Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Let's face it, I'm a fan of pretty much anything chocolate. So when I heard we were making a chocolate cake this week for Tuesdays with Dorie, I was pretty excited. Until I read over the ingredients and saw... alcohol. And prunes. Prunes? Really?
Well, who am I to argue with the great Dorie Greenspan's tastebuds? If she says prunes will be good in a chocolate cake, then I'll take her word for it. The picture in the cookbook sure looked great, and I couldn't spot a single prune in the cake in that picture. So I put my faith in Ms. Greenspan and went for it.
She instructed us to cut the prunes into "bits" so I chopped them up, a little unsure how big "bits" are. I think I left them too big, but more on that later. I heated them on the stove with water, then threw in some scotch whiskey (substituted for the Armagnac that she suggests), stood back, and set it ablaze. The flames weren't anything like what I expected. They lasted about 2 seconds - not even long enough to get a picture.
My husband later saw the bottle of scotch whiskey sitting out on the counter and said, "You used this stuff? This is the cheapest, nastiest whiskey ever and it's been in the cupboard for about 10 years." Information I could have used about 20 minutes earlier. Well, all I could hope for was that it got better with age.
Next came the ground nuts. The recipe calls for pecans, but allows for a walnut substitution, which I took. I discovered that I had an abundance of walnuts in the cupboard, and just had to grind them myself. It took me a while to get them perfect. Right about the time I finished, it occurred to me that it would have been faster and a heck of a lot easier to throw them into the food processor. Why does my brain work so slow?
Then I whisked the nuts together with flour and salt and set it aside.
Seven whole, wonderful ounces of bittersweet chocolate are coarsely chopped. Ghirardelli - the absolute best (it was on sale... ssshhhh...).
The chocolate is melted with butter. Have I ever mentioned my love for melted chocolate? I could eat it with a spoon.
I wasn't a big fan of the next step. Egg yolks and sugar were to be whisked together for about 2 minutes in order to make them thick and pale. This mixture was already thick to begin with, I didn't need to whisk them for 2 minutes to make it thick. And oh my goodness, my arm hurt after whisking for 2 minutes. It would be a stretch to imagine Miss Dorie Greenspan doing this step. I wonder if she has a whisk-er to do the hard work for her. Hmmm... is that a job I can post on Craigslist?
Then the prunes, the nut mixture, and the melted chocolate are mixed together. And you fold in the egg whites, and pour it all into your springform pan.
Bake for about 28 minutes or until the batter is still wet, but not too wet. Don't you love it when the directions are vague? Fortunately, I think I got it just right.
After it cools, you spread on the rich chocolate frosting made up of bittersweet chocolate, butter and confectioners' sugar. Dorie said it would be a self spreader, and would run down the sides. But mine was rather thick and I had to spread it myself. It was really delicious.
The end result was an absolutely gorgeous chocolate cake. And it was to die for. I couldn't taste the alcohol at all, which was great for me. I could, however, taste the prunes. I think if I had chopped them finer they would have blended a little better. But there was just something about those big chunks of prunes that was a turnoff. I ate a few and picked a few out. I think next time I'd figure out a way to make the cake without the prunes.
And it was sooooo good with ice cream. I literally ate over half of this cake. I made it on Friday and it got finished on Monday. It was just my husband and I eating it... and I'm sure I had more of it than he did. I reeeally don't want to step on a scale anytime soon.
Many thanks to Lyb of And Then I Do The Dishes for making this week's selection. Very fitting selection Lyb, considering the outrageous number of dishes I dirtied while making this cake.