Adapted from Maida Heatter
Countess Toulouse-Lautrec’s French Chocolate Cake
from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts
by Maida Heatter, 1995, Random House
Note: It is best to make it a day before serving or at least 6 to 8 hours before, or make it way ahead of time and freeze it. (Thaw before serving.)
1 pound semisweet chocolate
5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) sweet [unsalted] butter, at room temperature
4 eggs (graded large or extra-large), separated
1 Tbsp unsifted all-purpose flour (or matzo cake meal, for Passover)
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1. Adjust rack one-third up from bottom of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees [F.] Separate the bottom and the sides of an 8-inch spring-form pan. Cut a round of baking-pan liner paper or wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan, and butter it on one side. Butter the sides (not the bottom) of the pan. Put the bottom of the pan in place, close the clamp on the side, and place the buttered paper in the pan, buttered side up. Set aside.
2. Break up or coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in the top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Cover until partially melted, then uncover and stir with a rubber spatula until completely melted. Remove the top of the double boiler from the hot water.
3. Add about one-third of the butter at a time and stir it into the chocolate with the rubber spatula. Each addition of butter should be completely melted and incorporated before the next is added. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. In the small bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg yolks at high speed for 5 to 7 minutes until they are pale-colored and thick. Add the Tbsp of flour and beat on low speed for only a moment to incorporate the flour. Add the beaten yolks to the chocolate (which may still be slightly warm but should not be hot) and fold and stir gently to mix.
5. In a clean, small bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites and the salt until the whites hold a soft shape. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat only until the whites hold a definite shape but not until they are stiff or dry. Fold about one-half of the beaten whites into the chocolate – do not be too thorough. Then fold the chocolate into the remaining whites, handling gently and folding only until both mixtures are blended.
6. Turn into the prepared pan. Rotate the pan a bit, first in one direction, then the other, to level the batter.
7. Bake for 15 minutes and remove it from the oven. With a small, sharp knife, carefully cut around the side of the hot cake, but do not remove the sides of the pan. Let the cake stand in the pan until it cools to room temperature. Then refrigerate it for at least several hours or overnight. The cake must be firm when it is removed from the pan.
8. To remove the cake, cut around the sides again with a small, sharp knife. Remove the sides of the pan. Cover the cake with a small cookie sheet or the bottom of a quiche pan or anything flat, and invert. Then carefully insert a narrow spatula or a table knife between the bottom of the pan and the paper lining; move it just enough to release the bottom of the pan. Remove the bottom and peel off the paper lining. Invert a serving plate over the cake and invert the plate and the cake, leaving the cake right side up.
Optional ways of serving:
· Cover the top generously (excluding the rim) with whipped cream. (If you do not plan to serve it all at once and you might want to freeze the leftovers, that is not the best plan.)
· Cover the top generously with large, loose, free-form chocolate shavings made with a vegetable peeler and a thick piece of milk chocolate, and sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the top of the shavings.
· Cover the top of the cake with a generous amount of fresh raspberries or strawberries or Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, and, if you wish, pass soft whipped cream as a sauce.
· Cover the top with peeled and sliced kiwi fruit and strawberries.
· Cover the cake with whipped cream, cover the cream generously with chocolate shavings, and pass brandied cherries separately to be spooned alongside each portion.
· Mound about two-thirds of the cream on top of the cake. Cover the cream generously with chocolate shavings, or dot it with candied violets or rose petals. Fit a pastry bag with a star-shaped tube and use the remaining cream to form a border of rosettes around the rim of the cake.
· One final option: Cut the top of the firm, chilled cake, removing the raised rim and making the top smooth. Then serve the cake upside down, either just as it is or with confectioners’ sugar on top.
Whipped Cream recipe:
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsps confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract, or 2 Tbsps framboise or kirsch
In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters whip the above ingredients until they reach the stiffness you want, depending on how you will use the cream.
Serve the cake cold, in small portions – this is rich!