Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Whipped Cream

I’m ready for a new year – 2012 had more than its share of bad stuff in it and it’s time to move on. Lots of folks start off the new year with a diet, but diets don’t seem to take with me. I find I’m

 better off eating normal food and just cutting down on my portions. Eating rice cakes with cottage cheese on top just makes me sad. So, in the spirit of eating real (read: indulgent) food, here’s 

an ideal recipe: a really rich flourless chocolate cake, a small sliver of which is guaranteed to satisfy anyone with a hankering for something chocolaty. I serve it here with a Caramel Whipped

 Cream, which is basically a caramel sauce combined with softly whipped cream and then whipped to firm peaks. The cake is an adaptation of one that appeared in The Cake Book, my Chocolate Valentine Cake, which is baked in a heart-shaped pan. And that’s appropriate, because you’re going to love it. Happy New Year!!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Whipped Cream

Makes 12 (small) servings

Flourless Chocolate Cake:
10 ounces (283 g) bittersweet chocolate (I used Guittard 61%), chopped
1/3 cup water
5 large eggs
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (154 g) heavy cream

Chocolate Glaze:
3 ounces (85 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (77 g) heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Chocolate Drizzle:
2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

Caramel Whipped Cream:
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
A few drops of lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups (348 g) heavy cream, divided

Make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Place a 9-inch cake pan on a piece of parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil. Cut out the round from the parchment paper. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment round, with the pencil lines against the pan. Grease the paper and set the pan aside.
2. Put the chocolate and water in a medium-size stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from over the pot and set the chocolate aside to cool until tepid.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt by hand. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until the eggs are warm. Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume, about 3 minutes.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand-held mixer or by hand), beat the heavy cream until firm peaks just begin to form.
5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and place the pan into a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough very hot water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake for 45 to 52 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan from the water bath and place it on a wire rack; let the cake cool in the pan for 25 minutes.
7. Run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Carefully invert the cake onto wire rack. Cool completely.
8. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours (if your wire rack doesn’t fit in the refrigerator, very carefully —the cake is quite delicate at this point -- slide the cake onto a cardboard cake round).

Make the glaze and glaze the cake:
9. Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and process just until finely ground.
10. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate to the pan. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the glaze to a small bowl. Cover the surface of the glaze with a piece of plastic wrap and let it cool for about 10 minutes before using.
11. Place the cake (either on a cake round or not) on a wire rack over a waxed paper or parchment paper lined baking sheet (to catch the drips). Pour the glaze on top of the cake spread it evenly over the top and sides, covering it completely. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before drizzling it with the milk chocolate.
Finish the cake:
12. Put the chocolate in a medium-size stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted.
13. Pour the melted chocolate into a small parchment paper cone or small sealable plastic bag (seal the bag and snip a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners). Remove the cake from the refrigerator and drizzle the chocolate in a diagonal zigzag pattern over the top. Refrigerate the cake for at least 20 minutes to set the chocolate.

Make the Caramel Whipped Cream:
14. Fill a cup with water and place a pastry brush in it (this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization). In a clean, heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and lemon juice. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan to wash away sugar crystals, until the mixture starts to color around the edges. Gently swirl the pan to ensure that the sugar caramelizes evenly. Continue to cook until the sugar turns deep amber. Remove from the heat and slowly add ½ cup (116 g) of the cream, stirring until smooth (the caramel will bubble up).
15. Half fill a large bowl with ice water and place the saucepan in the water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes (alternatively, you can refrigerate the caramel for 2 hours).
16. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup (232 g) cream to soft peaks. Gently fold in the cold caramel, then whip just until medium peaks form.

To serve:
17. Leave the cake at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Serve slivers of the cake with the Caramel Whipped Cream.
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