The Black Forest gateau must be on the verge of becoming extinct. This retro classic sat around on the dessert trolleys of too many hotel and restaurant dining rooms throughout the Sixties and then it exhausted itself. But there's nothing wrong with a Black Forest gateau, as long as it's made well with quality ingredients. This recipe is a subtle reinvention.
Fortunately, I managed to get my hands on a jar of Julian Temperley's Morello cherries in Somerset apple eau de vie (£12.50 via ciderbrandy.co.uk, or telephone 01460 240782). Alternatively, use cherries in kirsch.
Julian's cider brandy has been going down a storm in my new restaurants in Smithfield and Dorset – and Johnny, my manager in Lyme, has even created a Hix fizz with a Temperley cherry dropped into a glass of champagne.
For the cherry purée
200g cherries, stoned
100g caster sugar
For the vanilla ice cream
400ml full-cream milk, such as gold top or Jersey
One and a half vanilla pods
1/2 tsp Bourbon vanilla essence
400ml Jersey or clotted cream or a mixture
6 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
For the coupe
150g grated good-quality dark chocolate
100-120g chocolate cake, or a large chocolate muffin
40 cherries in kirsch or eau de vie
60ml double cream, whipped
Put the stoned cherries into a saucepan with the sugar and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Blend in a liquidiser to a coarse purée and leave to cool.
Put the milk into a saucepan. Split the vanilla pods lengthways with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the milk with the point of the knife, then add the pods as well. Bring the milk to the boil and remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together then pour the milk on and whisk well. Return to the pan on a low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly using a whisk, but don't let it boil. Remove from the heat, take out the vanilla pods and whisk in the cream. Leave to cool then churn in the ice-cream machine. When it has set, remove from the machine and transfer to a container; carefully stir in the cherry purée and grated chocolate to form a rippled effect. To serve, break the chocolate muffin into serving dishes. Douse with the liquid from the cherries then ball the ice cream on to the sponge; scatter over the cherries.