Cheating on my Chocolate Cake

22 05 2008

I’ve been bad.  I cheated on my favorite chocolate cake recipe.

Here’s the story.  I found this recipe on Cooking the Hard Way, and my first thought was “I haven’t had a hunk of chocolate cake in a long time.”  Like since December.  This may not sound strange, but I used to eat chocolate cake almost every day.  (Hey, I worked in a bakery.  There were scraps.)  Anyway, I was struck by a powerful craving.  A closer examination of the ingredients revealed nothing exotic (i.e. buttermilk – the hallmark of a good devil’s food cake).  I had most of the ingredients already, just sitting in my cupboard or fridge.  So, for the first time in more than three years, I found myself making a different chocolate cake.

Combining ingredients in a bain-marie

The first step says to melt unsweetened chocolate, butter, sugar, and water together.  I was skeptical.  I know what chocolate and water can do to each other, and it’s not pretty.  Resisting the urge to rewrite the recipe, I followed the directions, figuring that if it was a total disaster I would have the smug satisfaction of knowing I was right.  Well, the chocolate/sugar/butter/water mixture did indeed turn out to be grainy and broken, but I guess if it’s just going into a batter it’s not that important.

I whisked in the combination of milk and cider vinegar (a buttermilk substitute if I ever heard one), followed by the egg and vanilla.  Last came the dry ingredients and my batter was ready.  It was really thin, but that didn’t worry me.  My old standby has a fairly liquid batter as well.

Soon-to-be chocolate cake

The recipe called for a bundt pan, which I don’t have, so I just poured the batter into the only baking vessel I own.  (If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you’ve probably seen many pictures of my beloved Emile Henry stoneware baking dish.  It was one of the very first purchases I made upon arriving in Paris, and I use it for everything from roasting chicken to breakfast strata.) 

All the English-to-metric converting makes me nervous, and as a result I check baking progress every 10 minutes.  After 30 minutes (which is what the recipe said), the cake had risen and it smelled terrific.

The other chocolate cake

The toothpick test told me it was done, so I took it out and let it cool.  This was a challenge, as I am a total warm-cake junkie.  But I didn’t want to spoil my dinner, so I gritted my teeth and waited.

In lieu of frosting, I simply served square slices of cake with mint-chocolate chip ice cream.  I noticed that the chips were made of actual chocolate, and not that godawful “chocolatey” stuff that is becoming so prevalent in American ice creams.  But back to the cake.  It was good, nice and moist with a decent amount of chocolate flavor.  It’s no boutique chocolate cake, but it’ll do.




4 responses

23 05 2008

Thanks for the mention, hope all is well. When you two get back to the U.S. you need to seek out some Patric 70% for use in a ganache for your chocolate cake. You’ll never go back to Manjari again.

25 05 2008

That’s a pretty strong endorsement! Poor me, stuck here with only Cluizel, Valrhona and Bonnat to keep me company.

27 05 2008
Betty C.

I often put in a bit of water when I melt my chocolate. I didn’t know it was a recipe for disaster! And it never has been for me…

28 05 2008

It’s all about the proportions. A little water (or butter, or cream, or liqueur, or coffee… ) is usually fine. This recipe called for twice as much water as chocolate (by weight), which is destined to screw up the delicate cocoa butter “fat crystal” structure and result in an oily, grainy mess. Which it did. However, since I wasn’t making ganache or mousse or anything that depends on the structural integrity of the chocolate, it wasn’t a big deal.

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