Posted in custard

Flourless chocolate cognac cake/tarte

chocolate cognac tarte
Read on for my theory on why this cake looks like it got in a bar fight.

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:

  1. Heat cream, butter, sugar, salt, and chocolate in a saucepan until everything is melted and dissolved.  Remove from heat.
  2. Lightly beat eggs and yolks.
  3. When cream mixture is cool, mix eggs, cognac, and vanilla together.  Pour into pan.
  4. Bake at 350F (180C) for 20 minutes.
  5. 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.

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