Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My favorite chocolate cake

This cake is known by many names. I believe the technical term for it is gâteau au chocolat fondant, but in Molly Wizenburg’s book A Homemade Life (which is where I found this recipe), she refers to it simply as “Winning Hearts and Minds Cake.” When I first made this cake for a birthday luncheon, my siblings gave it a less flattering moniker: Ugly Cake.

True, this cake is no beauty queen. Next to the one my sister made--a fluffy white thing covered in clouds of whipped cream and fresh fruit--it did indeed look too brown, flat, and, well, ugly. But then we tasted it. And discovered that underneath that rustic, crackled exterior was a damp, fudgy cake whose texture I can only describe as a mix between a brownie and a souffle. With no icing or frosting to sweeten it up excessively, it tasted only of pure, rich chocolate. I can’t speak for the rest of the family, but for a chocoholic like myself it was pure heaven.

I recently made this cake again for yet another family function. This time around my siblings and I realized it needed a different name--one that conveyed all the deliciousness trapped in that plain package. Here’s what we came up with:

Inner Beauty Cake

7 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (look for at least 60% cocoa content)
1 3/4 sticks (7 oz.) unsalted butter, cubed
1 c. sugar
5 large eggs
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 375F and butter an 8" round cake pan (I used a 9" and it turned out just fine). Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter it as well.
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt it in 30 second bursts, stirring often, until smooth (you could also use the double boiler method if you’re more comfortable with that).
3. Once smooth, add the sugar and stir well to incorporate.
4. Set the batter aside to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Once cool, add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each egg ( I find this step easier if the eggs are at room temperature).
6. Add the flour and stir. The batter should be dark and silky.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is crackley, the edges are puffed and the center jiggles only slightly or not at all.
8. Remove the cake from the oven & cool in the pan for 15 minutes. To remove, place a dinner plate over the cake pan & flip it over. The cake will be upside down at this point. Remove the parchment paper, then put another plate on the "top" (which will ultimately be the bottom) of the cake & flip it once more so the “crackled” side is showing.
9. Serve with a dollop of loosely-whipped cream.

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