Photo from Nordljus.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and if you are looking to treat your lover to a romantic candlelit dinner, then consider ending the evening with this sexy dessert. It’s a chocolate caramel tart conceived by Claudia Fleming, renowned pastry chef and author of the cookbook “The Last Course”.
This exceptional tart starts off with the required Valentine’s Day ingredients of chocolate and caramel. But the dessert itself is much more than just putting two good things together, this tart is about thoughtfully prepared elements using the best ingredients to bring about an experience of texture, intense taste sensations and visual appeal. A not-so-sweet chocolate crust is the container to a rich, buttery soft caramel which is then topped with a dark chocolate ganache glaze. The tart is garnished with fleur de sel salt that makes a bite of this dessert sing in your mouth. Just imagine this thick, deeply golden flow of caramel flowing from the dark chocolate ganache glaze as your fork sinks into the tart to take your first bite. This tart is unforgettable.
Thinking about the chocolate caramel tart brings back memories of an evening Scott and I shared last year. For his birthday, I treated Scott to an overnight getaway at the Battery Park Ritz Carlton. Our room had a telescope to view the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks along the Hudson River, this appealed to Scott’s voyeuristic tendencies. That night we indulged in room service and a bottle of the most excellent Roederer Estate’s L’Ermitage cuvée, which we now call ‘naughty champaign’. The pleasurable taste of that sparkling wine is like nothing we had ever enjoyed. Something about tasting something that good certainly makes you feel a little naughty. At the end of the meal, I surprised Scott with the chocolate caramel tart topped with a single lit candle and a sprinkling of salt. It was a delightful highlight to a memorable evening in honor of Scott.
The chocolate caramel tart is definitely a special occasion dessert. Give yourself plenty of time to make it as you will need to make it in phases (pastry first, then caramel, then chocolate glaze). Don’t skimp on the ingredients – make sure you use a good quality dark chocolate (Valrhona, Callebaut, Scharffen Berger are all wonderful chocolates). The end result will be well worth the effort and your lover might just thank you in more ways than one ;)
Looking for other Valentine’s Day treat ideas? Try this Chocolate-Dipped Florentine Shortbread recipe by Pierre Hermé.
Chocolate Caramel Tarts
Chocolate Tart Dough
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp crème fraiche
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 oz extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch of fine sea salt, such as fleur de sel
1. To prepare the tart dough, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough to an 18 x 12 – inch rectangle, 3/16 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, cut out 24 rounds of dough and press them into mini muffin tins or 2-inch tart pans, trimming away any excess dough; prick the dough all over with a fork. Chill the tart shells for 20 minutes.
3. Line the tart shells with foil and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until the pastry looks dry and set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shells can be made 8 hours ahead.)
4. To prepare the filling, place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and corn syrup and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until you have a dark amber caramel, about 10 minutes. Carefully whisk in the butter, cream, and crème fraiche (the mixture will hiss and bubble up, so stand back), whisking until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated.) Divide the caramel among the tart shells while still warm (or reheat the caramel in the microwave or over low heat until it is pourable) and let sit until the caramel is set, at least 45 minutes.
5. To make the ganache glaze, in a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour some of the glaze over each of the tarts while still warm. Let the glaze set at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, just before serving.
For a large tart, line a 10-inch tart pan with the pastry dough, then prick, weight, and bake as directed, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time. When the tart shell is cool, spoon in the warm caramel filling. Allow the caramel to set before pouring the warm ganache onto the tart.
Plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
This month’s Food and Wine Magazine features Grace Parisi’s vegetarian recipe for Winter Vegetable Chili. This vegetarian chili recipe with healthy parsnips, hearty hominy and smoky and spicy chipotle and chile powder is perfect for a cold winter day. It’s an easy-to-make recipe and the results are a hearty but light chili that is comforting and healthy. Serve it in a bowl over some steamed brown rice and curl up in your couch to enjoy this excellent vegetarian chili.
Winter Vegetable Chili
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 14-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes
1 canned chipotle in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup canned hominy, drained
1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained
Brown rice, chopped red onions, cilantro, sour cream and tortilla chips or bread toasts, for serving
1. In a medium, heavy enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, parsnips and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chile powder and cumin and season with salt. Cook for 1 minute.
2. In a blender, puree the tomatoes and their juices with the chipotle, adobo sauce and water until very smooth. Add the mixture to the casserole along with the hominy and beans and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer the chili over moderate heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt. Serve with rice, red onions, cilantro, sour cream and chips.
Makes 4 servings.
