Chestnut, chocolate and cherry terrine

Chestnut, chocolate and cherry terrine.jpg
An alternative to the traditional fruitcake, this pressed terrine of chocolate and preserved cherries with just the right amount of richness, is a wonderful thing to have around during the holidays. Slicing off a sliver here and there can get you through those moments when you need a pick-me-up, or a burst of energy after a chilly winter walk.

Makes 1 large cake
100g dark chocolate (70-95% cocoa solids)
250g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt
3 eggs
100g plain yoghurt
210g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa powder

For the filling
500g dark chocolate (85-90% cocoa)
200g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
500g sweetened chestnut puree
100g double cream
400g jar (250g drained) black cherries in kirsch or syrup

1 Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Butter and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment. Line a 20cm loaf tin with clingfilm, leaving plenty overhanging on the sides.

2 Gently melt the 100g chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, then let it cool slightly.

3 Beat the softened butter, caster sugar and salt until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the yoghurt. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and cocoa and set aside.

4 Beat the melted chocolate into the butter mixture, keeping the bowl for melting the chocolate for the filling. Then add the dry ingredients until incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared square tin and bake until springy and a skewer inserted comes out clean – 50-60 minutes. When the cake is done, remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Turn out of the tin and cool completely.

5 Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the remaining chocolate with the butter in the same bowl over the pot of simmering water. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir in the sweetened chestnut puree and cream. Strain the cherries, adding half the liquid to the chocolate chestnut mixture and reserving the rest for the sponge. The chocolate mixture may split at this point, but it is easily saved by blitzing with a stick blender or putting in a food processor (a wonderful trick for all chocolate ganaches).

6 Now, using a serrated knife, split the cake into two layers. Then slice the cake down the middle so that you have 4 pieces of cake: two oblong halves, each containing two layers. Place one layer in the bottom of your prepared loaf tin and drizzle ½ of the remaining cherry liquid over it. Scatter ½ the cherries over the layer, and then pour over ½ the chocolate mixture and smooth over. Add the next cake layer and repeat, so you have three layers of sponge and two layers of cherry-ganache filling. Save the last ¼ of sponge for another day.

7 The terrine will come up above the loaf tin but don’t worry. Wrap the overhanging clingfilm over the terrine to seal it – add more if necessary. Press firmly on the terrine and weigh it down with a small cutting board with a heavy weight on top of that, such as a saucepan. Rest for 1 hour, then chill for at least another hour. To serve, turn out on to a serving plate or small board and remove the clingfilm. It will be plain looking and simple like a good terrine should be. Keeps in the fridge for two weeks, but bring out to room temperature 30 minutes before serving for the best flavour.

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