Date and Chocolate Torte and…Tragedy + Time

I have a wonderful friend who has teenagers just like me and we have so many similar stories you’d think we were living parallel lives.

I was on the phone to her this morning and she asked, ‘Have you ever had to support your child in Court, Charlie?’  And before I could answer she said, ‘Oh no, bet you haven’t’.  But I said, ‘Well I have actually’, but that’s a story for another day when you’ve all got plenty more time on your hands so today we’ll focus on my friend’s story because it happened quite a few years ago so it’s now hilarious because as they say, ‘Tragedy + time = comedy’.

Date and Chocolate Torte

My friend’s daughter was going to school but had a part-time job working on the ferries doing something rather ordinary and quite non-glamorous because she was going through a rebellious grunge phase.  One day a bloke from a country town right out west started working there and somehow he befriended her and somehow he talked her into buying his car for the bargain price of $200.00.  The only trouble was that the car was not registered, was full of rust, had the interior roof lining hanging down like the insides of an Arabian tent and had a floor swimming in soiled McDonald’s packaging.  My friend’s daughter was thrilled with her purchase and drove it home quite forgetting she didn’t yet have a licence.

Her parents were horrified, not only at the appalling sight parked in their driveway but at how their daughter had driven it home well aware she doesn’t have a licence.  The car was moved to a dark and quiet street and she was told not to drive it.

A few weeks later the daughter said she was going out with her younger sister.  ‘We’re just catching the bus to the hotel for a game of pool and then we’ll be home’.  So off they went and my friend went to bed but in the morning she had that feeling where she just knew something wasn’t right.

She went into her daughter’s bedroom and was surprised to see both girls in the room.  ‘What’s going on?’ she asked.

‘We’ve got something to tell you’, the younger one said.

‘Do I want to hear this?’ the mother asked.

And she probably didn’t.  Because when the girls left the house they had gone to the quiet and dark street and found the car and taken it to the hotel where they played pool and had a few drinks and met some boys who said they needed a lift to the ferry.  ‘I’ll drive you’, said the daughter.  So the four of them piled into the car with the roof lining sagging so badly it was touching their heads and they set off for the wharf.

‘Just a large wedge for me thanks’

They hadn’t quite made it when the car was pulled over by a random breath testing unit and realising she was ‘done-in’ she panicked and in her panic-stricken state she crashed into the policeman’s car.  The boys in the back thanked her for the lift and took off for the ferry but she and her sister were put inside the smashed and dented police car and driven to the station where she was put in a cell and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a licence, driving an unregistered vehicle and smashing into a police car.

My friend was leaning against the wall when she heard this and couldn’t believe her own child had been so reckless and stupid.  ‘I went to a very strict Catholic boarding school, Charlie, I never did anything like this.  Where does this come from?’  But there’s just no answer to that, just sympathetic and non-judgmental friendship.

On the day of the court appearance she pulled back her daughter’s hair back into one long plait, dressed her in a black turtle-neck jumper and a camel coloured pencil skirt with some black boots and off they went.  There were a lot of middle-aged women in the courtroom all charged with DUI and one by one they stood up and said, ‘But your Honour, I only had two glasses of wine’, and the judge bellowed into the microphone, ‘Don’t be so stupid.  A glass means nothing.  Have you seen the size of some wine glasses?  I could say I only had one glass of wine but there could have been half a bottle in there’.  And so it wasn’t looking good for my friend’s daughter with her multiple list of more serious crimes.

When her name was called she stood up and was visibly shaking.  The numerous charges were read out.  The judge said, ‘What have you got to say for yourself?’  She said, ‘I’m really (x 10) sorry and I’ll never, ever (x 10) do that again, ever, Your Honour’.  And he looked at her and said, ‘I fine you $500.00.  I want to take your car off you but I can’t because it’s not even registered.  And I want to take your licence but I can’t because you don’t even have one.  And as for crashing into a police car, I feel like I’m watching an episode of Keystone Cops.  You are banned from even trying to get your licence for another 12 months.’

And the teenage girl never, ever did anything like that ever again.

In times like these you need chocolate.  And I happened to have some wonderful chocolate in my pantry that was given to me by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  She gave it to me when we met for lunch a few weeks ago.  It is dark, fair trade 54% callubaut chocolate and has been perfect for this torte that also happens to be gluten free.

