lot of butter (relative to other recipes I found!). After that it was simple to think through the finished tart - a sweet shortcrust deep pie case, a layer of Morello cherry jam and a mousse cake layer, with added chilli flavour, on top.
The execution wasn't perfect, as the chocolate pulled away from the pastry as it cooled, but it was a very good dessert. The sweet cherry filling was very intense but was balanced by the chocolate layer which wan't too sweet and which gave a warm chilli after-taste. I think I would add more cayenne pepper next time to give a slightly stronger flavour, and for a special occasion would use a richer mousse cake recipe, but on this occasion, it filled the criteria I had for this recipe.
For the recipe, you'll need a deep, sweet shortcrust pastry case, about 8 or 9 inches in diameter (20-22cm), baked blind. While the pastry is cooking, slightly warm 250g Morello cherry jam and stir in 2 tablespoons Kirsch or other cherry flavoured liqueur. Spread this over the base of the pastry case when you take it out of the oven. Then make the chocolate mousse cake mixture:
25g plain flour
5 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
75g plain chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
5 teaspoons double cream
4 egg whites
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons caster sugar
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then remove from the heat and add the butter and cream and stir until the butter has melted.
Sift together the flour, cocoa and cayenne powder.
Whisk the egg whites to the stiff peak stage, then add the sugar and beat until thick and glossy.
Add about a quarter of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and mix in thoroughly, then gently fold in the rest of the whites.
Gently pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case, trying to fill the edges first and working into the middle - this should prevent the jam being pushed to the edges. Spread evenly then bake at 140C for about 25 minutes or until a test probe comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream or as you desire
While writing this blog entry, I got very worried about the spelling of chilli. While researching the matter, I came across this article, which in turn links to another interesting point of view on the subject. I think for the time being I'm going to stick to the most accepted British spelling - the double 'll' version!