Birthday Baking: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was David’s birthday.

Its tough to decide on a birthday cake around here, especially for the grownups. You want to make all the children happy, but still have a cake you want to eat yourself. I was going to make the French Strawberry Cake, which is my next Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia assignment, but Dorothy informed me that she doesn’t like whipped cream. Foolish child. So, we decided on this, a flourless chocolate cake. I think everyone would have eaten the strawberry cake, and only 2/3 of the children will eat this. Reid is my resident chocoholic, and Dorothy likes chocolate too; but, Adam does not enjoy chocolate at all. So, he’ll get a bowl of strawberry sorbet. Can’t please everyone, I guess.

This cake is not complicated to bake. It does require a little fearless-ness, especially if you’re new to the world of separating eggs and whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. I use a hand mixer for this and two bowls–one for the whites, and one for the yolks. Separate the eggs using a third bowl so if you break one yolk, you haven’t lost all the whites–just that one. Whip the whites first, that way you don’t have to wash your beaters, just go right over to the yolks and get to work on them.
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This was my sous-chef’s first time beating egg whites. Dorothy did just fine. She was very serious.
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Don’t get excited when you take it out of the oven. The top is very dry and crackly, and perhaps some of it did crack and collapse. This is supposed to happen. Just put some damp paper towels on it and gently press down.
I don’t know where this recipe came from. Its in the ‘cookbook’ that my mother compiled about 15 years ago, but she didn’t give credit to anyone. No matter. Its a damn good cake.
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CHOCOLATE SIN
Flourless – Good for Passover. This extremely rich cake would be delicious with whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or even a glass of ice cold milk

Butter
Flour (I use unsweetened cocoa)

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup lightly salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
6 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
2 tsp. crème de cacao, Kailua or dark rum (I used rum)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipping cream well chilled (optional)
2 1/2 to 3 Tbs. powdered sugar (optional, but makes the cake look prettier)

Place oven rack in lower third of oven; heat oven to 375. Butter and flour (or cocoa) and sides of an 8 inch spring form pan; reserve.

Melt chocolate with 1/2 cup butter (in a double boiler, over, not in the water). Or, use a microwave in short bursts so you can stir the chocolate in between. If using a microwave, be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Beat egg whites in medium mixer bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup granulated sugar into whites; continue beating until stiff but not dry peaks form.

Beat egg yolks in large mixer bowl at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Beat until yolk mixture is pale yellow and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture, beat until complete smooth. Add crème de cacao and vanilla and beat until blended.

Fold whites gently but thoroughly into chocolate mixture. Pour batter evenly into reserved pan; smooth top.Beat egg yolks in large mixer bowl at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Beat until yolk mixture is pale yellow and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture, beat until complete smooth. Add crème de cacao and vanilla and beat until blended.Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350, bake another 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250, bake 30 minutes longer. (Total baking time is 1 hour.) Turn off oven, prop open oven door and allow cake to remain in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cake from oven and cover top with damp paper toweling; let stand 5 minutes.

Remove toweling and cool cake completely. Dome of cake will crack and collapse; this is normal–press top of cake down lightly to smooth top. Remove spring form and transfer cake to serving platter.

Whip cream in chilled mixer bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding 1 ½ Tbs. of the powdered sugar, until stiff peaks form. Dust top of cake with remaining powdered sugar just before serving. Serve cake at room temperature with whipped cream.

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