Adding a Cornelian Twist to the Black Forest Cake

The Cornelian cherry, named after the similarly colored gem, is a small red fruit native to different locations throughout the Caucasus, the south of Europe and parts of the Middle East. It’s been credited with lowering fever and treating aches in the lower back and knees. The fruit only ripens after it falls from the tree and grows in lush forests throughout the north of Armenia where it is referred to as ‘hon.’ The sweet taste of the ‘hon’ has made its way through Armenian food culture where its presence can be felt in jam, juice and even vodka.

During chef Nathan Kibarian’s cooking atelier at TUMO Studios, the Cornelian cherry was used to give the classic American dessert, Black Forest Cake, a little Caucasian flavor.

Hon Jam

1kg Cornelian cherry

1.25kg sugar, granulated

300ml water

½ lemon

1. Wash the Cornelian cherries well and place them into a large pot that’s roughly 3 times larger than the amount of fruit.

2. Measure the sugar and pour it over the fruit, then add the water.

3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture starts to boil.

4. Once it begins to boil, strain the fruit mixture through a food mill to remove all the seeds, then return to the pot.

5. Squeeze the half lemon into the pot, add the rind.

6. Cook the jam to 103°C, skim off any foam that forms.

7. Once it has reached temperature, pour the jam into glass jars and seal. Allow to cool overnight.

Chocolate Sponge Cake

6 eggs

180g sugar

140g flour

40g Cocoa

2g Baking Powder

Pinch of vanillin

1. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.

2. Place the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with a mixer and whip attachment on high speed until very foamy. The mixture should create a ribbon of foam when lifted out of the bowl.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, vanillin and baking powder in a separate bowl.

4. Gently fold in the flour mixture into the egg foam.

5. Mix until all dry ingredients have been absorbed.

6. Pour into a springform cake pan that is only greased on the bottom. This will allow the cake to grip the sides of the pan and rise evenly.

7. Bake at 190°C until firm in the center and a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Cool the cake completely before removing from the pan.

Soaking Syrup for Cake

200g sugar

200ml water

30ml cognac

1. Boil the sugar and water to make a syrup

2. Allow the syrup to cool slightly, then add the cognac and mix.

3. Cool completely before using on the cake layers

Chantilly cream for icing cake

750g heavy cream

100g powdered sugar

150g sweetened condensed milk

Pinch of vanillin

1. Chill the whipping bowl and heavy cream.

2. Add the powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and vanillin and whisk until a medium stiff peak is reached.

3. The cream should be stiff enough to ice the cake without losing shape.

4. Be careful to not over mix the cream or it will break and turn to butter.

Shaved Chocolate

Dark Chocolate 300g

Grate the chocolate on a box grater and set aside.

Cake Assembly

1. Remove the cake from the pan and place on a cake board.

2. Cut the cake into three even layers, set aside, brush off any extra crumbs.

3. Place the first cake layer onto the cake board and lightly ladle the syrup on the cake to soak the layer.

4. Spread about 75g of jam on the first layer of cake.

5. Spread the chantilly cream onto the cake layer about 2 cm thick.

6. Repeat for the second layer.

7. Repeat for the third layer.

8. Ice the sides of the cake with more Chantilly cream and smooth out all the edges.

9. With your secondary hand hold the cake up and use your dominant hand to press the chocolate shavings onto the sides of the cake. Continue this around the cake.

10. For the top of the cake fill a piping bag with the Chantilly cream and pipe 12 rosettes around the outer edge of the cake. Each will represent a serving of cake.

11. The top of the cake can be left bare or you can add more hon jam or chocolate shavings as garnish.