Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Black Beast (in a good way, think chocolate)

There’s sometimes where you’re craving something sweet, and there’s sometimes (more often than not) when you’re craving something chocolate, and no other sweet or sugary thing will do. Well, here ya go. Bête Noire. This is pure chocolate, you can, and should, eat it straight up, it doesn’t need to be cut with anything like cream or sauces or fruit. It’s basically a flourless chocolate cake, but it has one ingredient I’m not used to seeing, which is water. Butter, yes. Sugar, yes. Eggs, yes. Chocolate, please, obviously. But water? I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just something I was surprised to see. As far as I can tell, major difference it made was the fact that it wasn’t as heavy as eating flourless chocolate cake, perhaps the kind you might need to take with a bit of crème fraiche or something because it’s so dense. But Bête Noire was extremely rich, shot of pure chocolate but still able to be consumed completely on its own (although I always take my desserts with a glass of milk). I should do a side by side comparison, but I’d be willing to say same richness, just a bit lighter than your standard flourless cakes.

I actually got this recipe from the back of a card. You know that stationery with pretty drawings of desserts on the front and then the recipe on the back. One amendment: the recipe says bake for ‘exactly’ 30 minutes. I did this. Exactly. And I was so excited, and in one of my needing-chocolate moods, and it was not done. And I am the queen of underdoing desserts, purposely, because I like them soft and moist, but this was runny. I cut myself a piece and removed it in spoonfuls as the batter ran out from either side of the slices. Definitely needed more time. Not that this is a bad way to eat it, spooning warm cake batter into your mouth, but to serve to other people, I thought they might want it a little more done. So when it says ‘exactly’ 30 minutes, I think that’s more of a suggestion than an obligation. I popped it back in for 10 more minutes or so and it came out perfectly moist, with a crispy top as the recipe promises.

Bête Noire
From a lovely card which has now been mailed

8 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (total of 341 g chocolate…I just used all 70%)
1 1/3 c sugar (270 g)
½ c water (120 g)
2 sticks (8 oz) butter (227 g)
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F (170 C) with rack in center position. Lightly grease a 9” layer cake pan and then line the bottom with a 9” circle of parchment (I used a springform pan and lined it with foil so the water didn't leak. Then I didn't have to grease, or do the inverting-business at the end). Lightly grease the parchment. Set the cake pan in a jelly roll pan or roasting pan.
By hand combine one cup sugar and the water in a medium-sized saucepan and stirring occasionally, cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a vigorous boil. Turn off the heat and immediately add the chocolate to the boiling syrup and stir until it is completely dissolved.
Stir in the butter, one chunk at a time, stirring until each chunk is incorporated before adding the next. Beat the eggs together with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar until they are foamy and slightly thickened and then whisk them into the chocolate, beating well to incorporate all the ingredients. Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and level the batter with a rubber scraper.
To bake place the cake pan and jelly roll in the oven and pour hot water to the depth of about one inch into the larger pan. Bake the cake for exactly 30 minutes. The top will have a thin dry crust on top, but the inside will be very moist. Carefully remove the cake pan from the oven (leave the water bath until it cools). Cover the top of the cake with a piece of plastic wrap and invert the cake onto a flat plate or cookie sheet. Peel off the parchment. Cover with a light, flat plate and immediately invert again. Serve hot, warm, or at room temp (I would suggest hot/warm).

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