Coffee Chocolate Nut Slice
Russell Degnan

The good thing about slices is that provided you have time to wait for each layer to set, they are generally very quick, and very forgiving. This particular recipe was made up in order to try a particular technique - namely, boiling cream with coffee in order to make a coffee ganache. Everything else is just there to work around the coffee taste which is great, but pretty strong.

Nut and Berry Biscuit Layer

100g Almonds, chopped
100g Walnuts, chopped
100g Blueberries, chopped
150g Basic biscuits, crushed
200g Condensed milk
80g Butter, melted
1tsp Cinnamon, ground

1. Combine ingredients, adjust liquid amounts to create something that holds together but no more.
2. Line pan with baking paper, press into pan. Bake for 10min to lightly brown.

Easy. Using biscuits (Marie in this case) is the cheats way of making a slice, but it is fast, and it didn't matter really. Those quantities are completely made-up; they'll work; they are just made-up if you want it to look like the picture. When you aren't baking it doesn't really matter, as long as it holds together, and as long as the nuts aren't too big, and you have enough liquid, it will. While this is baking...

Coffee Chocolate Ganache Layer

400g Chocolate, dark
100ml Cream
200g Condensed Milk
1 Coffee bag (about a teaspoon)
40ml Kahlua
20g butter, softened

1. Put Coffee Bag into Cream and bring to boil, remove from heat and let steep for a few minutes.
2. Remove bag and squeeze liquid from bag gently over chocolate. (If you don't have a bag, you need to strain the cream with a muslin cloth, replacing lost mass).
3. Add condensed milk to cream and bring to boil again, boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Pour over chocolate, and emulsify by stirring centre then outwards.
5. Add Kahlua and melted butter, stir edges until no liquid remains on edge of bowl.
6. Pour over biscuit layer. And leave at least 1 hour to set.

Not quite as easy. This is more fudgy than a typical ganache, but the condensed milk will thicken and caramelise a little, which is why it goes in after the coffee is removed. Coffee bags are a new thing, but they make this task a lot easier because you don't need to strain it; the light squeezing will capture a lot of flavour because the aim is to make this layer quite strong - almost inedibly strong, as it is offset by the sweetness and chewiness of the other parts.

Vanilla White Chocolate Layer

150g Chocolate, white, melted
20ml Cream
5ml Vanilla paste (or equivalent essence)

1. Melt the white chocolate to 40degrees and stir in the cream and vanilla.
2. Quickly, with as few light strokes as possible, smooth over surface of the ganache layer.
3. Leave to set (1 hour).

I hate white chocolate. Too thick. Too easy to over-cook. Too quick to set when worked. If you look carefully you can see speckles of unmelted white chocolate because this was a disaster. But no matter; that's the beauty of a slice. In short, the cream makes it easier to cut, because it is no longer pure chocolate but a really hard ganache, and therefore won't crack easily.

Surprisingly, this worked amazingly well. Each layer is, by itself, extremely strong. The biscuit layer is almost pure nuts and berries; the coffee ganache layer is bitter and harsh; and the vanilla white chocolate is ludicrously sweet. But in combination they really came together. It could probably use slightly less biscuit, and slightly more dark chocolate (or just be thinner), but I'm quite happy with it.

Not that you can really go wrong with a slice.

Finer Things 2nd December, 2013 22:40:56   [#]