Instant Chocolate Cake

With a new iSi charger in hand, I pulled another recipe out of my mind’s Deep Storage Facility, an instant cake invented by Albert Adrià at El Bulli. I first saw it in the 2008 Spain episode of No Reservations, but it is also featured in the Decoding Ferran Adrià DVD.

Of course, I needed more to go on than Adrià‘s description of “yogurt, almond flour, sugar  and egg whites,” at least if I didn’t plan on creating endless variations until I hit on the correct proportions. I figured that the recipe had been posted online, and a bit of diligent searching turned up not only Adrià‘s recipe, but this chocolate version.

I figured a half recipe would be a good first start, so I measured out 4 eggs, 8o grams of sugar, 1.5 grams of salt, 21 grams of flour, and 105 grams of semisweet chocolate (Valrhona Guanaja 70%).

I whisked the sugar and salt into the eggs, and melted the chocolate.

I combined the chocolate with the egg mixture, then whisked in the flour.

I strained the mixture, poured it into the charger, added two pods worth of N2O, and dispensed some into a plastic cup until it was one-third full.

I cooked the batter in the microwave for 40 seconds at 900 watts (power level 8 for my oven, YMMV), watching as it rose over the top like a soufflé… and promptly collapsed into the cup, like a soufflé.

The resulting cake was dense and gummy, but it tasted great.

I had enough batter for a few more attempts, so I tried to troubleshoot the process. I noticed that Adrià cut a few slits in the base of the cup, so that was the next variation, which had the same results and a puddle of cooked batter at the bottom of my oven. I tried a little less batter, same results. Finally, I tried a larger cup, thinking that if the batter didn’t expand over the rim that it might hold its shape better. It worked:

Why did this variation work? It was the last batch in the charger, so it didn’t fill the cup as much as the previous attempts. In addition, the batter had cooled down in the twenty minutes that elapsed between first and last versions. I think the cooler batter had set a bit, making it stiffer, and the decreased volume meant there was less total weight to cause a collapse. The cups also get pretty hot, almost to the point of melting, so cooler batter preserves the cup structure.

I was able to plate the final batch with some of the previous day’s aero chocolate experiment:

I like the contrasts in this dessert: warm, airy cake against cold, dense mousse – the opposite of what you might expect from looking at it. I’ll be making the cake again; I see a lot of potential combinations.

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2 Responses to Instant Chocolate Cake

  1. I’ve been meaning to try this one for a while; thanks for the reminder! It looks like there are a few variations on it floating around the web, including black sesame and pistachio. (Check out the Alinea Mosaic, in particular, if you haven’t already.)

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