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Princess Diana’s chef shares recipes prepared for royal family, photos

What do your serve a queen as a birthday treat?

The obvious answer is anything she wants. In the case of Queen Elizabeth II, it is a sinfully rich chocolate cake with six eggs, Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate, Dutch cocoa and butter.

The recipe, with dozens of other palace favorites are included in the fascinating new “Eating Royally: Recipes & Remembrances From a Palace Kitchen,” compiled by Darren McGrady, former private chef to Princess Diana.

Since McGrady had access to the British royal family, he knew and prepared the elegant foods that they liked. His recipes include traditional English fare such as Beef Wellington, Cornish pasties and mince pies, plus the more exotic delights of Croques Monsieur, Framboises St. George and Lobster Thermidor.

McGrady, son of a hotel chef, developed a passion for gourmet cooking at an early age. After a stint at the Savoy Hotel in London, he began his work as a junior chef at Buckingham Palace.

His collection includes 100 recipes as well as personal memories of life with the royal family and dozens of stunning photographs.

Three recipes were tested from Eating Royally. The Scottish Thistle Shortbread tasted a great deal like the house favorite I had several years ago at the Gresham Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Equally satisfying was the Cottage Pie, which McGrady writes Diana’s sons William and Harry demanded at least once a week.

The most complex recipe – but worth the effort was the Royal Birthday Cake. Since I am diabetic, I used my friends in the Tucson Citizen newsroom as guinea pigs. It was a big hit.

Incidentally, each year Queen Elizabeth II has scones, tea sandwiches, Raspberry Tartlets and this cake at her birthday tea.

Larry Cox’s “Shelf Life” reviews of fiction and nonfiction books runs Thursdays in Calendar Plus. His “Treasures and Trends” antiques column runs Fridays in Weekend Plus, Weekend Plus.


Royal Birthday Cake

1 pound Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate, chopped and divided

2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, divided

Prepare at least six hours before baking the cake. Put half the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a separate saucepan, bring half the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate, letting the chocolate melt. Whisk it until smooth and well incorporated. Refrigerate until it cools and thickens to the consistency of a spreadable icing.

6 egg yolks

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch pan and line it with buttered parchment paper. Set a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan half filled with simmering water. The water should not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar to the mixing bowl, and whisk together allowing the heat from the simmering water to warm the mixture. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa together.

Keep whisking the egg mixture until it doubles in volume. Gently fold in the flour and cocoa mixture. Then fold in the cooled butter. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when pressed. Remove the cake to a cooling rack.

For the topping:

Put the remaining half of the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a separate saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate, letting it melt. Whisk it until smooth and well incorporated, and the asset it aside while you assemble the cake.

For the assembly:

Slice the cake into three horizontal layers. Place the bottom later on a cooling rack. Using the refrigerated icing, top the bottom disc with a thick layer of icing, and then add the next layer, with another layer of icing. Place the top of the cake over the second layer of icing.

Ladle the warm chocolate icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Cool the cake for at least 2 hours before decorating with chocolate.

Makes 10 servings.

Source: “Eating Royally: Recipes & Remembrances From a Palace Kitchen” by Darren McGrady (Thomas Nelson, $24.99)


Read more of Cox’s cookbook reviews on the “Recipes” link on the bottom right of the home page.

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