Merveilleux au Chocolat

Thought I'd post something sumptuous for Valentine's Day. I'm cheating a bit because my daughter made this, with a little help from me. It's a lovely dessert with a meringue base, delicious chocolate cream layer, more meringue, then topped with a good layer of grated chocolate.
You could buy 2 large meringue discs to save making them. This is a recipe from my French friend, and she says it originates in the North of France.

Meringues:  2 egg whites, 60g caster sugar and 60g icing sugar
Ganache:     150g dark chocolate, 150ml single cream
Topping:      100g grated dark chocolate

It's best to make the meringues the day before, but it's up to you!

Heat oven 160C/gas3              Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets

Beat egg whites till stiff and add half of the 2 sugars. Whisk again then add the other half and whisk till shiny.
Put into a piping bag and pipe into 2 large discs onto the papers. Bake for 1hr 30mins, then turn oven off and leave meringues to cool in the oven. 

Ganache - put the cream and chocolate in a pan over simmering water. Allow to melt slowly, stirring from time to time till melted and glossy. Take off the heat and pour into a cold container, cover with clingfilm and when cool put in fridge for 4 hours. Take out and beat with a hand mixer to get a sort of Chantilly cream [liked whipped cream].

Assemble the dessert - put one of the discs onto a serving plate then cover with half the cream. Put the second disc on top and cover with the rest of the cream. cover the top generously with grated chocolate and put in the fridge for an hour. Take out just before serving.

You could make 8 small discs instead of 2 large ones. Sorry, I didn't get to see it cut as J took it back with her. Ah well!
She says - 'It's very rich and moreish. The bottom layer of meringue seems to hold it texture better than the second one, which seemed almost to dissolve into the cream! Delicious all the same. A lovely treat for an occasion such as St Valentine's Day.'


Date and Banana Cake

I found some dates in the cupboard and looked for a recipe to use them up that wasn't sticky toffee!
I found this one which was perfect as I also had some ripe bananas to use. I think it's from an old free supermarket magazine.
150g dried stoned dates
4tbspn orange juice or dark rum
200g very ripe banana (peeled weight)
125g butter, softened
125g sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
2 large free-range eggs (or 2 smaller ones and a yolk)
175g sr flour
 Preheat oven  180oC/Gas 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin . 
Make sure that each date has been stoned and cut each into four using kitchen scissors.  Put the date pieces in a small pan, cover with the orange juice (or dark rum) and gently bring to the boil.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 
Mash the banana in a bowl with a fork.
Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, along with a tbspn flour with each one.
Sift in the rest of the flour, along with the mashed banana, the dates and their cooking liquid.
Pour the mixture in the lined cake tin, making sure it goes into the corners and the top is level.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  When it is cooked the top will spring back when it is lightly pressed.
7.  Turn out of the tin, removing the paper and cool on a wire tray.

I love the combination of flavours, the toffee like chewy dates and the soft banana, and cake has a soft texture.The recipe said to soak the dates in rum, but I'm not keen on it so used orange juice. You could use other dried fruit instead of dates, or add chopped nuts. I'll certainly make this again.