A Dark Chocolate Cardamom Cake for Valentine’s Day

If you (like me) are just now thinking of making a special dessert for Valentine’s Day, here’s a recipe for a delicious dark chocolate cake that I first baked more than a decade ago. It is not complicated to prepare, and calls for easily found ingredients at most supermarkets. Each time I’ve served it, I noticed that there are rarely any leftovers.

This flourless confection is assembled with dark bittersweet chocolate, plenty of butter, plus eggs and sugar. What distinguishes this cake from others, though, is a generous addition of fragrant ground cardamom. The latter adds a subtle but distinctive note that pairs beautifully with the chocolate. The cake needs about a half hour in the oven, but the center will still be slightly moist when a tester is inserted into it. As it cools the cake firms, but the center remains soft. Serve each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream plus a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

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Dark Chocolate Cardamom Cake with Warm Chocolate Ganache

12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons ground cardamom (See note.)
7 large eggs, separated

Warm Chocolate Ganache and Garnishes
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur

Confectioner’s sugar
1 pint best quality vanilla ice cream
Mint sprigs, optional

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter the paper.

2. For the cake, melt the chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. When smooth, remove from the heat and cool slightly.

3. Stir together 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the cardamom in a small bowl. Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl, and with an electric mixer on medium high speed beat them several seconds. Gradually add the sugar and cardamom mixture, then beat until the mixture has thickened and increased in volume, 2 to 3 minutes or more. Reduce speed to low, and add the melted chocolate mixture and beat just to combine.

4. With an electric mixer with clean beaters on high speed, beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until foamy, then gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Beat until soft peaks form, 2 minutes or longer. Stir or whisk 1 1/2 cups of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites in three equal additions.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until cake puffs and top is set, 30 to 35 minutes. A tester inserted into the center will still be slightly wet. Remove and cool to room temperature. Cake will deflate as it cools.

6. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the sides. Carefully invert cake onto a serving plate, and remove and discard the parchment paper. Cover cake with foil or a cake dome and leave at cool room temperature. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead.)

7. For ganache melt the chocolate and half and half in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, stirring, until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. (The sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, stirring.)

8. Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar, then slice and place each serving on a dessert plate along with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle both with warm chocolate ganache. Garnish each serving with a mint sprig, if desired. Serves 8.

Note: Use the freshest ground cardamom available. It should be fragrant when you open the bottle or package. Buying small amounts of this spice from stores that sell it in bulk (such as Whole Foods) is a practical way to ensure that it is fresh.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2019

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