The accompanying desserts' theme was "competition of the bakeresses" (yes, the term exists, at least on Wiktionary).
An Anita Buche de Nöel - a chocolate one to weaken one of the hostesses to vote in favour of this one (and little did I know that this same hostess had also a weakness for marzipan, which the mushrooms surrounding the cake are made from)...
...Versus a newly featured bakeress - Jackie - and her cardamon cake - deliciously stuffed with walnuts and a nice spicy drizzle on top. You can sample more of Jackie's baking at Shaktea (see menu at Shaktea Desserts).
Well, after tasting each one and re-tasting, it was very difficult to vote given how different each was. Anita dazzled us with design, chocolate and cream while Jackie bewitched our taste buds with spices and old fashioned cake texture. So we opted to just forget about the competition with cognac flavoured with ginseng, gooseberry, and long'an, - soaking for three years now. What a wonderful treat!
Thank you again TaM!