Monday, February 8, 2016

French Chocolate Cake

Recall from last week's post Penny's birthday dinner -- Parmesan and Yogurt Crusted Chicken, Carolina Collard Greens, scalloped potatoes and this nearly flourless French Chocolate Cake.

I made this cake exactly per the recipe in pastry chef David Lebovitz's memoir, The Sweet Life in Paris. I selected it because it offers something for everyone in the George family -- high quality dark chocolate for maman and a cake that doesn't require icing, which les enfants don't like anyhow. Plus, it is so rich that a teeny piece is perfect -- and perfect for papa who doesn't have a huge sweet tooth.

I highly recommend the cake and the book, which explained a lot about Parisians that I already knew but plenty that I didn't. Sweet Life is also full of recipes that appear easy to do -- and eat. In fact, the chocolate cake was my second dish from the book. When I made the Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds, I swear my house smelled just like Chez Omar, the popular Moroccan restaurant in Paris' Le Marais neighborhood.


French Chocolate Cake
From The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper.

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water or likewise in a double boiler, heat the chocolate and butter together until just melted and smooth. A note about the chocolate, for this and for homemade brownies I use Scharffen Berger Baking Bar - 70% Bittersweet Chocolate. Worth the 10 bucks.

Remove chocolate and butter from the heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks, and flour. (I love this part from the book: "You don't need to measure the half-quantity of sugar exactly. Just pretend you're a French woman cooking in her home kitchen and don't worry about it.)

Whip egg whites with the salt, using an electric hand mixer or whisk. Keep whipping until the whites form soft peaks. Gradually whip in the remaining sugar until the whites are smooth and hold their shape when the whisk or beaters are lifted.

Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Next fold in the remaining egg whites just until the mixture is smooth and no visible white streaks remain.

Pour batter into pan, scraping sides of the bowl so you bake up all that goodness. Smooth the top of the batter with rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Do not overbake.

Let cake cook in pan before cutting and serving.

The cake can be stored for up to three days. Some French women believe it is better after it sits for a day or two. The cake can also be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to one month.

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