I had never prepared this type of gateau with caramelized sugar, but loved the results. Although the caramel flavor is subtle, the “burnt” sugar definitely adds another layer of flavoring. This cake, which can be prepared a day ahead, is delicious offered with a simple dusting of confectioner’s sugar, but for extra embellishment, top each slice with a dollop of softly whipped cream. Even recovering chocoholics might be tempted!
Valentine Dark Chocolate Cake
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus extra for buttering the baking pan
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, coarsely chopped (See note.)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1 cup whipping or heavy cream, whipped until just firm, optional
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round straight-sided cake pan that is 2 inches deep or an 8-inch round spring form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment cut to fit and butter the parchment.
2. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch dice and coarsely chop the chocolate. Set both aside.
3. Place the sugar and water in a heavy, medium saucepan set over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan well until all of the sugar is dissolved. Then bring mixture to a boil, and boil without stirring until mixture turns a rich amber color and is caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Remove the caramel mixture from the heat and gradually add the butter, stirring until it melts and mixture is smooth. Then gradually add the chocolate and stir until melted and mixture is smooth once again. (If necessary place the saucepan back on low heat and stir until smooth.) Cool the chocolate mixture 6 minutes.
5. Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks, one at a time, until well blended into the chocolate mixture. With an electric mixer on high speed beat the whites with a pinch of salt in a medium bowl just until soft peaks form. Fold the whites in three additions into the chocolate mixture. Then pour the chocolate batter into the prepared pan and level the top with a spatula.
6. Bake until the top of the cake is firm and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack to room temperature.
7. To unmold, run a small knife around the sides of the pan to loosen cake (and remove sides if using a spring form pan). Place a serving plate over the top of the pan (or the cake) and invert. Remove and discard parchment paper. Serve the cake at room temperature. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 45 minutes before serving.)
8. To serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. If you like, cut out a paper heart and center it on the top of the cake before dusting with sugar. If desired, serve each slice with some whipped cream. Serves 8.
Note: Dark chocolate that is 70% cacao also works well in this recipe.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013
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