Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sexy, Silky Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce (Part 1: Cake)

Rarely will you hear me describe food as "sexy". It's one of those words that I feel food writers use when they can't think of a better description (I know I'm horribly guilty of it on this blog.) Words like "rich", "explosive", and "breathtaking".

But I have to say it. This cake is sexy.

It's dark and deep. It's sweet and rich. It's fine by itself or with accompaniments. It's aesthetically pleasing and you're always left wanting more. You'll want to introduce it to your friends and family right away. And then after they've met it and they go home, you'll take it to your bedroom for some private one-on-one time.

It's not even really a cake. It's as much like cake as cheesecake is to cake. It's more akin to a pudding, brownies, or even fudge. One bite of this and it will be a while before you can go back to everyday chocolate cake.

And it's only four ingredients. Can't beat that.

This cake uses bittersweet chocolate, which is richer than semisweet. You could also use semisweet--but why would you?

Am I the only one who feels like they're in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while unwrapping a big bar of baking chocolate? 

The chocolate is melted with butter--again, a heavenly, or, dare I say, sexy?--combination. You can melt them in a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave. Our kitchen was, um, a tad messy, so I went the microwave route.

If you use the microwave, be sure to heat your butter and chocolate in short bursts (15-30 seconds at a time, and then stir.) If you let the microwave work on the chocolate for too long, you'll end up with a grainy, burned mess. So 15 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, stir, and so on until melted. My butter was fresh from the freezer so it took about a minute and a half for everything to come together.

Silky smooth.
I was going for extra decadence, so I used vanilla sugar.

Vanilla sugar is incredibly easy to make, and a great way to get more flavor for a vanilla bean (which aren't always cheap to buy.) After scraping the caviar from the pod for whatever recipe you may be using it for, the leftover pod can be added to plain sugar. In a short period of time, the sugar will be infused with the vanilla flavor and little specks of vanilla throughout.

As you saw with my Vanilla Bean Frosting, I like to use vanilla paste rather than a whole vanilla bean to get those little black flecks of flavor. So instead of recycling my vanilla bean, I tend to just use a whole fresh bean and add the caviar straight to the sugar. It works either way.

I love my coffee with some half and half and a nice spoonful of vanilla sugar. So good.

Crack five room temperature eggs into a bowl and whisk them together with the sugar.

Yes, that is not a whisk in the picture. We were in a hurry and I was scrambling to throw this together. I thought I could get away with not whisking. This meant my eggs were not thoroughly broken up. Which resulted in small ribbons of cooked egg throughout my cakes.

Don't be like me. Do as I say, not as I do. Use a whisk.

 Pour your (whisked!) egg mixture into the chocolate, stir everything together, and admire your beautiful batter.

Next, you'll want to get your cooking vessel ready. I intended on making this cake in a full-sized springform pan. Then I discovered that time (and the dishwasher) has not been kind. My pan was ruined and I had to throw it out. But luckily I had backup--mini pans!

Yes, they are two different sizes. I didn't buy them all at the same time. I bought two and then realized that a whole cheesecake recipe makes way more cheesecake than two little springform pans can hold. So I bought two more. That turned out to be the perfect number for a full-sized cake recipe.

Melt the butter leftover from the chocolate (there should be a couple tablespoons left) and use it to grease your pans. My pans nonstick and basically brand-new, so there's little risk they would stick...but better safe than sorry.

No use going to all that work and then having your cake break in half when you release the springform sides.
Dust your now-buttered pans with cocoa. I used natural high-fat cocoa from Penzey's. The package says it's the richest grade of cocoa, and from the way it smells I wouldn't be surprised.
All greased and cocoa-ed.
You can't tell me you wouldn't eat that batter straight up. Just looking at this picture makes me want to dip a wooden spoon into it and take a lick.
Your sexy cake isn't ready to bake yet. It needs to cook gently in a water bath. Otherwise the outsides of the cake will be burned and the middle will be raw.

I wrapped my pans in tinfoil because I wasn't sure if they were waterproof (my big one wasn't and I'd rather be safe than sorry.)

The water should be hot and it should go about halfway up the sides of the pans. If you're wary about holding a pan of hot water, a good tip is to place your pan(s) in the larger pan and set it on the oven's rack. Then, once everything is stable and doesn't require more lifting, the water can get poured in.

This is what the cakes look like halfway through their cooking time.

When the centers are no longer jiggly and you can touch the center without getting any batter on you (and without burning your fingers!), your sexy cake is ready to come out of the bath.

Take them out of their waterbath (carefully!) and remove the tinfoil if you used it.

Once the cake has cooled, you can remove the springform sides and take in all its glory. (Another hint--run a butter knife around the edges of the cake, just to make sure nothing is sticking. Don't scrape, though, or you'll scratch up the nonstick coating.)

You can stop here and admire its overall fudgey cakiness. It would be just fine as is--although, I have to say, a little rich. To cut through the richness, you could dress your cake up in raspberry sauce. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow, when I post the recipe. Think you can hold out?

Recipe: Sexy, Silky Bittersweet Chocolate Cake
10 oz. bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, broken into pieces
16 tbsp. (2 sticks minus 2 tbsp.) butter
1 c. granulated sugar
5 eggs, room temperature

2 tbsp. butter, melted
cocoa powder, for dusting

Melt butter and chocolate together, either in a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave. Let cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk sugar and eggs until eggs are completely incorporated into the sugar.

Mix sugar-and-egg mixture into chocolate.

Brush springform pan with melted butter and then dust with cocoa powder. Pour in cake batter.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes (or, if using mini pans, around 40-45 minutes.) When center is no longer jiggly, cake is done.

Remove from waterbath. Let cool completely and then remove springform sides.

Serve immediately plain or with Raspberry Sauce (recipe to follow.)

1 comment:

  1. I shouldn't have looked cause now I'm drooling on my keyboard.