(In which Mr. P accepts his flaws.)
This doesn't really have much to do with lamingtons, but please bear with me; we'll get there.
I want to be good at making chutney. I feel like I should be. I love cutting up the vegetables into nice, small pieces, and weighing everything out carefully; I love collecting the jars to store my spicy and sour preserves in, and buying shiny new lids to use with them; I love the trip to my local spice merchants, Spice of Life, where I can be sure that no matter what conversation I try to strike up with the somewhat eccentric owner, I will no doubt end up buying something unusual that I don't need and hadn't gone in for (beetroot powder, for example).
I get the most immense satisfaction from hearing the lids pop when I bottle the chutney, knowing it means I achieved a perfect seal and can squirrel the filled jars away in the upstairs cupboard and give them away as Christmas gifts when they've matured a little, decorated simply with rosette or a bit of ribbon.
Yet all of this pleasure is ruined when I taste the chutney myself. Am I doing it wrong?
This year, we made and gave a lot of chutney as presents (everybody loves a cheeseboard). We also, happily, were given loads. I mean loads - our jam shelf looks like a W.I. stall at the moment. Crushingly, almost every single one of the jars we were given tastes nicer than what we made ourselves (at least to these taste buds), and it is just... devastating. It might be that chutney is also subject to the 'Somebody-Else-Made-This-For-Me-So-It's-Nicer-Than-One-I-Made-Myself' phenomenon - think cups of tea - but even so... Where is the justice? I want to like my chutney!
(I also can't bear the idea that our chutney really is below standard, and that the people we gave it to wish we hadn't bothered. That really is a worry.)
However (and here we start to come back to the lamingtons), for fear of not having enough jars of chutney or chilli relish or whatever to give as gifts, I also decided this year to bake loaves of gingerbread to give to family and friends, and they really were a success. Every person I gave a loaf to came back and told me that it was wonderful and could they have some more next year. What can I say? I know where my strengths lie (but am not giving up on the chutney - I have too many jars waiting to be used).
I recently re-baked and blogged about that gingerbread, and decided that it was going to do double duty for me and form the basis of my White Chocolate Gingerbread Lamingtons. And let me be clear: these are some of the most delicious cakes I have ever made. Ever. There's something almost tropical about the way the ginger and coconut flavours mingle with the sweet vanilla of the white chocolate, and yet at the same time, the lamingtons seem Christmassy and suited to cold days. I guess this means that you could have them everyday and they would always seem appropriately perfect.
Yes. I am sanctioning the eating of lamingtons every day.
I'm quite sure that these lamingtons would be marvellous with dark chocolate ganache enrobing them instead of melted white chocolate, but I chose not to use ganache for two reasons. The first was ease (I didn't want to mess about making a white chocolate ganache, which is trickier than making a good dark one, or at least I find it to be so), and the second being preference; I really like the way that the chocolate alone sets firm, and cracks satisfyingly when you bite into it. You must decide for yourself whether or not to follow suit; if you want a soft, creamy coating, then ganache is your friend.
The cake recipe is Nigella Lawson's; she allowed it to appear online here, so I am re-producing it here as well (though in the form of a half-batch, and slightly simplified - I don't muck about with bicarbonate of soda and warm water).
Forget chutney. Make these; they are fabulous.
White Chocolate Gingerbread Lamingtons
You will need:
For the gingerbread -
75g unsalted butter
100g golden syrup
100g treacle or molasses
75g dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, beaten
150g plain flour
For the coating -
400g white chocolate, melted
400g dessicated coconut
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter, syrup, treacle, sugar and spices together over a low heat.
- Mix the milk with the egg and bicarbonate of soda and set aside. Remove the butter mixture from the heat, and cool slightly before adding the milk and egg. Stir well.
- Put the flour into a mixing bowl, and pour over the liquid mixture, stirring all the time to prevent lumps. The odd lump here and there is fine though, so don't worry if you have a few.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remember gingerbread is sticky by nature, so a few crumbs are OK. What you don't want on the skewer is any uncooked batter.
- Cool the gingerbread in the tin, and once cold, turn it out onto a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap in parchment and store in a tin for up to 2 weeks.
- When ready to make lamingtons, cut the cake into 16 squares. Using a couple of forks, dip the cake cubes into first the white chocolate, and then the coconut. Roll them around to ensure a good coating, and allow to dry on a wire rack.