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Ever since Jacques Torres opened up a little shop at the Chelsea Market I seem to be finding many excuses to go to the Chelsea Market. The other day it was cold so I stopped at the market to warm up. I just happened to enter by the side entrance on 15th Street that gave me direct access to Jacques Torres and I thought “what better way to warm up than a hot chocolate?” So I ordered one, and since I was already there, I said “I might as well take one chocolate chip cookie to go!”
The chocolate chip cookies at Jacques Torres are decadent and chewy with layers of bittersweet chocolate that are held together by a sweet but sparse dough. They beat the almost perfect City Bakery / Birdbath chocolate chip cookies, which have been at the top of my chocolate chip cookie list for many years.
I love a homemade chocolate chip cookie. The recipe in the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip package has been loved by many, including me, and has been my preferred recipe for many years. These are delicious right out of the oven, but this recipe usually falls short after the cookies have cooled down. And after you’ve tried an exceptional chocolate chip cookie like those served at Jacques Torres, you realize that you’ve been missing out on a truly great chocolate chip cookie recipe.
So I did some research to find a recipe for a chocolate chip cookie that remains rich, buttery and chewy at room temperature and has lots of really great chocolate. I tested a number of recipes like this one that gets it’s inspiration in from the City Bakery’s chocolate chip cookie. I studied Alton Brown’s show on chocolate chip cookies (part 1 and part 2) and tested his chewy variation. These were good, but I was still not satisfied. So I resorted to one of my favorite sources of great dessert recipes on the web, Dorie Greenspan’s blog, and found an entry referencing David Leite’s New York Times article with his chocolate chip cookie recipe.
The secrets to this recipe are:
- letting the dough stand for 24 to 36 hours
- sprinkling the cookies with coarse salt
- using bittersweet chocolate disks instead of chips
Of all the chocolate chip cookie recipes I tried, this one is a winner. And guess what? It was adapted from Jacques Torres’ chocolate chip cookie recipe!
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Jacques Torres
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yields 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
Rustic woodfired spoon by Jim Shack. Plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
I want to start this decade by sharing with you a very simple but deliciously comforting recipe from the heart of Puerto Rico: Coconut Rice Pudding (Arroz con Coco). This humble dessert of rice, coconut milk and spices is traditionally made in Puerto Rican households throughout the Christmas season. Big batches of it are made, poured into plates, sprinkled with cinnamon and then shared with neighbors and loved ones.
For such a simple dessert with few ingredients, it is surprising how many variations you will find in Puerto Rico. Every family has their own way of making it. Some families like it sweeter, some like to garnish it with cinnamon while others with cracker crumbs, some like to add fresh grated coconut and some use whole spices while others use ground spices. In my grandparent’s home, as Mima gratefully accepted her neighbors’ and friends’ arroz con coco, the tasting would begin. Pito, always the food critic, would comment on the neighbor’s interpretation of the dessert: “too much cinnamon” or “too much sugar” or “this one is too bland, it needs more ginger” or “que rico” when he liked one in particular. Pito developed his own version of arroz con coco. He prefers it with lots of fresh ginger and adds molasses. The recipe I share with you today is my version of Pito’s arroz con coco, I love the use of fresh ginger in his recipe, but have omitted the molasses.
A bite of this creamy, spicy desert is like taking a bite of Puerto Rico itself. Its simple, comforting, and surprisingly festive and delicious. I encourage you to try this easy recipe, make it your own and share with your family and friends.
Arroz con Coco (Puerto Rican Coconut Rice Pudding)
1 cup short grain rice
13 1/2 ounces coconut milk
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/8″ rounds
6 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1. In a heavy 4 to 6 quart pan, combine the rice, coconut milk, water, salt, sliced ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce it to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. After around 20 minutes of simmering, when the mixture is still loose and creamy, begin to remove the sliced ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Continue simmering until the rice is done (about 30 minutes) and the mixture resembles a thin custard.
2. Add the brown sugar, raisins and finely grated fresh ginger and stir to incorporate. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour into two slightly wet dinner plates. Garnish with the reserved cinnamon sticks and allow it to set for two hours. Slice and serve at room temperature.
Makes 8 servings.
Plate and bowl by Jim Shack. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
This simple Puerto Rican dipping sauce is traditionally served with fritters like tostones fried green plantains or sorullitos de maiz corn fritters.
Why do I call it “The Secret Dipping Sauce”? Well, many years ago I was serving tostones and, to Scott’s disappointment, I didn’t serve it with the sauce. Not knowing the name of the sauce, he asked for “the secret sauce” and the name stuck.
The dipping sauce is so simple that I’m not sure there is an actual name for it. In Puerto Rico we might just call it salsita (sauce). It’s a basic sauce of mayonnaise and ketchup, you can vary the proportions to taste. I always like it with a few shakes of Tabasco sauce and garnished with a sprinkling of paprika, but you can play with the basic ingredients and make your own variation.
