It’s the day before my Tuesdays with Dorie contribution is due and my oven is empty. My inner Dorista doesn’t want to make chocolate cake. My outer Dorista’s pants are too tight. Sigh. Such is the life of a baker.
I remind myself that life is too short to be skinny so I suck it up, grab my favorite knife for chopping, and start hacking away at some good, dark chocolate. By the time the smell of the melting chocolate from the bowl of the double-boiler reaches my nose, my inner Dorista has shaken her anti-baking funk and we’re ready to roll.
Looking back, I don’t see how I couldn’t have forgotten about the egg whites whipping away in the mixer. Sure, my mixer isn’t whisper-quiet but between the melting chocolate and the smell of buttercream that already filled the first floor of our home, my senses were pre-occupied. And so, the egg whites were forgotten.
Over-beaten egg whites don’t “gently fold in” to anything. The foam is dry and the only way to get the chocolate and egg whites to play is to fold until your arm falls off. By the time they’re actually incorporated, the egg whites have pretty much deflated. There are far worse fates for eggs to meet than a dense chocolate cake – like a travertine floor. So it’s a good thing that we have nothing against a dense chocolate cake.
How I served the dense cake: I used buttered round pastry cutters to cut the cake into circles. I leveled the rounds and spread warmed blackberry preserves over the top of the “bottom layer.” I topped it with a second cake round and spooned ganache over the top of the cake. I used an offset spatula to coax a bit of the rich ganache down the sides of the cake.
Dense chocolate cake covered in a rich ganache.
- 5 large eggs
- 9 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 Tbsp coffee or water
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- For the ganache:
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.
- Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that's fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
- Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you'll think it's done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn't shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.
- To make the optional glaze:
- First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you'll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.
- Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven - the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don't worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake - it will just add to it's charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you're impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Yields: 1 9-inch cake
Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes