A friend of mine told me she’d met a woman who’d asked her to do a reading in a bathtub.
“What do you mean? Like, with water in it? Naked? Or with clothes on?”
“She’s going to host a literary salon in her home and she wants to cover her bathroom in red velvet. She wants me to read from the bathtub, with LOTS OF BUBBLES. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll have anything on underneath.”
“Ok, wow, count me in. But she’s going to have food, right? Does she have anyone preparing food? What about beverages?”
I’d bugged Shannon two or three times to know who was preparing the food for this thing, and let her know that if the author in question needed help preparing the food I’d be happy to lend a hand. Finally, about a week before the first event, I got a phone call from Anne.
“I would love your help preparing the food!”
The food for first salon was fairly low-key, planned only a few days in advance: beet tartare served in endive leaves, polenta topped with roasted peppers and chorizo, deviled eggs, etc.
The second salon I helped to cater would be deemed the Kingdom of Flowers, with big ideas to tantalize guests with flower-inspired treats. Orange blossoms? Lavender? Roses? Acacia flowers? And what to pair with it – chocolate? Almonds? Meringue? Vanilla? Lemon? My mind wandered…
After lots of thinking, lots of testing, lots of feeding of cupcakes to colleagues and friends, I came up with the menu:
- Persian Love Cupcakes with Rose Frosting
- Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Fondant
- Lavender Meringues
- Orange Blossom Olive Oil Cake
I bring you my favorite recipe amongst the bunch, which has become my go-to chocolate dessert (and it’s gluten free!)
Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Fondant
This can serve many, or a few – depending on how you cut it. In this instance I made tripled batches of it in large dishes and cut out small triangles to make “petit four” portions.
The basic recipe, here below, serves about 8-12, and is best made in a small spring form pan and cut like a pie. You can also make it in a square baking (brownie) dish, but beware it will be thicker.
Inspired by a recipe found on Chateau de Gardine’s website
For the base
140 grams of dried figs, re-hydrated in warm water, or port wine, or flavorful tea (Earl Grey, Russian Breakfast…)
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
130 grams almond meal
For the chocolate ganache
200 grams of dark chocolate (at least 65% cacao, 80% is better)
2 Tabelspoons pomegranate molasses
¾ cup plus 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
40 grams of butter (salted or not – as you wish)
Make the base:
Rehydrate the figs in about a cup of warm liquid for about 20 minutes. Once the figs are soft, drain them and reserve the liquid. Chop them in halves or quarters and blend them in a food processor with the almond meal and cocoa powder, adding a spoon or two of the liquid if the mixture is too dry. When done, it should resemble very moist cookie dough.
Press the base into a small (20-22cm, 8-10 inches,) springform pan that is lined with parchment paper. Once you have the base pressed down evenly, nearly flat, refrigerate it while you prepare the ganache.
Make the ganache:
Chop the chocolate up into chunks and put in a non-reactive bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the cream begins to simmer, pour it over the chocolate, whisking vigorously. Whisk the chocolate until evenly combined, then incorporate the pomegranate molasses and butter.
Place the bowl in the fridge, and take out to whisk again every 5 minutes for about 15-20 minutes, until it begins to cool and starts to thicken.
Take the base out of the fridge and pour the ganache on top, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula.
Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Can be served with small edible rose petals for extra garnish.