Monday, 6 September 2010

Little Boxes...

...makes me think of the Pete Seeger song, but these are not at all ticky tacky, just very rich and chocolatey. I made an easy dinner for my sister, and put more effort into a prepare-ahead dessert. These used to be my dessert of choice on my birthday when I was growing up, although Mum used to make them with After Eights. In hindsight I wonder how on earth we managed to eat them - they would have been bigger, and these days I couldn't eat more than two After Eights in a sitting, never mind the cake and chocolate cream. And as my sister pointed out, she's sure we didn't used to have chopped pistachio either, just birthday candles.
The recipe comes from an old Family Circle Christmas magazine dating back, I think, to the early sixties. At least, we presume that Mum brought it with her when she moved here from Canada - she'd certainly never have got it here back then. I can remember doing some of the crafts from it, too. There are lovely string balls made by dipping coloured yarns in starch and wrapping them round balloons. Then when the starch is set, you burst the balloon and are left with a lovely lacy balloon shape. I remember we made those one Easter...



Saint-Honoré Chocolate Creams (Saint Honoré is the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs)
12 servings

Boxes:  4 squares unsweetened chocolate, 1 6 0z package semi-sweet chocolate pieces and 2 tblsp butter. (Given that we STILL can't get unsweetened (as in Bakers) chocolate here in the year 2010, no wonder my mother opted for After Eights back in the seventies!!)
Combine these ingredients and heat gently over hot water till melted. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spread the chocolate into a 13"x10" rectangle. When cool but not totally set, mark into 1 1/2" squares and then leave for several hours till set firm.

Filling: 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 square unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 eggs.
3 slices pound cake cut 3/4" thick.
Finely chopped pistachios.

For the filling, cream the butter till soft, and then add the sugar very slowly (take about 10 minutes) beating continuously. Mix in the cooled chocolate and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 4 or 5 minutes after each addition. Chill till firm. Although it starts out slightly granular because of the sugar, in the end it is ultra-smooth and rich and creamy. And I suppose not to be made if you think your local eggs might be contaminated with salmonella.

To assemble: cut 12 strips of double-thickness tin foil 1" high by about 7" long. Make a cardboard form 1 1/2" square and using paper clips to hold it, form the foil into square collars. Put on a board.
Cut the cake into squares a bit smaller than 1 3/4 inch, so that when you fit the chocolate around them, it will fit. Put a square of cake into each foil collar, and then carefully slip in the chocolate squares. Fill generously with the chocolate cream and sprinkle with nuts. Chill till serving time. To serve, unclip the paper-fasteners and remove the collars.

I went the whole hog and tried making a pound cake as I didn't think I'd ever made one before (well, I made a half-pound cake, as I didn't want too much left over), but I think if I make these again I'd make something lighter like a Genoese sponge.
We ate six on the night, my sister took a couple home in a doggy bag and we'll finish them off tomorrow.

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