Chocolate gateau basque with apricots, cherries & cassis

Chocolate gateau basque

I made a cake on my birthday, and it provoked a minor existential crisis. Making a cake for somebody else on their birthday is easy. You just arbitrarily decide that they like something (based, say, on a piece of cake they ordered at a restaurant a decade ago, which they might not have particularly enjoyed) and you make them the same kind of cake for every single special occasion ever for the rest of time. Easy! But to make a cake I like, on my own birthday, well…that raised all sorts of questions. I like chocolate, sure, but do I like chocolate cake? Not really. But I like brownies. What’s that all about? I love fruit, but what kind of fruit, and should it be fresh? Do summery fruits taste good when they’re baked in a cake? I like apple cake, but this isn’t October, for heaven’s sake. Good lord…DO I EVEN LIKE CAKE?!?!?!?!

I decided to make a cake with chocolate in it, but melted chocolate, not cocoa. And fruit, but with apricots and cherries baked in, and fresh fruit and ice cream coming in over the top of it, at the moment of ingestion. I decided to make it like the gateau basque I’d made a while back, because I loved that. I’d put apricots in, because I really like them, and I know Malcolm isn’t crazy about them, but that would be the selfish It’s-my-birthday-and-I’ll-bake-with-apricots-if-I-want-to part. I love cassis, so we’d be having some of that. And, of course…chocolate chips, because everything in life is better with chocolate chips. The boys helped me make the cake, and it was a lot of fun. Malcolm decorated it with my initial and my age, which looked much nicer than the pattern I would have made with the tines of the fork. We ate it with vanilla ice cream, and lovely fresh strawberries, blueberries and, as a special treat, rainier cherries. It’s a nice cake, because it keeps for days, so you can look forward to some with your coffee in the morning as a reason to get out of bed.

Chocolate basque cake

Here’s Black Sheep with The Choice is Yours. Sometimes it’s hard to be the decider! I love this song!

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 T rum
1 cup sugar
2 t vanilla
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
dash cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t salt

1 scant cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen black cherries, chopped
1/3 cup cassis

1 cup chocolate chips

Combine the apricots, cherries and cassis in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the apricots are soft and the cassis is mostly cooked down to a thickish syrup.

Meanwhile… Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, melt the two sticks of butter till just melted. Remove from the heat and stir in one cup of chocolate chips till they, too are just melted. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the rum, sugar and vanilla, and mix well. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. The dough should be quite stiff.

Butter and flour and line with a square of foil a 9-inch pan. (I use foil because I never have parchment paper. You don’t need to cut it to fit the whole bottom, just fold it in half so that it takes up most of the middle – that’s the part that sticks.)

Pour 3/4 of the batter into the cake pan. Top with an even layer of chocolate chips – but stop on all sides about 1 inch from the edge. Top the chips with the apricots and cherries, again, stopping an inch from the edge.

Dollop the remaining batter over the chocolate/fruit layers. Using a knife or the back of a spoon, connect the dollops so you have an even coating over the fruit and chocolate, and the top just looks like a flat layer of cake batter. You can make a pattern with chocolate chips or with the tines of a fork.

Bake for 30 or 40 minutes till the top springs back when you touch it lightly, and the cake starts to pull away from the pan. Let it cool for a bit before you turn it out.


6 thoughts on “Chocolate gateau basque with apricots, cherries & cassis

  1. Hi! My boyfriend and I had a delicious (plain) gateau basque at a fancy French restaurant in Toronto a few weeks ago. His birthday is coming up and I would like to bake a chocolate gateau basque for him and your recipe sounds delicious!

    A few questions:

    What kind of chocolate chips did you use? Will semi-sweet work?

    Can I substitute the cassis with Ribena or a black currant jam? If so, how much?

    Did you use white sugar or brown sugar?


    • I want to have Gatueau basque at a french restaurant in Toronto!! Sounds lovely!!

      The answers:

      I used semi-sweet ghirardelli chocolate chips… I use them in any recipe that calls for chocolate chips!

      You could use black currant jam, I think that might be even better, and I”d use about 1/3 cup. And you might need to add a spot of water or ribena if it seems too dry…actually, if you like the flavor of black currants, I’d say 1/3 cup black currant jam and a dash of ribena would be perfect. But you could also probably use raspberry jam and a bit of water, or any fruit you like.

      I used white sugar.

      Thank you so much for trying the recipe! And happy birthday to your boyfriend!!

      (I actually have another gateau Basque recipe with a more plain cake, and this one calls for black currant jam)

      • Hi Claire! I’m about to make the cake and I just read through the recipe again and wanted to confirm: there’s 1 cup of chocolate chips in the batter plus 1 cup chocolate chips in the middle layer plus extra chocolate chips for the top of the cake. Right?!

      • Yup! If you want it to look more like a traditional gateau basque, omit the chocolate chips on top and make a criss-cross pattern with the tines of a fork instead.

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