Going all out for chocolate!
In my last post I promised I would share the recipes of blog worthy dishes. Boy, are you in for a treat today…
A month ago, friends invited us for a BBQ at their place and I volunteered to bring the dessert. I must confess to being naturally drawn to savoury dishes, perhaps because one can be approximate with ingredients and measurements and still end up with good results. Not so for desserts, in particular the types that involve baking. Cake making to me is akin to a science experiment, a million miles away from my “throw a bit of this in, sprinkle some of that on, cook until it’s done” style. For years I steered away from baking, too hard. Then I had children, and it seemed selfish to me to deprive them of the joy of eating homemade cakes and pastries. So I set out to learn how to bake. I studied the different ratios between eggs-flour-butter, the effects of oven temperature, types of flour, folding and whipping techniques, submitting family and friends to tastings with mixed results…After 15 years of trial and errors, I can’t say that baking is one of my strong culinary points, I still have massive failures however thanks to endless practise, I’ve also enjoyed spectacular success. One of them is Moelleux au chocolat (flourless chocolate cake) which features prominently on my dessert repertoire, as the most popular cake with kids and grown ups alike.
Back to last month. It was World Chocolate Day, so I knew I had to go all out for a chocolate dessert. Since I had all day to bake, without the time pressure of cooking a whole dinner, I decided to take up my usual Moelleux recipe a notch. So I pulled out my Laduree Sucre cookbook looking for inspiration. I bought it while we were in New York last year, and find it so pretty in its pale green velvet cover, I’ve liked to read it more than cook out of it. Founded in 1862, Laduree started as a bakery in the very heart of Paris, later transformed into a restaurant tea salon, with pretty boutiques opening all over the world over the years ( Sydney’s very own only opened 10 months ago!). It’s famous for its macarons, but you should see what other douceurs (sweets) they make! 10 years ago I would have only dreamed of eating them, let along cooking them. Nowadays I am a bit more confident, so I put my pastry chef apron and went for it.
I couldn’t decide between the Gateau Moelleux au Chocolat and the Tarte Tout Chocolat, so decided to combine both! To be truthful, I started with the Moelleux, which looked good on its own, but my version came out of the oven more or less a soufflé, with the top sinking and leaving a crater-like hole in the middle. That’s how I came up with the idea of the ganache to fill the void, and why not top it up with shavings of more chocolate and cocoa powder. Add a few Ferrero chocolate and coconut balls for decoration, if you have ,and voila!
Though not very complicated to execute, this cake takes time and care to do properly. Allow 30 minutes for cooking and a couple of hours for each prep and rest. Lastly, it needs to be kept in a cool, dry place if you don’t want it to melt on you ( obvious I know, but I thought I’d remind you ). And yes, it is a very rich dessert, involving copious amounts of butter, eggs, chocolate, cream and sugar. But it didn’t stop the guests from fighting over it, and our host to jealously guard the last remaining slice (she assured me it tasted better the next day!)
Chocolate food coma is guaranteed, you have been warned…
All Chocolate cake. Adapted from Laduree Sucre
Moelleux au Chocolat :
10 ½ tbsp/ 150g butter + 1 ½ tbsp butter for cake pan
¼ cup / 35g cake flour + 2 ½ tbsp cake flour for cake pan
5 oz / 150g chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg + 4 egg yolks + 7 egg whites
¾ cup / 150g granulated sugar
- Butter a 9 inch / 22.5cm diameter cake pan and refrigerate for 5mn to allow the butter to set. Remove from the fridge and dust the interior with flour. Turn upside down and lightly tap out any excess flour. Keep in the fridge. Chop the chocolate . Place in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add the butter and melt together over very low heat, stirring with a spatula. Remove from heat.
- Sift together the chocolate powder and flour. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F/ 180 deg C. In a large mixing bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, whisk together the egg, egg yolks and half the sugar (75g), until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside. Whisk the egg whites to a foam in another large clean dry bowl. Once they are white and frothy, incorporate the remaining half of the sugar (75g) while continuing to whisk for another minute.
- Gently fold a third of the egg and sugar mixture into the melted chocolate and butter. Pour the entire mixture back over the remaining 2/3 of the eggs and sugar, mixing gently. Fold a third of the whipped egg whites, along with the sifted flour and chocolate powder, into the above mixture. Pour this new mixture then back over the remaining 2/3 of whipped egg whites. Combine all together until smooth, careful not to overmix.
- Pour batter into the cake pan. Place in oven and lower the temperature to 340 deg C / 170 deg C. bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30mn before removing from the pan.
Chocolate Ganache & Decoration :
10 ½ oz / 300g chocolate (65-75% cacao solids)
1 ¼ cups / 300ml whipping cream
7 tbsp / 100g butter
1 bar chocolate (the best you can find, all I had was a Hershey’s Dark Chocolate, it worked fine!)
- Bring the butter to room temperature. Chop the chocolate and place in a large bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour half of the boiling cream over the chocolate in one pour and whisk in a circular motion to emulsify the mixture. Add the remaining boiled cream and whisk in the same manner.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the ganache. Using a spatula, stir until smooth.
- Pour the ganache onto the cooled moelleux ( the top will have sunk like a crater once the cake cooled). Fill to the very top. Allow to rest for 30 mn to set.
- Decorate the cake with chocolate shavings. Scrape the side of the chocolate bar with the back of a knife or a mandoline to make fine shavings. Shave directly over the cake to avoid having to handle the chocolate. Dust lightly with cocoa powder.