Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Really, Really Rich Flourless Chocolate Cake

When I was working on The Cake Book, I decided to devote an entire chapter to flourless chocolate cakes, mostly because I love them so much. And also because there are so many different varieties within the category. Some are light and airy, others dense and fudgy, others with a nutty texture. Of all of them, this is probably my personal favorite (though to be sure I should probably run through them all again at least once--I'll have to get back to you on this). More than anything, though, this cake is rich, with a truffle-like texture and ultra chocolaty flavor that is heightened by  the addition of brewed coffee (use water if you're not a coffee fan). Yes, the cake does contain three sticks of butter--this is not a typo. But butter is good for you--it's an all-natural product free of chemicals, hydrogenated coconut oil, MSG, trans fats and corn syrup. Straight from the farm. Make sure to use a good quality chocolate here--I love Valrhona, of course, Guittard, Sharffen Berger, and, my new favorite, TCHO. And finally, it is imperative that you serve this cake with a generous dollop of sweetened whipped cream. 
Chocolate Intensity

Makes 8 to 10 servings
Storage: refrigerated, loosely covered, for up to 5 days

Truffle Cake:
8 ounces (227 g) 62% cacoa bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/12 oz/340 g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 cup (7 oz/200 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) brewed coffee
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, cut to fit, and butter the paper. Place the pan in a roasting pan.
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Place the butter, sugar, and coffee in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to boil. Immediately pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Gently whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs vigorously until the yolks and whites are completely blended. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Pour enough water into the roasting pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake in the water bath for 35 to 45 minutes, until the center is shiny, but set (it should jiggle slightly). Remove the roasting pan from the oven and transfer the cake pan to a wire rack. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes.
5. Run a thin-bladed paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a 9-inch cardboard cake round on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove the pan and carefully peel the parchment paper off the top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before glazing.
Glaze the cake:
6. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it comes to a gentle boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it stand for a minute. Gently whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla.
7. Place the chilled cake (still on the cake round) on a wire rack that is set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the glaze onto the center of the cake. Using a small, metal offset spatula, smooth the glaze over the top and sides of the cake, letting the excess glaze drip onto the baking sheet.
8. Scrape any of the extra glaze from the baking sheet and put it into a small, sealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag. Gently squeeze the bag over the top of the cake, drizzling the glaze in a zigzag pattern. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve a small slice of this cake with sweetened whipped cream. 

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