This is a marvellous winter cake: a rich, flourless chocolate-hazelnut base is topped with the mildly sweet compote of wild lingonberries. The tart, acetous berries have a bitter note that reminds of heather and forest and provides such a wonderful contrast to the toasted nutty notes of the cake while both are balanced by a layer of cool, silky whipped cream and a final sprinkling of chocolate shavings (or for sentimental reasons: sprinkles). Don’t be tempted to use any other chocolate than dark, rich, bittersweet chocolate high in cocoa solids (60% plus) and Dutch processed cocoa, no milk chocolate or sweet cocoa shall touch this cake for it lives of these adult smoky flavours that call out for a strong cup of coffee (or something even stronger) – perfect for a post Christmas afternoon with coffee, hot chocolate and tea to battle the fog, ice and snow.
My mother has made this cake decades ago and since its first outing 30 years ago we’ve always come back to it even after periods of temporary neglect. When I made it for my Mum and cousin last month, our eyes lit up, we’ve savoured every bite and smiled in quiet unison to greet our old friend. Compared to Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (Black Forest Gateau), ubiquitously branded as the traditional German cake, this one shares its basic traits of chocolate, cream & sour fruit but wins on every count, if you ask me. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the gateau but it has never been my favourite or anywhere near the middle field, I simply prefer a more intensely flavoured cake. Not slathered in tons of cream, the cake itself is very rich in chocolate flavour and its dark, toasted, nutty notes need no booze to boost its profile and where sour cherries are used we’ll have the gorgeously wild lingonberries adding their special wild character. Rather flatter than the monolith from the Black Forest it also is assembled in minutes once the base is baked & cooled which makes it easy to prepare in advance and put together in the last minute (the base freezes really well, too!).
Preiselbeeren (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), small red berries from a short shrub of the heath family are a staple in German cooking and mostly served with game such as roast venison or certain cheeses – foods which profit from a tart, slightly bitter but fruity and only mildly sweet compote to complement their own acetous notes or balance richness. English-speaking countries as well as Sweden know these little berries mostly as cow- or lingonberries (though Wikipedia informs us that worldwide there are about 25 other terms in use) and since they are closely related to other wild berries of the genus Vaccinium, you may substitute any of these relatives if you can’t find lingonberries: bilberries, cranberries, wortleberries or huckleberries…
Enough now, I am sure you can’t wait to get started:
makes 1 larger cake (26cm / 10 inch Springform pan) or two small ones (18cm / 7 inches)
100g (3.5 oz / 1 stick minus 1 tbsp.) butter at roomtemperature
100g (3.5 oz / a scant ½ cup) Demerara sugar
3 egg yolks
150g (5.3 oz / 1¼ cup) ground hazelnuts
60g (2.1 oz / 8 tablespoons) dark (Dutch processed) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 egg whites
butter to grease the cake tins
a small jar of wild lingonberry compote or preserve (220g / 7.7 oz, I prefer Alnatura)
¼ l (1 cup) double cream
dark chocolate streusel (60% cocoa or more) or shaved shards of dark chocolate (bittersweet, 60% cocoa or more)
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (180°C / 356°F convection oven) and grease one large (26cm / 10 inch) or two small (18cm / 7 inch) Springform cake tins with butter and dust with dry breadcrumbs.
Cream butter, Demerara sugar and egg yolks, then add ground hazelnuts, cocoa and baking powder. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them into the cake batter. Fill into the cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the pans, unmould when completely cooled and spread lingonberry compote over the top. Finish with a layer of whipped cream and shavings of dark chocolate or dark chocolate streusel.
Ergibt einen größeren Kuchen (26cm) oder 2 kleinere (18cm)
100g Butter, Zimmertemperatur
100g brauner Zucker (Rohrzucker)
150g gemahlene Haselnüsse
60g dunkles Kakaopulver
1 TL Backpulver
Butter zum Fetten der Form
Semmelbrösel / Paniermehl
1 kleines Glas Wild-Preiselbeeren (220g, ich nehme Alnatura)
¼ l Sahne
dunkle Schokolade (mindestens 60% Kakaoanteil) in Spänen oder dunkle Schokoladenstreusel (mindestens 60% Kakaoanteil, de Ruyter)
Backofen auf 200°C (Umluft 180°C) vorheizen und eine große (26cm) oder zwei kleine (18cm) Springformen buttern und mit Semmelbröseln ausstreuen.
Butter, Zucker und Eigelbe schaumig rühren, dann Haselnüsse, Kakao und Backpulver hinzugeben. Eiweiß steifschlagen und vorsichtig unterheben. Den Teig in die vorbereiteten Formen füllen und ca. 30 Minuten backen. In der Form vollständig auskühlen lassen. Preiselbeeren auf den Schokoladen-Haselnußboden geben, dann eine Schicht geschlagene Sahne auftragen und diese schließlich mit dunkler Schokolade oder Streuseln bestreuen.