It was my birthday two weeks ago. I was unusually quiet about it. You see something happened when I turned 40; I became quiet, somewhat reserved about my age. I use to go all out, reminding everyone, wanting to do something epic; blah, blah, blah. Now, I sit back, enjoy my time with the ones I love. I prefer a quiet and intimate setting; nice dinner, good wine, family and/or friends and my love. Instead of the let’s rush out to a fancy, schmancy place and spend oodles of cash. Don’t get my wrong, I still feel strongly about birthdays, after all, it is “my day” and I can do anything I want, like eat gooey chocolate cake.
Chocolate is the one thing I cannot live without. Really! When people ask me, what is the one food, I honestly love, it always comes back to chocolate. It does have to be deep, dark and rich chocolate. Not fluffy semi or milk; BORING. I like the chocolate to melt on my tongue, slide down my throat and get into my belly; I want every last bite to linger, like a first kiss. Perfection really.
Last weekend I decided to experiment with a favorite recipe of mine, the flourless chocolate cake. This particular recipe is my go-to dessert when heading over to friend’s house for dinner. It is fool-proof, delicious, and gluten-free. I wanted to transform the recipe, take it to new limits, make it sexy. I had some chocolate tucked away, from our trip to France, a 68% Le Noir, which promised to be complex, bitter and refined. I tossed around the idea of adding different essence to the chocolate base, orange, lime, bergamot, even espresso. Then I spied out of the corner of my little eye, the package of sea salts, that Jackie gave me for Christmas. They have been sitting quietly on the shelve in my kitchen, just waiting for me to play with them. Jackie surprised me with two of Virginia Willis’s seasonings from My Southern Pantry, the French Quarter Spice Rub and Pecan Smoked Sea Salt. It was a hard decision on which one to pick for this recipe as I thought both would hold hands perfectly with the sinful chocolate; but, in the end, I picked the Pecan Smoked Sea Salt. I thought the slightly nutty, somewhat smokey and salty bite, would be perfect with the already complex chocolate.
In addition to playing with the flavors of this cake, I also wanted to play with the texture. Instead of the usual dense chocolate cake, I wanted it to be a little lighter, somewhat fluffy and warm and gooey. I wanted the complexity to change throughout the dessert course. Normally when I make this cake I use a paddle attachment with my mixer, this time I opted for the whisk. As well I let half of the chocolate chill in the fridge until it was almost crumbly. I whisked in a lot of air, after each addition of egg. Once the batter was light in color and slightly fluffy, I poured in the melted half of the chocolate, it was still slightly warm. I continued whisking until the batter doubled in size. At this point, I added the chocolate crumbles. After pouring the heavily whisked batter into a buttered tart pan, I generously sprinkled the top with the Pecan Smoked Sea Salt. Upon removing the cake from the oven, I let it cool for only 10 minutes, then removed the sides. The texture of the finished cake was slightly firm but still had a light, almost souffle feel to it to it. The top slightly cracked, which I think, gives the cake a rustic appearance. When I cut into the cake, it was a little gooey but not raw. The smokey, nutty salt married exceptionally well with the sultry chocolate. The flavors were perfect together and did not really need anything else; but, I served a lightly sweetened sour cream along side the cake.
Now, this my friends, is the ultimate birthday celebration.
Do you have a favorite flour-less cake recipe?
Recipe: Chocolate Flour-less Cake with Smokey Pecan Sea Salt
* It is really important that the ingredients are of good quality for this recipe; otherwise, it will be a flop
12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
8 oz. good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
sprinkle of pecan smoked sea salt (http://www.virginiawillis.com/smoked-salt.html)
1/2 cup sour cream, full fat, don’t be wimpy
brown sugar, to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Melt the chocolate. Put half of the melted chocolate into a small bowl in the fridge; cool, until slightly crumbly. Keep the other half in the pan you melted it in; this will keep it slightly warm. Using your whisk attachment for your mixer, creme the butter until light and fluffy; about 7 minutes. Add the sugar and whisk until light in color and fluffy; about 10 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until light. Mix in the warm melted chocolate and whisk until doubled in size; about 7 minutes. Whisk in the cooled chocolate, for about 3 minutes. The batter will be very fluffy and doubled in size. Pour into a lightly buttered pan, I like to use a tart pan. Sprinkle with pecan smoked sea salt. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan; very important, do not remove the sides before 10 minutes and don’t wait long after. Serve. Eat.
If you liked this post, check these out: