Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fräulein Valerie

Valerie lived a life of virtue, of purity, of respectability. A pillar of her community and an example to others her righteousness was only matched by her incorruptibility. Or at least that is what she would have you believe. For you see, as the matriarch of the notorious Vienesse Baking Mafia, Fräulein Valerie's public and private personae were two different animals entirely. Behind closed doors the Fräulein would put to work an army of minions and all were tasked with the same singular purpose, to create cake after cake after cake. With her underground network of fellow firebrands she flooded the bootleg bakeries of Austria with a profusion of sweet sin and nothing was off limits, from the most luxurious of chocolates, to headily perfumed syrups, to every kind of fruit and nut one could imagine. Her influence was everywhere yet her name but a whisper, spoken only in hushed tones and in dark alleys. What was clear though was her message, that indulgence is necessary. To be refined and restrained is admirable, but now again we must allow ourselves a moment of abandon, a moment of unadulterated luxury, be it an expensive extravagance or an everyday treat. And what better everyday treat is there than a delicious slice of cake?

Caramelised White Chocolate Valerias

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 30 Mins
150g Caramelised White Chocolate (Recipe here)
150g Unsalted Butter
2 Eggs and 1 Yolk
150g Light Muscovado Sugar
150g Ground Almonds
50g Plain Flour
1tsp Vanilla Extract

For the Caramelised White Chocolate Icing
20g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
40g Icing Sugar
35g Caramelised White Chocolate (Melted)
A splash of milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a small rectangular baking tin with baking paper (around 27x22cm). Melt together the caramelised white chocolate and unsalted butter, either over a bain marie or in the microwave (if you are confident in your timings). Once creamy and smooth set to one side for a few minutes to cool slightly. Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and whisk together until pale and fluffy. Add half of the almonds and flour, fold through, then add the melted chocolate and butter and do the same.  Finally, throw in the rest of the almonds and flour, along with the vanilla extract and continue folding through until evenly combined. Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth evenly to the edges. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until an even golden on top, then remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Once cool, remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Using a sharp knife slice into bars or squares, then it's onto the icing. Cream together the butter and icing sugar, then add the melted chocolate along with a splash a milk and mix until smooth and silky. Drizzle generously over each of your slices and your Valerias are finished.

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