Monday, April 13, 2009

Chocolate Cake

The second of the Easter desserts is another of Molly's recipes from A Homemade Life. I had been plotting out three desserts for the holiday meal for maybe even weeks in advance. I was going to do two of yesterday's Orange Upside-down cake and tomorrow's strawberry tart. But Thursday night I came across Molly's Winning Hearts and Minds Cake at the end of her book and knew it was exactly what was needed. (If one can actually need dessert.)

I think I may have made a mistake. A cake that goes by the name "Winning Hearts and Minds" perhaps shouldn't be the accompaniment to a fancy, orange cake and an even fancier strawberry-mascarpone tart. It will be over-shadowed because, even though it is chocolate, it's just chocolate. There is no drizzled caramel syrup, no snicker's bars, no crushed oreos and no mocha flavoring. It's just a (nearly flourless) chocolate cake. One that, according to Molly, has magical powers of persuasion. We're all in need of a little help in winning hearts and minds, not least of all me. And if this cake helped Molly along in that direction, it can't hurt, even if all I'm doing is embodying the spirit of the chocolate cake.

Molly's Winning Hearts and Minds Cake: from Orangette 7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into smaller pieces 7 ounces (1 3/4 cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 5 eggs 1 tablespoon flour And I threw in some orange zest because I felt like it.

Molly suggests to either melt the chocolate in the microwave or on a double boiler. I haven't ever had success with melting chocolate in the microwave--it always burned. And double boiler's sound complicated and expensive--they're not. I use a medium skillet filled halfway up with water and then place a bowl on top of the skillet, as if the bowl were a lid put on upside down. I just so happen to have a bowl that fits perfectly inside my medium skillet. Be sure the water in the skillet doesn't touch the bottom of the glass bowl. And voila, double boiler.

Preheat oven to 375. Bring the water in the skillet to a boil. In the bowl melt the chocolate pieces and the butter completely, stirring continuously. Stir in the sugar and orange zest (if you want). Remove chocolate from heat (carefully). Whisk in eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour. Transfer to a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes, checking periodically the last five minutes.

My cake puffed up really big in the oven, which (needlessly) made me nervous. I am constantly afraid of under-cooking baked goods. You'll know the cake is done when the top is cracked and the middle jiggles only a little when you shake it. Allow cake to cool and it will probably lose the puffiness. Turn out onto a plate and then turn again onto a serving platter. This cake is freezable.

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