Two of the students (one former) in our department recently got married, and tonight we toasted to them. I asked the bride what she’d like, and she said she likes anything chocolate. When people tell me that, I think chocolate cake just won’t cut it – not chocolatey enough. So I decided to make a flourless chocolate cake. Before googling or foodgawking (foodgawkering? I can’t decide) for a recipe, I checked my bookmarks, because I keep a store of recipes I’ve seen and want to try. Sure enough, I had a chocolate tarte recipe saved in my bookmarks that looked delicious. The recipe is from Côté Maison and is in French, so I’ve translated it.
pâte sablée (already made – I didn’t use one)
156.3 B% 250 g crème fraîche liquide (I used heavy cream)
18.8 B% 30 g butter
78.1 B% 125 g chocolate
15.6 B% 25 g sugar (I added two tablespoons to this)
62.5 B% 2 eggs
37.5 B% 3 yolks
a little unsweetened cocoa powder (I used powdered sugar instead, but it melted into the cake by the time I served it)
32.5 B% 5 cl cognac
I added a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla.
I did it without a crust and doubled the recipe, which made a thin cake in a 13×9 in pan. It served 12 people with a little left over. Sadly, I don’t think the flavor of the cognac came through in the final product. It tasted great in the batter, but I guess the cognac couldn’t take the heat. If I make it again, I’d use a lighter cream, because I think too much fat can cover the flavor of the chocolate. Here’s how I made it – mostly following the instructions, but you know me, I always have to change something:
- Heat cream, butter, sugar, salt, and chocolate in a saucepan until everything is melted and dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Lightly beat eggs and yolks.
- When cream mixture is cool, mix eggs, cognac, and vanilla together. Pour into pan.
- Bake at 350F (180C) for 20 minutes.
- Cool, then sieve powdered sugar on top.
It came out moist, but cuttable (rather than needing to be spooned). I should have checked it earlier, but thought it would need longer than 20 minutes (at slightly less than 350F) since I made twice as much, but then, I made it in a larger pan. Twenty minutes was just right or possibly a minute or two too long. It didn’t weep, so the eggs hadn’t coagulated, but I suspect it would have been a little smoother a couple of minutes earlier.
When I took it out of the oven, it had huge bubbles that sank into valleys upon cooling. One of the sunken spots even caused a crack (the other, smaller crack is where I checked for doneness). I think it went like this: the beaten eggs had lots of bubbles in them, and during cooking, they coalesced into big bubbles, which grew due to the heat into monster bubbles, which pushed a little of the batter out from under them, so that when the high spots sank, they sank even lower than the areas around them. It did not make for a pretty cake. (But everyone ate it anyway, bless their hearts!) So take it from me: don’t overbeat your eggs – we’re not going for fluffy here – and let the batter sit for a while, maybe hit the pan on the counter a few times, to get rid of bubbles.
Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with a rich chocolate dessert, but I think this recipe could be improved upon.