And it’s gluten-free!

Date Chocolate Torte

Serves:  8

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I used fresh dates and they are more expensive than dried dates.  The price will also vary depending on the quality of the chocolate you use.

  • 250g almonds, unpeeled
  • 250g dark cooking chocolate
  • 250g dates
  • 6 eggs whites
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar

Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Place almonds and chocolate in blender or food processor and chop into chunky pieces.  (I chopped my almonds by hand and the chocolate was already in little buttons).  Cut dates finely.

Beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and gradually add castor sugar.  Fold in almonds, chocolate and dates.  Pour into a greased 23cm spring form pan lined with baking paper.

Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes.

Open oven door slightly and allow torte to cool in tin.  Turn on to a platter and refrigerate overnight.

To serve:  Spread top of torte with whipped cream and garnish with grated chocolate, nuts or strawberries.

(This torte will crumble if cut while still warm.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several days).

This recipe is from  Vogue Australia, Wine and Food Cookbook 1985!

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  1. Henrietta Tilelli says:

    I’m usually too intimidated to try one of your “Baked Goods” recipes. I’m a poor cake/desert cook, but that cake looks amazing and not too hard, 2/5 . If your friend could survive that experience ,then I can bake a cake !! Love your blog look forward to many more tales of the ordinary culinary genius/mother/housewife …….. 🙂

  2. Oh, I have this recipe on my blog too, and it’s always a super big hit of awesomeness! I tend to use Whittaker’s almond dark chocolate block to up the nut quotient in mine 🙂

    As for the Court story… holy smokes. Sometimes reading your blog reminds me of how not-wild-child my teenage years were! I’ve never done any kind of crazy illegal behaviour as I just believe, deep down, I’d be caught. (And that it’s wrong, of course 😛 ) Even as a 25 year old, I’m terrified of getting in my car after one light beer!

  3. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    The judge certainly had a delightful sense of humor. Keystone Cops, indeed.

  4. I went to a Catholic girls school too and I never did anything silly. I was too scared of the consequences. My kids were good students and I didn’t have to go to court but that was probably more to good luck than good planning. Neither was a saint.

    In a few years your friend will laugh with her daughter about this but I bet there was a lot of stress in that household at the time. Poor things.

    I bought some lovely Callebaut last week and it would sit nicely in this cake. It looks delicious. Aren’t you lucky to have lunch with the fabulous Celia AND get chocolate!

  5. This torte looks like absolutely delicious, Charlie. What a shame that happened, but fortunately no one was hurt and it was a very good life lesson for the young woman.

  6. Joanne @ eats well with others says:

    I need to show this to my mom so maybe she’ll realize how lucky she’s had it with me and my sister! And perhaps forget about that time I tried to sneak out to a club (unsuccessfully, might I add)

  7. I love that…words to live by, Tragedy + Time = Comedy. Great post and a wicked looking torte to boot!

  8. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    Great title for an unfortunate situation. It sounds to me like the young woman actually had a fairly lenient judge, given the circumstances. It is great that she turned her life around afterwards. As for the dessert–wow. And how simple.

  9. Well at least she learned the lesson!!! hahaa the cake looks great!!!

  10. I breathed a little heavier reading this post, Charlie. I didn’t breathe at all during some of those teenage years! Every time they leave the house you wonder what’s going to happen next. You are so right, though, we look back now and even laugh at some of the scrapes the children got into during those years. At the time I didn’t think we’d be able to hold our heads up again! 🙂 And yes, chocolate solves most of my problems anyway. This is a delicious looking torte! I am so sorry for what your friend and her daughters went through, but glad everyone is okay. I’ll bet they would enjoy the torte, too! 🙂

  11. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Some days I am grateful that I never had children but then think to myself – what stories I would have to share…
    Heavenly cake!
    🙂 Mandy

  12. Charlie, I’m glad you liked the chocolate, and your cake looks wonderful. I read the rest of the post through my fingers as I had my hands over my eyes in trepidation… 🙂

  13. This dessert looks so good and I think the carbs would be doable for me … Loved the story, as well.

  14. Well I guess I have all of these things to look forward to when I have teenagers one day. Th cake looks like a nice thing to come home to after a day like your friend’s.

