Mon10202014

Food & Wine

Baking leaves time for love


In one of winter’s hottest pop songs, “Royals,” the artist Lorde sings, “And we’ll never be royals, it don’t run in our blood. That kind of luxe just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz.”

I have to disagree. I think anyone can feel a royal buzz – courtesy of simple chocolate, hazelnut and biscuits – once they’ve had a taste of my “lazy cake.”

The lazy cake is not your typical Middle Eastern dessert, but it has been popular in the Arab world from Egypt to Lebanon and beyond for decades.

The cake is called “lazy” because there is no baking required. Instead of flour, the foundation consists of crushed English digestive or Marie biscuits – no doubt a remnant of British colonization in the Middle East. This cake is popular in the Arab Gulf States as well, because there is no need to turn on an oven, a plus in the hot desert climate.

While watching a program on the wedding preparations for Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, my laser focus turned to Prince William’s groom’s cake. I realized that his chef was actually creating a lazy cake as I saw him stirring crushed biscuits with chocolate sauce. Who knew that the same dessert my grandmother would make, wrapped in foil in the freezer, would take on a fancier form as the dessert centerpiece at the royal wedding.

The word “cake” doesn’t adequately describe this fudgy confection, which is more like a fusion of cookie and cake. I make my lazy cake with a twist, using chocolate hazelnut butter and ganache for an extra- special taste and presentation. For a variation on that same old box of chocolates, try making this addictive cake for your loved ones. They will no doubt feel like royalty.

Blanche Shaheen is a food blogger and journalist who lives in Los Altos. For more recipes, visit feastinthemiddleeast.com or youtube.com/blanchetv.

Lovestruck Lazy Cake

• 36 Marie biscuits or 20 digestive biscuits

• 1/2 stick butter, softened

• 3/4 cup condensed milk

• 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

• 4 rounded tablespoons cocoa

• 2/3 cup chocolate hazelnut butter (I use Nutella brand)

• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Ganache (optional)

• 1/2 cup heavy cream

• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Place cookies in large plastic bag. Pound with mallet until they resemble coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Mix condensed milk, cocoa, sugar, butter, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and Nutella in bowl. Microwave for approximately 1 minute, then mix until smooth or butter is completely melted. Gradually fold in cookie crumbs.

Take either 9-inch cake pan or bread loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Form lazy cake into whichever mold you choose, pressing down firmly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if planning to eat that day or freeze to eat at a later time.

When ready to serve, cut into slices. You can always freeze what you don’t eat by wrapping the cake with foil.

For a fancier presentation, melt the other 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and cream in a double boiler and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth, making a ganache. I usually put chips in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of boiling water for this method. Pour mixture over the Lazy Cake and serve.

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