Sunday, September 13, 2015

Donald Wressell's Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake

Guittard is one of my favorite chocolates, and probably the one I use the most for baking and dessert making. I’ve used it for a long time, and over the years have gotten to know the Guittard family and the wonderful folks who work for them. One of these fine people is the great pastry chef Donald Wressell, who was running the 

pastry kitchen at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills when we first met. Donald is one of the calmest and nicest people in the business – there is nothing he won’t do for a friend or colleague – and he is also one of the most talented, particularly when working with chocolate. Donald is Guittard’s resident Executive Pastry Chef 

and has contributed a whole chapter of recipes in the newly released Guittard Chocolate Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2015; $25). There are several of his recipes I am eager to try, particularly his chocolate layer cake (Grandma’s Chocolate Cake), but I started with the simple Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake. It’s a moist, buttermilk pound cake that has lots of grated extra-bitter chocolate folded into its batter right before baking, a trick that makes it ultra-chocolatey and extra moist. Make sure to seek out Guittard chocolate and cocoa for this cake, it will make all the difference in the world.

Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake
From the Guittard Chocolate Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2015; $25)

½ cup (110 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (150 g) Demerara sugar
¾ cup (90 g) cake flour
1 cup (110 g) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned*
¼ cup (20 g) Guittard Cocoa Rouge (Dutch-processed cocoa powder)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Saigon cinnamon)

1 ¼ cups (150 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 g) Guittard Cocoa Rouge (Dutch-processed cocoa powder)
1 ½ teaspoons salt*
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee
7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (135 ml) full-fat buttermilk
2 ounces (55 g) Guittard Nocturne Extra Dark Chocolate Bar (91% cacao)*

To make the crumble:
1. Using a food processor, pulse the butter, Demerara sugar, cake flour, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until all the ingredients come together to form a paste. Transfer the crumble to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To make the cake:
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with parchment paper along the bottom and up the long sides so that extra parchment paper extends about 2 inches beyond the sides of the pan. (I used three 6 ½-by-3 ½-inch decorative paper loaf pans instead.)
3. In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and coffee. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. At medium speed beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the water and vanilla and mix until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the buttermilk in two additions and mixing until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly. Crumble the crumble in pieces over the tops of the cakes, dividing it evenly. Bake the cakes for 45 to 55 minutes* (baking time will depend on the size of the pans), until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans set on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Unmold the cakes and cool on the wire rack completely. Store tightly wrapped in plastic at room temperature for up to 5 days.

*Recipe Notes:
I used toasted pecans instead of hazelnuts, and they were great.
I cut down on the salt in the cake and used 1 ¼ teaspoons instead of 1 ½.
I think you could use a 70% cacao chocolate here; just cut back on the sugar in the cake to 1 1/3 cups to compensate.
The baking time in the original recipe is 30 to 35 minutes, but I found it took quite a bit longer. It’s possible the recipe was tested in a convection oven, which would make a big difference.