Secret Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
Tabasco sauce or 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (optional)
1. Make the sauce by stirring the mayonnaise and ketchup until combined. Add optional Tabasco or minced garlic to taste. Serve cold.
This beautiful little plate was made by Roger Baumann and the white sauce dish was made by Jim Shack. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Tostones and a good plate of white rice and pink beans made by my grandma is what I call home. This side dish of twice fried plantains is as ordinary in a Puerto Rican household as french fries are here in the U.S., but I have to say that in my food memory, tostones are a delicacy, especially the way my grandma makes them.
On our last visit to Puerto Rico I asked my grandma, Mima, to teach Angelica and I to make tostones her way. She’s shown me how to make them a dozen times and I’ve watched her and helped her make them them since I was a little girl, but I still can’t manage to get them quite right. Mima’s tostones are soft on the inside and crusty on the outside with a salty crispy edge that makes them just perfect. Her secret is dipping them in salty water after they have been smashed flat.
Fried green plantains can be served as a side to almost any Latin meal. They are a wonderful side to soak up the savory juices of a flavorful asopao de pollo (Puerto Rican chicken stew). I especially love them served alongside a juicy bistek encebollado (steaks cooked in onions) or pernil (roasted pork). Tostones also make an interesting appetizer served with guacamole or stuffed with savory stewed seafood or ceviche.
A note about plantains: Plantains are a larger, starchier version of the banana and are usually sold by the piece. Grocery stores and most Latin markets will carry green plantains and ripe plantains. For tostones, pick plantains that are green or green with a hint of yellow. I prefer a plantain that is green with a hint of yellow as they will have just a hint of sweetness that is such a nice compliment to the salty exterior. Avoid using yellow plantains for this dish as a ripe plantain contains too much sugar and will burn in the first frying.
Tostones Fried Green Plantains
3 green plantains
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
canola oil for deep frying
1. Cut each plantain at either end and score them lengthwise three or four times by running your knife from one end of the plantain to the other to make a shallow line, deep enough to cut through the skin. Use your fingers to pry the hard skin from the plantain and peel. In a small bowl mix some warm water with enough salt to make the water salty, set aside.
2. Pour enough canola oil into a deep cast iron pot to make a 1″ deep pool. Heat the oil over medium heat until just a few drops of water sprinkled over the oil start crackling.
3. Slice the peeled green plantains on a slight diagonal into six even pieces. Arrange the plantain pieces in the hot oil (the oil should cover the pieces) and fry in batches until the plantain pieces are cooked. The pieces are cooked when they yield softly to a fork inserted into the plantain. Transfer the cooked pieces to a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
4. Now proceed to smash the cooked plantain pieces into 1/4 inch thick wheels. Some people like to use a tostonera for this task, but I find that the flat end of a glass or bowl works just as well to flatten the tostón against your cutting board. As soon as you smash them, place them in salty water for about a half a minute to allow them to soak some of the liquid. Remove them from the salty water and pat them dry with a paper towel and immediately place them in the hot oil to fry. Please be careful as plantains with excess water might splatter.
5. Fry the tostones in batches and remove from the hot oil once crispy and golden yellow. Remove and drain once again in a plate with paper towel. Serve the tostones right away while still piping hot.
Makes 18 tostones.
The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of leftover turkey dishes. From pot pies and turkey sandwiches to turkey soup – by the end of this weekend we will have had our fill of roasted turkey for the year.
This recipe is my offering to this post-Thanksgiving tradition of leftover turkey preparation: turkey empanadillas (empanadillas de pavo). It’s a savory Latin dish that gives turkey leftovers a Puerto Rican twist. Turkey empanadillas are half moon pastry pockets that are stuffed with a savory filling of shredded turkey, olives, raisins and cilantro. Unlike their fried cousins traditionally sold in cuchifrito stands around the island, these pastry pockets are baked.
Making the empanadilla pastry from scratch yields the best results, but if you are as tired as I am after days of preparation and cooking for the Thanksgiving feast, then use frozen empanadilla pastry disks from your local grocer.
If you like this empanadilla recipe, you may also like baked beef empanadillas.
Turkey Empanadillas (Empanadillas de Pavo)
2 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup turkey broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 packet Sazón annatto seasoning
1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
12 empanadilla pastry disks, thawed (pre-made or homemade)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, then add the onion and cook until they begin getting glassy. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant. Do not allow them to brown.
3. Add the cumin and allspice and stir until well incorporated. Add the tomato sauce, broth, annatto seasoning and raisins and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded turkey and continue cooking until all the liquids have been incorporated into the mixture. Turn the heat off and add the olives, cilantro and season to taste. Set aside to cool.
4. Prepare your work surface to assemble the empanadillas by having the following handy: empanadilla pastry disks, baking sheet, fork, bowl of water, and the cooled filling.
5. Place a disk on your work surface and add 2 to 3 tablespoons filling. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle. Crimp the edge with a fork, turn over and crimp the edges with a fork again. Set the empanadilla in the cookie sheet and repeat.
6. Brush the empanadillas with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Makes 12 empanadillas.
Anagama woodfired plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds.
This pumpkin cheesecake has been a family favorite for years. The crust has a gingery gooey bite, the pumpkin cheesecake filling is perfectly balanced and not too sweet and then it’s topped with a slightly sweet and tangy sour cream topping. It’s the kind of treat that makes you glad you saved a little bit of room for dessert.
If you want to make this cheesecake, I would recommend making it a day in advance as it tastes better over time and you will not want it competing with your turkey and other fixings for oven space the day of the event.
The recipe was originally published by Food & Wine Magazine many years ago in their Thanksgiving dessert feature. Thankfully, I had clipped this recipe as it seems that it is not available at foodandwine.com.
And on a personal note: I am so grateful to our friends who have supported and encouraged me to keep writing during this challenging year. Thank you friends, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
2 cups gingersnap crumb (from about 1/2 pound cookies)
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2 or 10 inch springform pan and coat lightly with flour. In a medium bowl, toss the gingersnap crumbs with the melted butter until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the prepared pan. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the crust begins to color. Let the crust cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar and the brown sugar, then beat in the eggs in 3 additions until the mixture is thoroughly combined, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined, scraping the bowl a few times.
4. Wrap foil loosely around the bottom and up the side of the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan and set it in a large baking dish or roasting pan. Place in the middle of the oven and pour 1 inch of hot water into the baking dish. Bake the cheesecake for about 70 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the center of the cheesecake is still slightly shaky.
5. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and pour on the sour cream topping. Gently tap the pan to spread the topping, and continue baking the cheesecake for 10 more minutes.
6. Transfer the cheesecake to a rack and let cool for 1 hour. Remove the foil and the side of the pan and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Makes 16 servings.
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
The simple things made the biggest impression. After my parents divorced, my mom and I lived with my grandparents, Pito and Mima. Their kitchen was at the center of many a childhood experience. As I searched for memories of my mom on this Mother’s Day morning, I was reminded of a particularly sweet and fleeting moment.
I walked into Mima’s kitchen and Ma had been cooking. I don’t remember what she was cooking, but she walked toward me with a little white CorningWare bowl, a spoon and a smile. Her eyes were beaming as she handed me a spoon and offered me a taste. Delicious! A burst of pure happiness that starts at the tongue and then spreads to every part of you. This delightful treat was simply made with leftover raw egg yolks sweetened with sugar, but to me that treat was a pure infusion of my mother’s love.
These simple moments are the ones I treasure most. These memories are the ones that remind me most what mother’s love feels like: spending a minute or two together, sharing something sweet and discovering something simple and new. For these little moments I am so grateful.
Happy Mother’s Day, Ma.
If you find yourself making meringue or have a few leftover egg yolks, try this simple treat.
Sweet Egg Yolks
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sugar
1. In a small bowl beat the egg yolk and sugar until the mixture becomes light yellow and creamy.
The Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking chocolate wrapping that this recipe was printed on is completely crusted with dried batter, chocolate prints and a generous dusting of flour. I’ve kept it in a folder labeled “cakes” that is stuffed full of great recipes, but nine out of ten times when I want to make a chocolate cake, this is the recipe I reach for. It is the best chocolate cake recipe, period. It’s rich yet super moist and light with just the right amount of chocolate and not too sweet. I have made it many times with very stable and delicious results, even at high altitude in Montana.
This chocolate cake is heavenly on its own and needs no frosting. I enjoy it most with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar. If you are making a birthday cake, consider frosting it with a good buttercream frosting. Or, what about filling it with raspberry preserves and frosting it with chocolate ganache for Valentine’s day?
The secret to this cake is whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks and folding them into the batter just before baking. The egg whites create air pockets that are going to make this cake light and delicious. This video from epicurious.com has some good tips on beating the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites in two installments is key. Chef John Mitzewich demonstrates proper folding techniques in this video.
The Best Chocolate Cake
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup water
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or strong cold coffee
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Line three 8″ or 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper, set aside. Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the water and stir until melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
2. Sift flour with soda. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk or coffee to the chocolate mixture. Mix until smooth.
3. Beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form. Fold one third of the egg whites into chocolate batter until well incorporated. Fold in the rest of the egg whites until well incorporated.
4. Spread into the prepared round cake pans. Bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack for ten minutes. Remove cake to cool completely.
Makes 3 cakes or one triple layered cake