Throughout my various purges of recipes, Chocolatier Magazine (now defunct) has been a survivor. I cannot part with any of them. Most are over 30 years old and while some pages are splattered and torn from frequent use - others tantalize with recipes I'd still like to try one day.
I have never known who Mrs. London is, but did a bit of research for this post. I don't have Berger's book to verify, but am betting this is from the Mrs. London's Bakery in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. This 1999 article in the NYT refers to the bakery's 25 year history.
As a flourless chocolate cake it is gluten-free - though if memory serves me well, GF was not being discussed much thirty-two years ago. I wasn't able to find any info on the history of flourless cakes. (Drop me a note if you know more.) Links to molten chocolate cakes and Italian Torta Caprese are noted - but they contain eggs. This cake is basically chocolate, eggs and some sugar - who could imagine that would work? But it does... and in case you are imagining the cake to be dense (like Sacher Torte) or fudgy (like brownies) - just the opposite - it is light and delicate. The cake must chill for at least 4 hours, so plan ahead - for me this has always been a "day before" prep.
Making the cake is simple. I have modified the method a bit and added important tips about some quirks. After 15 minutes of baking, it looks glorious, but moments after removing it from the oven it collapses and looks rather sad. (I should have taken a picture...) We could start an "ugly cake" trend, but even so it begs to be enrobed in whipped cream - in this case a ganache-like icing. (Be sure to read my Notes / caution about the filling / topping.)
kirschwasser (see Notes)
prep pans; I use springform pans; line the bottom of two 8 x 2" cake pans with parchment (see this how to); secure the parchment to the bottom of the pan with a bit of butter; butter and flour the parchemnt and sides of the pans
bring eggs to room temperature; separate eggs
measure out ingredients
preheat oven to 375 F
6 large eggs, separated
10 TB sugar
Cake Step 1. In the step following this, beaten egg yolks, and then beaten egg whites will be added to melted chocolate. I find it easier to have the eggs ready to be added. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Then add the sugar, one TB at a time. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks just until they become thicker and lighter.
6 oz semisweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB strong coffee
Cake Step 2. (Chocolate can be complex - see Notes below.) Melt chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl over a pot with a small amount of simmering water. The original recipe says to stir the beaten egg yolks into the melted chocolate - I never do that, fearing the risk of chocolate scrambled eggs. Instead, I begin by quickly stirring small amounts of the chocolate into the beaten egg yolks. I do this a few times and only then add the egg yolk / chocolate mixture to the rest of the chocolate (still in the glass bowl over simmering water.) Stir in the vanilla and coffee. Remove from heat.
A small amount at a time, fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake at 375 F for 15-18 minutes. (I remove them at 15 - by then the cakes have risen and the top is dry - poking a cake tester is not helpful for this cake.) As previously mentioned, the cakes will collapse - don't be alarmed. Run a small knife around the the edges to loosen the cakes from the pan and then place them on a rack to cool.
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
Melt chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped). Cool to room temperature. Take care to not let it become too cool. While the chocolate is cooling, using a chilled bowl and beater, whip the cream to to soft peaks. A little bit at a time, fold the chocolate into the cream (not vice versa) - see "split ganache" caution in Notes.
The cake layers are a bit delicate. Once they have cooled and you have removed the parchment, place one layer on the serving tray with the "collapsed" side up.
Sprinkle this layer with kirschwasser - the recipe never specified the amount - whatever it takes to dampen the entire surface - that might even be 1/4 cup.
Then place a clean springform ring around this bottom layer. Cover the layer with about one third of the filling / topping.
Then carefully invert the other layer ("collapsed" side down) and nestle it on top of the filling. Give it a gentle push as it meets the filling below.
You'll end up with a flat cake top and a cake that will be almost flush with the springform ring.
Smoothly spread some of the chocolate mixture over the top. Cover the cake in such a way that the cover does not touch the top.
Chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight. Reserve / refrigerate the rest of the chocolate mixture in a covered container to be used to cover the sides and decorate.
Run a sharp knife around the edlges bfore loosenign the spring form mold. ice the sides and decorate as you wish. Sifted cocoa powder can be sprinkled on the top.
Notes and Tips...
Kirschwasser - sometimes called Kirsch, translates to "cherry water". It's available at liquor stores. it's use in this cake does not result in an over-powering "alcohol" taste, but I'm sure it's key to the overall taste. Many recipes for Black Forest Cake also use sprinklings of Kirsch.
Chocolate - If you are expert at working with chocolate, ignore this. Otherwise, these tips should help. Use good quality chocolate - it melts and mixes better than the typical grocery store brands; semisweet is at least 35%. As Mary Berry from the Great British Bake-off says, chocolate melts in children's pockets, so we need not be aggressive with this task. You can Google methods that include the use of a microwave. This recipe suggests a heat-proof glass bowl over a pot with a wee bit of water. In truth, the original recipe specifies hot, not simmering water - but that goes against everything I have ever heard. Recipes usually specify "simmering, not hot water". I can't help thinking it was a typo. Online, you can also find debates about whether to use a glass or metal bowl. if you want to be very expert, you can measure the temperature while melting chocolate to aim for the optimal point. Chocolate can be "overheated" and even burnt so take care with this step.
Coffee - consider using instant espresso to make such a small measure of coffee.
Split ganache - the filling here is not strictly speaking a "ganache" which is made by melting chocolate in hot cream, but it does combine these two ingredients so the rescue for a split ganache may work here. Why this tip? If you take a close look at the cake photo you can see that the topping is somewhat "grainy". I have made this recipe many times, but not lately and I must have done something differently. I was adding chocolate to the whipped cream bit by bit, and at a certain point dumped that tempered mixture into the remaining chocolate and "smooth and creamy" transformed into a mixture that somewhat resembled scrambled eggs. (So… don’t do what I did - always add the chocolate to the whipped cream and never vice versa and the chocolate should not be too cool). I had no time to research a fix, so used that mixture - even though it was a bit fussy - I had to keep warming my off-set knife to spread it. It still tasted great. Here are some split ganache fixes: add one tablespoon of hot milk/cream and whip - in this case you could add up to 6 TB, but only one at a time and only as necessary. [Source 1; Source 2; Source 3]
Like Chocolatier? Try these Chocolate Kiss Cookies
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