Eva Grinstonís Chocolate Walnut and Sour Cherry Cake

13 June 2019

Eva Grinstonís Chocolate Walnut and Sour Cherry Cake


700g jar pitted sour cherries, drained (2 cups fruit)
200g dark chocolate,
60% or higher
200g butter, at room temperature
200g sugar
7 eggs, separated
200g/2 cups ground walnuts (or almonds)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

Chocolate Ganache
100g chocolate
50g butter
1 egg yolk, with a little water
3 tablespoons instant coffee

Pre-heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced, and butter and flour a large rectangular 35cm x 25cm baking tin.

Drain the juice from the cherries. You need only the fruit for this recipe.

Melt chocolate in microwave or in a double boiler (a pot set over a second pot containing gently boiling water, which allows the steam to melt the chocolate).

Cream butter, sugar and egg yolks till light, about 5-7 minutes. Add melted chocolate, now slightly cooled. Fold in nuts by hand.

Beat egg whites. Add ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, if desired. When stiff, fold them gently into the chocolate mixture.

Spoon cake mix into tin and smooth down. Place cherries evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, less if your oven is fan forced; test after 20 minutes by inserting a toothpick. It’s ready when it comes out dry with small crumbs clinging to it. This cake is best a little underdone.
Serve as is, cut into squares, or, for a special occasion, decorated with pomegranate seeds and chocolate ganache.

For the ganache, melt chocolate. Add butter and stir till combined. Stir in coffee and finally egg yolk. Pour over cake

Eva’s story

Sometimes a recipe is more than just a recipe. It comes with a family story and memories. It can transport you to another time and place. To another country. To your grandmother’s kitchen.

That’s true of this recipe from Eva Grinston, who arrived in Sydney as a refugee on Australia Day in 1950. Born in Slovakia, 89-year-old Eva is a devoted grandmother, a great cook and a Holocaust survivor.

As a teenager, the Nazis held Eva as a prisoner in the death camp of Auschwitz. Her mother, sister and aunt were murdered there. When Eva returned home after the war, she found it had been requisitioned by Russian soldiers. It seemed that little remained of her past – until she discovered her grandmother’s cookbook in the basement.
“I sat on a low fence outside the house where as a little girl I had observed life as it was then... My face was wet with tears. I had no hanky. I opened the cookbook and there were the recipes of my granny, and granny’s friends,” she recalls.

The book of hand-written recipes is a link to her past and also to her future – Eva bakes recipes from it for her grandchildren. “I want them to remember that there is a link with Europe in our family and I guess to not let the past die really, because it was beautiful while it lasted,” she says.
This wonderfully rich chocolate cake is on the table for all her grandchildren’s birthdays and has become one of their favourites. The sour cherries balance the chocolate, cutting the cake’s sweetness. In Slovakia, they picked the sour cherries off the tree. Here Eva buys them, imported from Europe. Sometimes, when she can’t find sour cherries, she uses tinned pineapple instead – a very local innovation.

Her recipes feature in a new book, Just Add Love: Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories and Recipes. Journalist Irris Makler has gathered the life stories and the recipes of more than 20 grandmothers – and two grandfathers – from across Russia, Europe and North Africa. “These are Jewish women with a universal message: you can rebuild your life even when you have lost everything,” says Makler.


>> Just Add Love is available now from bookshops or via justaddlove.net.au.

» This article was first published in Ed#588.