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Author Notes: This dessert originally started as an experiment on making a chocolate pasta dessert, but was changed to a Norwegian chocolate cake to have it fit in with the name "Ava Inferi". It is named after a goth metal band from Portugal that was fronted by a Portuguese singer, Carmen Simoes, and a Norwegian guitarist, Rune Eriksen, who are a couple. The concept started when I saw a bottle of Fado Red in a store, as the band incorporates fado, a traditional Portuguese music, into their compositions. "Ava Inferi" translates to "above below", which Eriksen describes as a "yin yang" approach to the band's music, and the dessert's elements-dark Norwegian chocolate cake (adapted from a Cooks.com recipe, replacing shortening with butter) and a spiced Portuguese red wine reduction paired with a simple marscarpone lime mixture and a homemade whipped cream-follows that concept. The whipped cream is a recipe from my mother for her shortcakes. —Zatoth
The Portuguese Wine Reduction
- 750 milliliters Portuguese red wine (such as Fado Red)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, cut in half and scored
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 10 white peppercorns
- 3 seckel or forelle pears (or small pears)
- 6-8 black mission figs (or another kind of fig)
- 10 Bing cherries
- 3 egg whites
- 1 & 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 & 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 8.8 ounces marscarpone cheese (for cheese filling)
- zest and juice of 1 lime (for chese filling)
- 1 pint heavy cream (for whipped cream)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (for whipped cream)
- 5 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- Cake first: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg whites and ¾ cup sugar until fluffy and set aside.
- Cream butter, salt, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla. Set aside.
- Make a paste of cocoa and hot water and add to creamed mixture. Stir lightly until blended.
- Add cold water and flour to creamed mixture alternately. Fold in egg white mixture.
- Dissolve baking soda into water and then add to mixture. Fold in gently with a wire whisk.
- Lightly grease or butter two 9” x 1-1/2” round cake pans and pour mixture into the pans.
- Bake 30-40 minutes. Check with butter knife or toothpick for doneness. Let cool and remove from pans to a rack.
- Wine reduction: Pour wine and add sugar and spices to sauce pot and bring to boil. Lower to rolling boil for at least a half an hour or until liquid reduces to about half. Stir occasionally.
- Cut pears in quarters and figs in half. Pit and cut up cherries. Grill on indoor clam shell grill (or on indoor grill or grill pan) until you get grill marks. Cut each fruit down to smaller pieces no bigger than a ¼ inch, preferably smaller. Add fruit to wine reduction to poach and continue to reduce to a third of the original amount of wine. Put aside once it reaches this point and remove vanilla bean.
- Cheese filling: Mix marscarpone cheese, lime and lime zest together.
- Put aside. It needs to be softened enough to spread onto the cake.
- Whipped cream: Using a wire whisk attachment, whip heavy cream, starting slow and gradually increasing speed, until it is thick and aerated enough to hold shape.
- Fold in vanilla and confectioner’s sugar.
- Assembling: Put one round of cooled sjokoladekake on a cake plate or tray. The cakes should be firm enough to move without break or crumbling.
- Spread the marscarpone cheese filling on the round on the plate, going all the way to the edge.
- Carefully pour the wine and fruit reduction over the marscarpone, spreading it around carefully. Do not use all of the wine and fruit, as the rest will be poured on top-just use roughly a half to a third. Allow wine to go down the sides of the cake round a little, but do not flood out the dish, as it will make the cake too soggy.
- Carefully place the second round so it is lined up and sitting evenly on the lower half and fillings.
- Pour rest of wine and fruit on the top, carefully spreading across the top and allowing the wine to run down the sides a little. Do not it flood out the plate. There may be leftover wine reduction. Save it for use on another dessert or to add to a slice of the cake later.
- Spread whipped cream over the top of the cake. There might be some color from the wine reduction streaked in-it is nothing to fret over. There will be leftover whipped cream. Save for another dessert or to add to a slice of the cake later. The whipped cream will retain its texture for about two days in a bowl.
- Optional-decorate using sifted cocoa powder and possibly a stencil. (I used the band's "AI" logo).