Monday, August 23, 2010

The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake

We recently invited a friend, whom we hadn't in a long time, over to our apartment for dessert. I wanted it to be something easy, but also something that would wow her. Have you read the title of this cake? I figured this would be a good one to try.

This cake is like a chocolate truffle--soft and intensely chocolaty. It is derived from Orangette author's book, A Homemade Life, and, trust me, you'll remember this one.

Our friend ended up being unable to come by, but we froze the remainder (hey, we had to eat some of it ourselves, right?) and served at another dessert party a week later. It was a hit.

A quick note: This cake is flaky and soft, but freezes well. Molly Wizenberg says that its texture and flavor are actually improved by freezing. She suggests making it far enough in advance that you can freeze it for at least a day or so, and allow 24 hours for it to then return to room temperature before serving.

The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake
(from A Homemade Life)
Serves 12

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips
1 1/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1) Butter an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottomw of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and butter the paper.
2) Put the chocolate and butter in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring often, until just smooth. When mixture is smooth, add the sugar, stirring well to incorporate. Set the batter aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3) Add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition. Add the flour and stir to mix well. The batter should be dark and silky.
4) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly crackled, the edges are puffed, and the center of the cake looks set. At 20 minutes, the center of the cake is usually still quite jiggly; you'll know it's done when the center only jiggles slightly, it at all.
5) Remove the cake from the oven to the cooling rack, and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Carefully turn it out of the pan and then flip it onto a serving plate, so that the crackly side faces up. This cake is delicate, so the easiest way is as follows:
Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan, and place a small sheet pan or large, flat plate--not the serving plate--on top of the foil, facing down. Hold the cake pan and plate firmly together and quickly, carefully, flip them. The pan should now be on top of the plate, with the foil between them. Remove the pan, revealing the cake, which is now upside-down. Remove the parchment paper. Place the serving plate gently atop the cake. Wedging your index fingers between the plates to keep from squishing the cake, flip them so that the cake is now right side up. Remove the foil.
6) Cool completely; serve with whipped cream or berries. Enjoy!

NOTE: This cake can be kept at room temperature, sealed in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days, or it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. (Be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.) To freeze it, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then foil, and it will keep for up to a month. Before serving, defrost at room temperature for 24 hours, still fully wrapped.

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