Let me introduce you to this wonderful, super-easy quick-fix chocolate cake by Alice Medrich who many consider to be America's First Lady of chocolate. She first had an epiphany making and eating real French truffles in Paris - it was a revelation that changed her conception of how chocolate could and should taste like. Upon her return to America, she opened the famed Chocolat shop selling giant truffles as well as other chocolate confections (in California I believe). She was instrumental in awakening America's interest in *real* chocolate rather than the mass-produced, milky stuff produced by Hershey's and other brands.
The very first book I bought by Alice was Bittersweet. It answered many questions about using chocolate in dessert recipes with a depth and thoroughness that was unique. It made me understand why my brownies were so crumbly and almost impossible to hold without breaking: most recipes ask you to fold in the flour as little as possible, but as Alice points out, with the high-fat content of modern brownie recipes, you want to whisk the batter as vigorously as you can so that you develop gluten to hold everything together. I also loved how she varied the amounts of chocolate in a dessert recipe according to the percentage of the chocolate. It just all made perfect sense.
This is Alice's chocolate fudge cake from A Year in Chocolate. I have reduced the sugar amounts dramatically to highlight the chocolate flavour (rather than sugar) as well as modified the mixing method. Do not skip the divine frosting though - it's to die for.
Fastest fudge cakeAlice says that 'I get the best results stirring with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. For speed, melt the butter in a large microwave-safe mixing bowl to eliminate a dirty pot, and make the frosting while the cake bakes.' I've actually found it easier to use a wire whisk. The hot water releases some of the leavening in the form of baking soda and makes the cake darker.
150g (1 cup) flour
35g (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) natural (non-alkalised) cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
115g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
80g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) hot water or strong coffee
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease the bottom of an 8-inch square (which I prefer) or 9-inch round cake pan. Line it with parchment paper if you wish. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F.
Put the butter in a large bowl and heat in the microwave just until melted, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and salt to the melted butter. Add the eggs and stir until well blended.
Add all of the flour mixture at once. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir only until all the flour is moistened.
Pour the hot water over the batter in a few additions to incorporate the water gradually, stirring with your whisk.The batter should end up smooth and gorgeous. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake until the cake is firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan completely.
Fast Fudge frostingI cannot emphasise enough how tasty this frosting is. You can also use it warm for a glaze or sauce. Store leftover frosting in the refrigerator. Rewarm gently in a pan of barely simmering water or in a microwave before using.
75g (5 tbsp) unsalted butter
30g (2 tbsp) sugar, preferably brown or muscovado
50g (1/2 cup) cocoa, sifted
Pinch of salt
180ml (2/3 cup) heavy/double cream
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, cocoa, and salt and moisten them evenly with the melted butter. Gradually stir in the cream. It will start off as a thick paste and gradually smooth out to to a more liquidy consistency. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool until thickened to the consistency of frosting and frost the top of the cooled cake. Ideally, let the frosting set for a few hours to firm up before cutting... I couldn't!
|Sorry I dived in before taking a picture...|