'The true cook is the perfect blend, the only perfect blend, of artist and philosopher. He knows his worth: he holds in his palm the happiness of mankind, the welfare of generations yet unborn.'

Friday, 28 September 2012

Food blogging and flourless chocolate torte

I'm a bit apprehensive writing this first post. Even though I love food and give it a lot of thought every day, it's something else when you have to write about it, let alone starting a blog! However, the idea of starting a blog to document (as it were) what I cook and bake has been germinating in my mind for some time. Since there's no better time to embark on it than now, I'm sharing a flourless chocolate torte recipe as the first post of my blog.

For those who know me, I'm a shameless chocoholic. I love chocolate in all its myriad forms - chocolate bar, truffles, ice cream, mousse, cake, hot chocolate - so long as it is made with a good high-percentage chocolate, rather than the milky stuff known to most people as 'chocolate'. I'm kind of a loner among my friends in this respect since most of them find real chocolate too bitter - and in some cases even too acidic. I've therefore secretly made a list in my head dividing my friends into for and against-chocolate camps so that I know who to share my chocolate creations with! lol

Compared to fancy desserts like a frosted chocolate layer cake or chocolate cookies, a flourless chocolate torte showcases the qualities that make chocolate a 'food of the Gods': the voluptuously melting mouth-feel, the earthy aromas, and the indefinably enticing flavours. The plurals here are important I think, since we are blessed with so many fine chooclates from so many chocolatiers worldwide, and each chocolate bar has its own distinct flavours and aromas that there's really no such thing as a 'common chocolate taste'. Mass-produced chocolates of course do have a flat, familiar flavour that most people associate with chocolate, but there's just so much more to the humble cocoa bean!

In something as 'basic' as a chocolate torte, there's not much to mask the flavours of a high-quality chocolate that you have chosen. Most recipes call for chocolate (a hefty amount, of course), eggs, butter and sugar. That's it. For my version, I have also included some espresso to complement the flavour (chocolate and coffee have synergistic powers!) as well as some whipped cream to keep the cake moist. I learnt this secret to a moist flourless chocolate torte from Shirley Corriher's Bakewise: apparently the milk solids in cream partially interfere with the setting of the batter and therefore the torte would end up moister. I've also kept sugar to a minimum so that all you taste is the unadulterated taste of pure chocolate. There's no butter in this recipe so it's relatively low-fat. Strictly for chocolate lovers!

Chocolate Nemesis (aka. flourless chocolate torte)

(adapted from Sara Perry's Deep Dark Chocolate)

340g high-quality dark chocolate, preferably 70%
100ml strong coffee
150ml double/whipping cream
4 eggs plus 2 yolks, at room temperature
30g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and line the bottom of an 8-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.

2. In a large bowl, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or over a pan with simmering water.

3. In another bowl, whisk the cream until it holds a soft peak.

4. In a third clean bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites to a soft peak with the sugar.

5. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate in a few additions to lighten it up. Mix in the coffee gradually. Mix with a whisk till you have a homogeneous mixture.

6. Add the yolks one by one into the chocolate mixture with a whisk before folding in the whipped egg whites gradually with a spatula. Make sure that the mixture is almost uniform in colour before adding more egg whites to the chocolate mixture.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan in a bigger roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough hot tap water to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Place in centre of oven and bake until the top of the cake is set, about 60-80 mins. Don't panic if you see cracks on top, that's how it should be.

8. Remove the pan from the oven and then from the water bath. Most recipes ask you to cool the cake completely and serve it chilled, but I love to eat this very intensely chocolate torte when it's still warm and the top still has a faint crispy edge to it. Serve in thin wedges - whipped cream, vanilla or tea-flavoured ice cream are great accompaniments.

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