Oh yes, I did just use those French skills I spent four years cultivating – yes I did. Lest you get the wrong idea, I do actually cook other things besides desserts (although the things that I forgot to take pictures of would suggest otherwise…) – the holidays just happen to be a time when I bake more desserts than I might otherwise (as you will eventually see). I made this cake for a party with some of our family friends, and they gobbled it up. While I personally found it to be sort of tricky (I’ve never floured a pan before, hee), it was delicious, and was an excellent learning experience. This recipe was taken from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
3 1/2 oz (squares) of semisweet baking chocolate
2 tbsp coffee (which enhances the flavor of chocolate)
3 1/2 tbsp softened butter
3 eggs 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt 2/3 cup flour
Using the wrapper from the butter, butter the cake pan, then roll flour inside cake pan until just coated with flour. Stir the chocolate and coffee in a small saucepan over low heat (Child recommends doing this over simmering water – I am not this fancy!): be extremely careful that the chocolate does not burn. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter by spoonfuls to make a creamy mass. Carefully separate the eggs from the egg yolk: my preferred method is to drop the egg in my hand over the bowl (to catch the white) and drop the egg yolk into the bowl of a mixer. Beat the eggs in the mixing bowl, gradually adding the sugar, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt together until soft peaks form; sprinkle on 1 tbsp of sugar and beat slightly further. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fold the chocolate and butter into the batter, then fold in one fourth of the egg whites. Be careful with the egg whites – do not allow them to lose their fluffiness, as this causes the cake to be much denser (unless, of course, this is what you want…). When partially blended, add one-fourth of the flour and continue folding,alternating rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.Before adding egg whites or flour;Adding the egg whites! Immediately turn into cake pan and run the batter up to the rim all around. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about thirty minutes. Cake will puff about 1/4 inch above rim of pan and top will crack. It is done when a needle or straw inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for five minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the tin, and reverse cake on rack. Allow to cool for about two hours; it must be thoroughly cooled before icing.
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 ounces semisweet chocolate 6 ounces softened butter
Melt the chocolate; place all the ingredients in the bowl of the mixer (yes, the one you just washed…sorry about that). Beat at a moderate speed until combined in a smooth cream. Julia Child recommends that you chill the frosting, but my frosting was cohesive enough that I went ahead and frosted the cake before chilling.
(Sorry about the lack of pictures of the frosted cake…I forgot!) And, in the spirit of Julia, Bon Appetit!