Some food items are simply hard to photograph. Soup. Drinks. Flourless chocolate cake.
The taste of this cake is exceptional but photographing it is hard. The side is one solid slab of darkness. No grain or texture. Just a mass of dark something. This could probably double as part of a set on a science fiction film.
Except, this is no fiction. It’s a real cake, a real recipe. Both molten and flourless chocolate cake recipes abound. Sometimes, you can be a bit confused about what you are eating: is this kinda molten or flourless kinda? Here, there is no question. No molten anything. Deep, dark and dense.
Overpoweringly dense. I actually recommend that you not eat this by itself. The flavor is so overpowering, that a complement is needed. Unsweetened whipped cream — yes, whipped perhaps with a little vanilla but no sugar — is the perfect foil, and that follows in the recipe below.
Or vanilla ice cream. Better, French vanilla.
Or, a glass of port or brandy.
Just something to offset the relentless dense chocolate intensity. Hey, I’m not complaining here. I love this dessert, but everyone has their limits and this certainly pushed mine.
A heavy meal, say steaks off the grill, can often demand an equally intense dessert so that there is no “meal letdown.” You scale up your wine complexity during your meal. Dessert often follows the same pattern. If “light and delicate” won’t do, then it is time for the heavy artillery. This cake is just what you meal demands. There will be no complaints but quite possibly a few “Oh my Gods.”
The official name for this recipe is Chocolate Cracked Earth. Do not be concerned. It’s a massive creature and the thermal stress in your oven is going to create cracks. See, I told you this belonged in a science fiction film.
Chocolate Cracked Earth (aka Flourless Chocolate Cake)
Yield: serves 10
- · 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- · 1 stick unsalted butter*
- · 9 large eggs, separated
- · ¾ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- · 2 cups heavy cream, cold
- · Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan.
Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heat proof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1-inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs – this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate; then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan.
While the cake is cooking, make the whipped cream. Whip the cream until it becomes light and fluffy.
Serve at room temperature dusted with confectioners’ and the whipped cream.
Source: Tyler Florence on TheFoodNetwork.com
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55MM Macro lens, F/5.6, 1/10th second, ISO 3200
“I’m making this cake,” Suzen announced last Sunday morning. She had a book in her hands, cleverly hidden, and I was not shown the recipe.
Three hours later I was presented with the dish in the top picture: a dense coffee cake with streusel topping and that wedge of something slicing down into the cake.
“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s supposed to be that way. That’s a gooey topping running down into the cake.”
“If it’s a topping, why isn’t it on top?” I asked.
“Because it would interfere with the streusel,” she answered.
“I’m confused,” I uttered.
She handed me a fork. She mouthed the words, “Shut up and eat,” but did not say them out loud.
Two bites and I forgot about the definitions of top, bottom and in between.
She made this cake because it uses sour dough starter. Anything with sour dough is on her agenda. Suzen has had the same sour dough starter since 1994 when she tested the recipes for The Joy of Cooking. For 20 years, that starter has been fed, watered, nourished and monitored through every event possible: power failures, hurricanes, and 9/11. She’s given samples that have traveled around the country.
And now, it the basis for this wonderful cake from Maximum Flavor. If you are a baker and have starter on hand, then you are good to go. If you ever needed just a little extra push to make your own starter, then here’s an outstanding reason.
The streusel topping is made with leftover cake crumbs. In my house, there is no such thing as leftover cake. But Suzen did have a frozen cake layer saved for our next dinner party. The party was forgotten, the layer defrosted and we had plenty of cake crumbs. I’m sure you’ll find a way to improvise, too. And the streusel topping can be made ahead and stored for 2 weeks, giving you plenty of time to put it to good use here.
This is another wonderful recipe from Maximum Flavor, a book you would truly enjoy.
Sour Dough Coffee Cake
Yield: 1 9-inch tube cake, enough for ~8 people
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup / 150 grams all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup grams sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup milk, at room temperature
- 1 cup / 200 grams sourdough starter
Cake Crumb Streusel:
- 1 ½ cups dry cake crumbs
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Make the Streusel:
In a food processor, combine the cake crumbs, flour, sugar and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms small clumps. Transfer the mixture to a lidded container and store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Make the Gooey Topping:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and mix until well blended. Add the syrup and mix on low speed until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the water and vanilla and mix until l well blended. Add the flour and mix on low speed until it comes together as a homogeneous mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a lidded container or zip-top bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Make the Coffee Cake:
Preheat the oven to 3SO°F (i75°C). Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) tube cake pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt until the mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix until it is fully incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the milk and the sourdough starter. Turn the mixer on low speed, then turn it up to medium and mix until a smooth, silky batter is formed, 15 to 20 seconds.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, using a rubber spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Tap the pan on the table a few times to level it out and remove any air bubbles. Use a teaspoon to scoop dollops of the gooey topping all over the surface of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumb streusel over the top.
Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top feels firm when touched, or the internal temperature of the center of the cake registers 208°-210° F (97°—98°C), about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then remove the sides and let the cake rest on a wire rack until cool, at least 1 hour.
Source: Maximum Flavor by Aki Kamozawa and Alexander H. Talbot
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO-3200