We are branching out into weddings this year which is a Very Exciting Development for us. The old place lends itself perfectly to small, intimate ceremonies and it’s amazing how good it looks once a few truck loads of toys have been cleared away.
This venture has also forced us to clear out the dreaded Billiard Room which has been used for decades as a dumping ground store room for things-that-no-longer-serve-a-purpose-but-you-just-never-know-so-best-keep-it-just-in-case. We got excited a few months back when Channel Four got in touch regarding a documentary they were planning to about helping poor unfortunate castle-dwelling folk de-clutter their vast spaces. It was all looking very promising but sadly we were ultimately rejected as the room was bizarrely deemed to be not enough of a shit-hole for them.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, that room is now completely empty thanks to a sterling effort from my husband and father-in-law. I am particularly proud of the latter who after much gentle persuasion, managed to throw out a mountain of 40yr old paperwork, 3 boxes of video tapes (the kids were all like, WTF are THOSE??) and several redundant vacuum cleaner parts . The rest of the crap has been rammed into two upstairs rooms to be dealt with later, ideally by another documentary team. (Come ON Channel 4 – we’d make great telly).
I got a bit above myself at a meeting with the chef (who incidentally is also the nurse, the school bus driver, a mother of four and a farmers wife, which is a career in itself. She makes Miss Rabbit from Peppa Pig* look like Waynetta Slob.), and found myself volunteering to make a dessert for the wedding feast. I chose a Chocolate Nemesis which I vaguely recall making years ago in a previous incarnation as a cafe worker in Edinburgh.
Luckily I had the foresight to do a practice version as the helpful world wide web informed me that it, “famously never works” and was the “the ruin of a million mid-Nineties dinner parties”.
There are only 4 ingredients but you need a bloody truckload of each:
- 675g dark chocolate
- 10 eggs
- 425g sugar
- 675g butter
My practice version involved a mercy-dash to a neighbour for eggs and chucking in a bit of cheapo cooking chocolate as I’d underestimated the dark chocolate situation.
It’s pretty easy:
- Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water
- Beat eggs and sugar in a 40yr old Kenwood blender, keeping an eye on 3yr old child who has a tendency to add random items to the bowl**
- Slowly fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs mixture and pour into a lined 27″ spring form cake tin. This sits in a Bain Marie of water.
- Panic when you realise the top of the Aga is too hot and the bottom oven is too cool.
- Have a “fuck it” moment and leave the bastard thing in the bottom oven all night
- Retrieve it in the morning and, as you remove from the tin, marvel at how clever you are to produce such an amazing looking ‘notoriously difficult’ dessert.
- Two hours later, curse yourself for not putting the twatting thing in the fridge as it collapses in a gooey heap on the plate, and your kitchen begins to resemble that scene in Trainspotting when Spud tries to conceal a nasty accident***
- Hurriedly scoop it into ramekins then belatedly leave in fridge to set before distributing to in-laws and neighbours
- Collapse into sugar/cocoa coma as you realise you’ve ‘accidentally’ ingested at least half of it.
Simples. It was all alright on the night, luckily, as I remembered to do the fridge thing and plates came back satisfyingly empty.
UPDATE: Have literally just this minute retrieved another one from the Aga for today’s wedding and it’s all looking good. I think this could really become a thing. Nevermind the documentaries (that aren’t happening), get me my own cookery show.
*if you are hitherto blissfully unaware of the heinous Peppa Pig franchise, you are a lucky, lucky bastard.
**I was making a pavlova and turned my back for 30 seconds. The Kenwood started emitting a hideous clunking sound and the 3yr old was looking a tad sheepish. I retrieved a 3″ screw from my fluffy mixture.
***Don’t google it.