Very sad to hear the news this morning of Rose Gray’s death, my sincere condolences to all her family, to Ruth Rodgers and all at the River Cafe.
Rose was greatly missed at the party to launch “The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook” on a very cold an windy evening in September last year, Henrietta Green remarked on the fact that Rose had signed all the books, but was not at the party. That was the first time I was aware of her illness. Rose was a Rococo customer over the years, and always immensely generous in her encouragement of anyone who was interested in food and ingredients. I attach my version of the famously controversial Chocolate Nemisis cake, which I wrote with the blessing of Rose and Ruth. In the recipe I talk about tasting some rough Venezuelan chocolate which had been sent to them and which they were trying out – I can now reveal that this chocolate was some of the early production of Willie Harcourt Couze, who was at that time unknown in the chocolate world. That must have been around 10 years ago…
Here is my recipe from my book Real Chocolate.
I have long admired the River Café from a distance, and through reading the books by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. They have a wonderfully clear vision of how to prepare and serve food at its best. They have certainly revolutionised many kitchens In the UK and around the world, and there is hardly a self-respecting chef in England who has not worked there at some time in their career. I had a surprise birthday lunch there recently, and was absolutely delighted when Ruth Rogers came to the table and declared Rococo to be her favourite shop. She then took me to meet Rose Gray and we talked chocolate for some time. Which chocolate did I use? What do they use? We all tasted some pretty raw chocolate that they had been given, and were experimenting with, from a plantation in Venezuela – the flavour of the excellent cocoa beans shone through. I had been dying to taste the famous Chocolate Nemesis, and so shared it for pudding. At the end of the meal Ruth invited me to meet Rose and asked me what I thought of it. Here I was, in front of these two gurus of modern Italian food, being asked for my opinion of one of their most famous creations. I said it was really delicious, extremely rich and very filling (we were unable to finish it), the texture sublime, but I found it just a little too sweet and buttery for my taste. Finally I asked if with their blessing I could tweak the recipe and put it into my book. I have changed the method of assembling the ingredients, but it seemed to produce the right texture, so here it is:
For 6 large or 12 normal portions.
Round tin 20cm x 5cm deep (not spring-fold!) line with buttered and floured greaseproof paper
- 4 organic eggs, separated
- 100g icing sugar
- 150g butter cut into small pieces
- 250g real dark chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%), chopped roughly.
- 2.5 oz water
- a pinch of salt
- a teaspoon of cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 160° C/ 325 F Gas 3.
- Butter your mould, and boil a large kettle of water for the bain-marie, pour into a baking tray large enough to hold the cake tin.
- Put 2/3rds of the sugar with the water in a pan, heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, then over a low heat add the chocolate to the water, and stir until it has melted, the stir in the butter. You should have a thick, glossy mixture. Remove from the heat. Whisk the remaining third of the sugar with the egg white and salt and vinegar (I don’t know why this works but it does seem to help), until they have reached meringue soft peak consistency. Now beat the egg yolks into the luke warm chocolate mixture, and finally add this mixture bit by bit to your meringue.
- Pour the batter into the buttered mould and place it into a baking tray filled with hot water, it is important that the water comes up to the rim of the tin. Carefully place into the hot oven, and bake for 30 minutes or until set. Test by placing you hand gently on the surface, or with a skewer – it should be just cooked and not sticky.
- Cool before de-moulding. Serve cold with crème fraiche.
Publisher: Quadrille Publishing Ltd (7 Mar 2003)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
Publisher: Michael Joseph (24 Sep 2009)