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Monday, May 25, 2015

Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake
New Christmas grand-baby boy Rowan, with sweet big sister Lela.

Yah, yes I'm back! We had very busy, wild holidays. We were very busy, decided to move (locally, really, only three minutes from where we were, but so worth it!),
the unfortunate death of a dear friend of my husband Greg, and more holidays without my brother Dave who passed March 2014. All these things and more have tended to keep me really busy. I also decided to hand make as many Christmas gifts as possible. I suppose I could have/should have photographed the processes and put them on Pinterest, but I wanted to just enjoy doing them for family and friends. Not that you all aren't my friends, but you understand. Not everything in this world needs to be advertised to the masses. I can share WHAT I did, as they came out very nice and might give you some ideas of your own.

I purchased a three tiered square-glass treat stand for my daughter Chelsea, with the intention of decorating some design onto each tier. I looked at all kinds of paper, different medias, fabrics, designs to paint...and just needed to chew and digest them as possibilities. Since I couldn't decide, I tabled that one for her birthday, (which just passed, she received it and loved it!)

I really was feeling so energetic and creative. My daughters Candice and Chelsea are phenomenally creative artistically, musically, and have other wonderful abilities, they seem to know no bounds.

My nieces Rachel and Rebecca are very much like my daughters in those areas as well. All four of them can take an idea and run with it lickity-split and produce some awe inspiring work. It was these works of all four of them this past year for baby showers, Dave's Life Celebration Party, Holidays, my Mom's 80th surprise birthday party, right down to the invitations, package tags, place settings....it set a spark to my own creativity that's pretty much been dampened for a variety of reasons and for far too many years. It was the energy and persistence of these girls, the love of what they know how to do and the discoveries of new skills. It lit a fire under me! This Mom is on FIRE!!! (I just had to do that, I love the song "This Girl Is On Fire!") I used art supplies that have been sitting dormant for at least 6 years. I went through everything. I threw out stuff that was to old and would compromise the ending results, I gave things away, I donated things to charity shops, I bought new to replace old and just let the inspiration consume me.
I decoupaged a cake stand for my niece Rachel, made mirrored Christmas ornaments for the Haines and Rutherford's little families, canned preserves, cranberry sauce, fudge sauce, Meyer lemon marmalade, home made Limoncello,
homemade pickled ginger root, peach-blueberry preserves, peach salsa, and more equalling 152 glass canning jars and decorative bottles to pass out to family and friends. I flubbed two batches of my Kahlua fudge, botched a couple recipes of bread, made amazing bread rounds, sugar cookies for family, friends and neighbors for Halloween,
biscotti, cookies, candy bark, ....the list seemed endless and I felt like I had overdone it. But I didn't. After gifting almost all of it (of course we had to sample!) I found very little left over, maybe 2%! I'm still getting compliments for all of it. And I felt really good doing them all, and better yet when I could give them away. I've had so many great compliments about my Meyer Lemon Marmalade, the ginger which will curl your hair it's so spicy and hot, and the peach goodies...And always the chocolate! I have these people trained well.

I'm already working on Christmas 2015, by knitting with a loom-it's so easy and fun, totally and instantly gratifying. I can't say who it's for or what it is 'cuz some of the recipients read my blog! But I'll be sharing them on Pinterest after Christmas!
I've made some new friends that are also chocolate junkies, (what!?). It's always fun to find out what others enjoy. I've been reading a lot of Alice Medrich's cookbooks about everything. I've changed a few techniques, wanting to implement some of hers. The verdict? I love them. Everything from melting to tempering chocolate, cooking with one or two gluten free flours instead of making gf mixes, and the hows and whys of doing so. Specifically her books: Flavor Flours, Seriously Bitter Sweet, and just acquired today from Amazon - Pure Desserts. I gave each of my daughters one of Alice's chocolate cookbooks for Christmas as I've most definitely passed on the Chocoholic gene to them!

This cake is inspired by the "Flourless Chocolate Cake" by Cook's Illustrated, specifically their "Baking Illustrated." I love to watch their shows and have many of their books, also given them for gifts. They are very precise and informative, very specialized, but they make it so absolutely everyone can produce beautiful food that tastes heavenly.

