If your baking abilities are shaky at best, look no further than celebrated writer and cookbook author Annie Bell's Baking Bible. This thick volume has recipes for all your favorite desserts, plus a few you've never even imagined. Take these Black Forest Bars for example — they're perfect to cut into squares and share, or keep it a cake to serve some very impressed dinner guests.
The cake kicks off with the best of intentions, dutifully light and airy, but from there it is all downhill—or uphill depending on your take on the liberal drizzling of chocolate and orgy of Toblerone and candied cherries.
- unsalted butter or vegetable oil, for greasing
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 large eggs
- 1 2/3 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 2/3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
- 5 ounces dark chocolate (approximately 50 percent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 4 ounces Toblerone, finely sliced
- 3 ounces candied cherries, halved
- Whisk the cocoa with 1 cup boiling water, whisk in the baking soda and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF convection oven/350ºF conventional oven. Butter or oil a 9 x 12 inch nonstick baking pan, 2 inches deep — there is no need to line it unless you are planning to serve the cake whole.
- Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and oil in a large bowl, then fold in the flour and then the cocoa solution. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30–40 minutes until risen and firm and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and leave to cool.
- To make the icing, gently melt the chocolate with the syrup and cream in a bowl set over a pan with a little simmering water in it, whisking until glossy and smooth. Drizzle the icing over the cake, scatter the Toblerone slices, and arrange the cherries here and there. Set aside to harden for a couple of hours before cutting into squares. They will keep well in an airtight container for several days.
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