Not my birthday but the blondes and I wanted to bake something special for her. She spent some time in Austria so Sachertorte was my first thought but I've baked that before and as this was really about having an excuse to go for broke with a really indulgent recipe I wanted to do something new (it didn't occur to me for a moment to consult my dearest friend about what she might actually want).
After some serious time with the baking books (I was like a pig in mud) I found a recipe for Tyrolese Schokolade Torte in Geraldene Holt's 'Cakes'. Perfect. Not only an Austrian theme but also quite unlike anything I've ever baked before. It calls for a buttered and lined 23cm spring clip cake tin and an oven set to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4. When that's sorted you need 150g of fairly finely ground hazelnuts (mine were a bit to ground I think) and 150g of finely chopped plain chocolate (I didn't chop as fine as I would a second time) prepared and set aside. Next 5 eggs need to be separated, the yolks beaten with 150g of pale muscovado sugar until it's light and fluffy at which point the chocolate, and nuts should be folded in along with 1/4 of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and about half as much of ground cloves. Finally the egg whites need to be whipped until fairly stiff and gently folded into the rest of the mix (I found the mixture really stiff at this point so beat some of the egg white in to loosen it up a bit before folding in the rest of the whites). After that stick it in the tin, smooth it down, and bake for 45 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. After it comes out the oven allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then release from the tin and leave to cool.
To finish off and decorate warm a couple of spoons of apricot jam and brush over the top of the cake (nice and thick) then make a plain chocolate ganache (175g of plain chocolate and 6 tablespoons of double cream gently melted together until smooth) cover the cake (again nice and thick) and leave for a couple of hours to set. The book says it's better made the day before you want it which is just fine, I thought the overall effect was rather like the jammy-in-the-middle-chocolate-on-the-outside-lebkuchen that I used to love and haven't been able to find to buy for the last couple of winters. The chocolate stays in chips (which is good) and the nuts give a great texture.