As stated in their introduction in their cookbook, this cake will definitely NOT look like it's done. You will need to insert an instant read thermometer to measure 140°F. Be sure not to let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. The cake will continue to firm up as it cools. They also suggest using an 8" springform pan - baking time = 22-25 minutes @ 325°F. You can use a 9" springform pan and they suggest reducing the baking time to 18-20 minutes. But truly, you MUST use the thermometer as everyone's oven differs. I used a 9" springform, reduce the time, checked the thermometer and wound up cooking it for 35 minutes total to reach 140°F! So be safe and sure with a thermometer. You really don't want to waste all of your ingredients by flopping the outcome!

So in that light (or dark, chocolate of course!), let's make cake!
Rich-Chocolate-Flourless-Fudgy-Cake                      Serves 12-14

8 large eggs - COLD
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) real unsalted butter - (only!), room temperature but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 cup Creme de Cacao, strong coffee, espresso, coffee liqueur, or any other flavors - optional
Confectioner's sugar or cocoa for dusting the cake
Fresh berries for serving alongside - optional
Fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream for serving alongside  : )    yum!

  • Pre-heat oven to 325°F. 
  • Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position.
  • Line the bottom of your springform pan with parchment paper, and butter the sides.
  • Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 layers of foil. This helps to keep the water out of the bottom of your springform pan.
  • Set the wrapped pan into a baking/roasting pan that you will add boiling water to make a ban marie - water-bath in which the cake will cook.
  • Heat a kettle of water to boil for the cake ban marie.
  • Choose a saucepan to melt the butter and chocolate in, then choose a skillet that is larger than the bottom of the saucepan. You are going to ban marie the chocolate instead of melting in a double boiler - which as Alice Medrich points out can still scorch your chocolate because the heat of the steam between the bottom of the double boiler and the water is actually hotter than the simmering water! I believe this 100%, especially when the heat is on the absolute lowest and it's still spitting out from between the two vessels. That can be a bit painful! So what will really be done now is sandwiching water between the two vessels, which heats the chocolate more gently. It works wonderfully!                  
1. Pour enough water into the skillet and then place the saucepan filled with the chocolate, butter, and flavoring of your choice if you so desire into the water filled skillet. Heat the water to a boil then lower the water to a firm simmer, melting the chocolate, butter and flavoring in the saucepan, stirring occasionally till smooth 3-5 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on high for 5 minutes. Eggs should have thickened some and doubled approximately to about a quart forming a "foam." Slowly whisk in the sugar.
3. Chocolate mixture should be done, remove the saucepan from the water bath skillet. Fold a third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture using a large silicone/rubber spatula until only a few streaks show, repeat two more times until the entire mixture is totally blended and smooth = homogenous. 
4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with the spatula. Pour the boiling water into the baking/roasting pan halfway up the side of the springform pan.
5. Bake an 8" springform pan = 22-25 minutes @ 325°F. You can use a 9" springform pan and it's suggested reducing the baking time to 18-20 minutes. HOWEVER - you really MUST use the thermometer as everyone's oven differs, being sure that the temperature reads 140°F. 

The cake will rise slightly, the edges will just begin to set and the top will have a very thin glazed crust somewhat like a brownie. Remove from the oven and the ban marie and place onto a wire cooling rack, carefully remove and discard the foil. Cool the cake to room temperature and place covered into the fridge for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight to mellow the flavors. Covered, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. (HA! Who's cake is going to last that long!!!)
6. About 30 minutes before serving, remove the cake from the fridge, gently slip a knife around the sides of the cake and the pan, then release the spring and remove the side. Invert the cake onto a wax paper lined dish, then remove the piece of parchment paper. Now, re-invert the cake onto a serving platter. Serve with a light dusting of confectioner's sugar, cocoa, or both. Cut with a sharp, thin bladed knife, wiping the blade clean with hot water between each cut.
Whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream and berries are great accompaniments!