We had a kind of impromptu dinner party last night. By “impromptu” I mean I only had 24 hours notice. Usually if we are going to entertain, I like to have lots of time to mull over menus and to plan my time. I also like to have the option to make things in advance so I am not madly cooking when the guests arrive. Does this make me sound like a control freak? I’m really not. Cooking is important to me and I know our friends expect something delicious when they come to eat with us.
And besides, this wasn’t really a dinner party per se – just two very good friends coming to dinner. But these guys are so awesome, they have even babysat our two boys so we could go see a movie and have offered to do it again. I knew we could do something more simple for dinner, but they are both dessert lovers and I really wanted to make a special dessert.
Because I didn’t have a lot of time, I thought of nothing else but this cake. If you are a chocolate lover, you probably have the ingredients on hand. Here is the gist of it. You make a flourless chocolate cake batter. You hold 2 cups of said batter back and put them in the refrigerator, then you put the rest into a springform pan and bake it until it’s just barely cooked through.
The whole thing goes back into the fridge for at least one hour and up to 2 days, and then, when you are ready for chocolate nirvana, you put the cake in the oven for 10 minutes. What comes out is multi-textured. The bottom part is baked through but the top, oh the top!, is gooey and pudding like.
I have one quibble with this recipe. Each time I make it, I remember that the edges of the cooked part of the cake get a little black in the final baking. (Note to self: Make a note in the actual recipe!) I think dialing the temperature down a bit from 425 to 400 (with perhaps a few extra minutes for the top to bake off a bit) would fix that. Last night I just carefully cut off the offending bits and no one was the wiser.
Double-Baked Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Food and Wine
Makes one 9-inch cake (DN: Serves about 8)
1/2 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
7 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the chopped chocolate with the butter over moderately low heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
3. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of the sugar until pale and light, about 3 minutes. In a large bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and beat until the whites are firm and glossy.
4. Fold the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture until barely combined. Fold in the egg whites just until no white streaks remain. Spoon 2 cups of the batter into a medium bowl and refrigerate. Scrape the remaining batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack.
5. Remove the side from the springform pan and spread the reserved cake batter over the top of the cake, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the cake for 10-15 minutes, or until a thin crust forms on top and the batter is soft and creamy beneath the crust. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve warm.
Make ahead: The cake can be prepared through step 4 and refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days.