Well we are at it again!
After the various successes in making croissants, we crazy blogging baking ladies are at it again! We can't seem to figure on a name, but we all agree that those who bake together, bake!
And who is baking? There are ten of us now:
Ivonne: Cream Puffs in Venice
Lisa: La Mia Cucina
Peabody: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Brilynn: Jumbo Empanadas
Veronica: Veronica's Test Kitchen
Tanna: My Kitchen In Half Cups
Hester: Hester in Geneva
However, after the challenge of last months croissants, it was agreed upon that something much simpler (but not less tasty) be chosen for this months assignment. After a few joke suggestions (peanut butter sandwiches, microwave popcorn!) we finally agreed upon a flour-less chocolate cake, the recipe Chocolate Intensity from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book (which hopefully will be arriving at my door any time now! Oooh I can't wait!) (Note - when I said any time now, I didn't mean literally, however while writing this, my books were delivered!)
The recipe for this cake uses only a few quality ingredients - lots of bittersweet chocolate,butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and coffee, a traditional flavor partner with chocolate. One I am not fond of at all. Rather ironic that one of the standard flavors that enhances chocolate, one of my favorite flavors, is one that I don't like at all. (I guess that is another one of those odd food facts about me.)
Here's another little oddity - when searching recently for chocolate, I ended up inadvertently buying two bars of 64% chocolate with coffee. The recipe called for 62% chocolate, which I never found anywhere, so used this coffee chocolate, along with an additional ounce of a 70% bittersweet chocolate. Despite this additional flavor, and my dislike of coffee, I still added in the 1/2 cup of coffee. It was a weaker, instant coffee, but I still used it!
I'd never made a flour-less cake before (that I can remember.) I've read enough recipes to know that this recipe was a bit unique. It didn't involve whipping egg whites, or folding. Or tempering. And I can tell you, that lack of tempering the hot chocolate mixture into the whisked eggs made me nervous!
Some of the other ladies had already completed their cakes by this time, and no one had complained of pieces of cooked egg in their finished product, though, so I held faith in them (more so than the cookbook author) and whisked those eggs into the hot mixture (a combination of the chocolate, butter, sugar and coffee.) And you know what? It worked!
I don't own a 9 inch cake pan (yet) so used my springform pan, sealed tightly in foil before being placed in the waterbath. I still had a bit of leakage, but not much. My cake did not rise, as a cake involving whipped egg whites would, but instead seemed to be dense and fudge-like. It had small bubbles on the surface. Those bubbles were still there even after chilling.
To finish off this cake required a glaze. Not a sugar glaze, but a chocolate one of course! This is a chocolate intensity cake, so what else but more chocolate would do? So more chocolate was chopped and melted, this time with heavy cream and a touch of vanilla, before it was poured over the cold cake.
Smooth, smooth, smooth. Pour more chocolate. Smooth, smooth, smooth, pour more chocolate. Repeat until out of chocolate.
Now that's alot of chocolate!
Coffee not being a favorite in my house, I brought my cake out for "coffee night" with my girl friends, where coffee is enjoyed and savored. And chocolate is worshiped.
Tish describes this cake as similar to a creamy truffle, but fudgier. She's not wrong. This cake is both dense and light, which seems contradictory but isn't. The flavor is huge, the texture is dense, but the cake does not weigh you down or leave a feeling of "ugh" after from too much chocolate or sugar. One of my friends was shocked to learn she was eating a flour-less cake - she honestly could not fell from the texture and taste that there was no flour in the cake.
Despite the coffee flavor, which was very intense, I enjoyed this cake. I wish I'd brought home a small piece for myself to enjoy today (instead of sending it home with my chocolate-coffee loving friend as a belated birthday treat.) I would likely enjoy this alot more without such a strong coffee flavor, made with the coffee but not the coffee chocolate.
And after how well it was received last night, I can see that this cake will be requested again!
Now, I wonder what we are going to make next month? Baking with these ladies has been so much fun, and so inspiring, that I can't wait to read the rest of their entries and see what everyone thinks we should make next month.
from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book
(makes one 9-inch cake)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 62% cocoa), finely chopped
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brewed coffee
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round and butter the parchment. (If you're using a pan with a removable bottom like a springform, make sure to wrap the pan with 2 or 3 layers of foil.)
Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir butter, sugar and coffee until the butter is melted and mixture is boiling. Pour the hot mixture over your chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs vigorously until blended. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Slowly add about 3/4 cup hot chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. (Tempering the eggs with a little bit of the hot chocolate mixture will prevent "scrambled eggs" when combining the two mixtures.) Add the egg mixture to the hot chocolate mixture and whisk to combine well.
Strain the batter through a sieve (to catch any cooked egg bits) and then pour batter into prepared pan. Set cake pan in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is shiny and set but still a bit jiggly. Transfer cake pan to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cardboard round on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove pan and carefully remove the parchment paper. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before glazing with chocolate glaze.
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the vanilla. Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.
To glaze the cake:
Place the chilled cake, still on the cake round, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the hot glaze onto the center of the cake. Smooth the glaze over the top and sides, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet.
Scrape the extra glaze from the baking sheet and put it in a small ziploc bag. Seal the bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners. Gently squeeze the bag over the top of the cake to drizzle the glaze in a decorative pattern. Refrigerate the cake at least one hour before serving.