  15. Wow… that’s a pretty scary story but some teenagers really don’t think and get into quite a lot of trouble! OOO this is a great recipe and I love how i have all the recipes here ~

  16. Now that is just downright amazing that she got off with such a light sentence! I suspect her age may have had something to do with.. us “more mature” women all know better. Ahhh, the things our kids do…

  17. yummychunklet says:

    Dates in a chocolate torte? Great idea!

  18. InTolerantChef says:

    I’ll have a very large wedge of that cake too please Charlie!
    I bet the judge read the situation, saw that this was probably a good wake up call for the girl, and unlikely to be repeated. Sometimes a nasty experienced like that early on is the best defense against the early start of a career criminal 🙂

  19. Vanessa Carnegie says:

    Charlie, you just made my day. I have seven egg whites in the fridge from when I made ice cream and lemon curd over the weekend, and didn’t want to make meringue, but this solves my problem. Thank you a million times over.
    Teenagers do dumb things. When I was in year 12 three guys were in a car crash. They were driving an unregistered, unroadworthy paddock basher whilst unlicenced, under the influence of alcohol and in the possession of drugs. They were also speeding, and the passenger in the rear (sitting in the middle seat with a knee behind each front seat) wasn’t wearing a seatbelt which is how he came to break his pelvis (and spend three months in hospital) when the car hit the tree. The driver, as the story goes, was unhurt and the other passenger had a badly fractured arm.
    Actually, allow me to rephrase. The “cool kids” did dumb things. Us geeks would do our drinking at home and stay put!

  20. that is one impressive torte! sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. it’s all a learning game 🙂
    would love a large wedge as well

  21. What a story – you are definitely right that time + tragedy leads to enjoyable outsomes for audiences! I wonder if your friend can laugh at it yet though?! I suspect her daughter may not 😛
    I’d love a large wedge of this, it looks absolutely amazing!

  22. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says:

    I love the idea of dates and chocolate together! Celia is just the nicest!

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    The young lady was lucky she had a good judge, one who saw her for what she was: a teen that made a stupid mistake. He could have made things much worse for her. This cake sounds delicious, Charlie. Next time I see fresh dates, I’m going to pick some up.

  24. Oh that story is just precious!!! hehe. I have a friend that is on a grain free diet because of thyroid problems at the moment and she is feeling a bit depressed over it all….think I might have make this for her! But only if I can have a piece too 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve heard that if you have thyroid issues you should avoid wheat so this is a great dessert for your friend and she won’t even be aware it is gluten-free! xx

  25. OMG give me chocolate – I need it to calm my anxiety after reading that story.

  26. Oh dear – I was a bit of a tearaway when I was a kid but I never did anything which was downright illegal like this. Her poor mom! 😀 Lucky she had a nice judge though… he sounds like a good sort.

    Love the look of the cake Charlie – dates and chocolate together must be a fabulous combo!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Charles. Yes, I did some things as a teenager and my mother thought I was giving her grey hairs but I’m thinking she had it pretty easy compared with what some parents of this generation’s children are having to put up with xx

  27. Choc Chip Uru says:

    I do not have the guts to even try something so rebellious and dangerous! I am happy though she got away quite lightly though my friend!
    As for this torte, it is exactly what is needed after such an ordeal – delicious 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  28. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Phew! I’m glad that it had a happy ending. Things are so tempting when you’re a teenager, I’m surprised I didn’t get into more trouble! 🙂

  29. JasmyneTea says:

    At least the girls ended up alright and safe! Love recipes that incorperate dates, I’ll give this one a go!

  30. Pheww… one lucky girl! I guess she learned the hard way..
    Charlie I just love this torte it;s amazing, I am so making this!

  31. I’m glad that everything was ok in the end!!
    I love that this recipe only asks for 5 ingredients, and it looks amazing!!

  32. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Oh Charlie, some of us need chocolate all the time, not just in times of trouble!

  33. 5 ingredients for a delicious dessert like that! wow thats amazing

  34. says:

    THis is an oldy but a goody and Ive never seen it look so nice

  35. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    looks like a gorgeous cake! eeek talk about everything going wrong at once!

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