Chocolate Idiot Cake

February 16, 2009

Valentine’s Day dessert was a flourless chocolate cake. Not just any flourless chocolate cake, but one that was included in The Essence of Chocolate, the cookbook written by the founders of Scharffenberger Chocolate. The cake had been developed by David Liebovitz during his career as a consulting pastry chef, so the recipe was intended to be as foolproof as possible while delivering a lot of chocolate taste. The published title of the recipe is Chocolate Orbit Cake, but his original name for it, a nod to the hapless pastry chefs who would make it, was Chocolate Idiot Cake. And I was just the idiot to make it.

There are only four ingredients in the cake: five large eggs, seven ounces of butter, a cup of sugar, and ten ounces of bittersweet chocolate (preferably 62% cocoa, preferably Scharfffenberger, which comes in 10 ounce slabs – who would have guessed?).

I chopped the chocolate using the secret method: cut down on the edge of the bar with a serrated bread knife, it produces very fine shavings. I added the chocolate to a double boiler insert with the butter cut into quarter inch cubes.

Butter and chocolate

I set the insert over a pot of simmering water and let everything melt. While I waited, I whisked the sugar into the eggs.

Sugar and eggs

I whisked the melted chocolate and butter together until they were smooth, then added it to the eggs and sugar.

Idiot cake batter

I buttered the inside of a nine inch springform pan, lined the bottom with parchment paper, then wrapped the bottom in two layers of aluminum foil. The batter went into the pan, the pan was set into a roasting pan, which was then filled with boiling water (from the pot used to melt the chocolate) until it came halfway up the side of the springform. I covered the top with another sheet of foil.

The pans were set into a 350 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes. I started checking for doneness, adding an additional five minutes at a time until I could touch the center of the cake without having any chocolate stick to my fingers.

Finished cake

Once cooled to room temperature, I wrapped the pan in plastic and refrigerated it until the next evening. (Yes, I started this recipe the day before.)

It’s common to serve a rich chocolate cake with raspberry sauce or fresh raspberries, or both. I wanted to try something different. I juiced two blood oranges and added a few tablespoons of blood orange syrup (from Stonewall Kitchen).

Blood orange juice and syrup

I reduced the mixture over low heat until it formed a thick glaze.

Orange glaze

Once cooled, I poured the glaze on a serving plate, topeed it with a slice of the cake, and added a spoonful of fresh whipped cream.

Final plate

This is a very rich cake; I could barely finish my slice. The orange sauce had enough acidity to cut through the dense chocolate, the whipped cream added a ligher contrast.

Try this cake yourself, it’s idiot-proof. You’ll impress your guests and will have leftovers for days.

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