by Stephanie Zonis
16 or more servings
About three years ago, I developed a chocolate decadence, but I was never entirely happy with it. This one is a much better recipe, I think. A decadence is a single-layer, flourless chocolate "cake" of chocolate, eggs, butter, a bit of liqueur, and very little else. It is rich beyond belief and is best served in small slices after a light meal. I have tried serving this with a crème anglaise, but honestly I find the best accompaniment is lightly sweetened whipped cream, so be prepared with plenty of it. The whipped cream cuts through the incredible richness of the chocolate in addition to providing a great taste and visual contrast. Fresh raspberries go beautifully with this, too. I have used orange liqueur here, but other possibilities would be coffee liqueur or rum. Very strong liqueurs, such as black raspberry or peppermint, will overwhelm the chocolate flavor.
You'll need a 9 inch diameter round layer pan to make this; the pan MUST be at least 2 inches deep. If you wish, you can use a 9 inch springform pan (see Note at end of recipe). You'll also need baking parchment, available in some supermarkets and many catalogs and gourmet stores. I use an electric stand mixer, fitted with a whisk beater. I believe you could beat the eggs with a powerful hand-held mixer, but I haven't tried it; it might take longer than 5 minutes. You have your choice of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for the decadence, but whatever you use please make sure it is of best quality. There are few enough ingredients in this, and enough chocolate, that the quality will definitely tell. This would be nice for a party on New Year's Eve, along with that whipped cream and some good champagne. You MUST let this stand at room temperature, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes after slicing, before you eat it. The difference in texture and taste between this cake when it is refrigerator-cold and when it has lost enough of that chill is unbelievable.
This will keep in the fridge for at least a week, if wrapped tightly. I have read repeatedly that desserts of this type do not freeze, but I froze a slice as a test for several days. After defrosting in the refrigerator (still in wrappings), I tried some and it was fine.
20 ounces (1-1/4 pounds) best quality
bittersweet OR semisweet chocolate,
chopped...(I use a combination of 1 pound
bittersweet and 4 ounces semisweet)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
6 eggs, graded "large"
3 Tbsp. orange liqueur
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Butter a 9 inch diameter round layer pan at least 2 inches deep. Line the bottom with a round of baking parchment cut to fit, then line the sides with parchment (it is easiest to do this by cutting strips of parchment 2 inches wide, then cutting the strips into sections no more than about 6 inches long. You'll need a total length of about 31 inches, to allow for some overlap. If the parchment pieces won't stick together where they overlap, butter the overlap area lightly, but don't butter all of the parchment as you did the inside of the pan.) Have ready a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil about 12 inches square. Have ready a pan larger and preferably shallower than your layer pan; the layer pan must be able to fit into this larger pan comfortably, and the larger pan must be at least 1 inch deep. If the larger pan is aluminum, sprinkle about 1 tsp. cream of tartar into the bottom to prevent discoloration.
In large heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolate and butter pats. Place over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir often until almost melted; remove from heat and hot water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
In large bowl of electric mixer, combine eggs and salt. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand at room temperature while chocolate mixture cools. During this time, heat a 4 quart pot of cold water, covered, over high heat to a simmer. When water simmers, turn heat off, but leave covered pot on stovetop.
When chocolate is still slightly warm, add liqueur, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring in after each addition. You want this mixture to be lukewarm when added to the eggs.
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 425 degrees F (400 degrees F if your pan has a dark or black finish). Allow oven to preheat 5 minutes before proceeding.
Fit electric mixer with whisk beater, if available. Beat eggs at low speed until combined. Gradually increase speed to highest. Beat eggs for 5 full minutes, until they are pale and greatly increased in volume; you'll be able to see definite traces of the beater marks in this mixture. When the beater is raised from the bowl, the egg mixture will flow back into the bowl in a thick, pale ribbon. While the eggs beat, place the larger pan into the preheating oven. Reach in and carefully pour enough simmering water into the larger pan to make a layer about 1/2 inch deep. Close oven door.
All at once, add barely-warm chocolate mixture. Beat at medium speed for only about 20 or 30 seconds, until partially combined. The chocolate mixture will deflate the egg mixture somewhat —OK. Remove bowl from mixer. With large spatula, quickly but gently and thoroughly fold chocolate mixture into beaten eggs until batter is a uniform color (the chocolate mixture likes to hide at the bottom of the bowl, so take note!). This will be a fairly stiff batter.
Work quickly now. Turn batter into prepared pan and gently spread level (batter will fill 2/3 to 3/4 of the pan—OK). Gently and carefully place pan of batter into the hot water in the larger pan (be careful that no water gets into the batter). Lightly cover the pan of batter with the square of heavy-duty foil (the foil should not touch the top of the batter). Carefully pour more water into the larger pan to obtain a depth of about 1 inch. (I use a ruler to check this; too much water can affect the baking time.) Close oven door.
Bake 7 minutes. Gently reach in and remove foil cover from layer pan, again being careful not to get water into the cake. Close oven door.
Bake 8 minutes longer (total baking time is 15 minutes). The cake will have risen to slightly above the edge of the pan, and it will appear set only on the outer edges, but do not bake it any longer. CAREFULLY remove layer pan from pan of hot water; set on cake rack to cool.
Cool at room temperature about 1 hour. During cooling, cake will sink slightly. After 1 hour, chill cake at least 3 hours before removing from pan.
To remove from pan, have ready a thin-bladed plastic knife and a larger-diameter frying pan or baking pan half-filled with very hot water. You'll also need a flat serving plate at least 10 inches in diameter, and, if you want to serve the cake right side up, a plastic-wrap-covered flat plate about 10 inches in diameter. With the plastic knife, carefully separate the parchment on the edges of the cake from the pan itself (do not run the knife between the sides of the cake and the parchment). Carefully dip he bottom half of the round pan into the very hot water for 10 seconds. Remove, and dry on a kitchen towel. If the dipping water has cooled substantially, replace it with fresh hot water, then repeat the 10 second dip and drying process. After this second dip, try turning the layer pan upside down (onto the serving plate if you're going to serve the cake upside down, or onto the plastic-wrap-covered plate if you're going to serve it right side up). If the cake won't come out of the pan, dip it as above once or twice more, making sure to towel the pan dry before attempting to turn out the cake. Once cake is out of pan, lift off the layer pan. Gently and carefully peel off the parchment circle and the parchment from the cake sides. If you want to serve the cake right side up, invert it again onto the serving plate. Chill, covering tightly when cold. Store in refrigerator for up to a week (tightly covered); freeze for longer storage.
To serve, use a sharp, straight-edged knife. Run the blade under hot water and shake it off (do not dry) before every cut. Cut thin slices; this is rich-rich-rich. Allow cut slices to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, covered, before serving. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
To bake this in a springform pan, butter the pan (I do this even if the pan is nonstick). Line the sides ONLY with strips of parchment, 2 inches tall and overlapping slightly. Tear off two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, each about 14 inches long, and place in an "X" pattern on a flat surface. Place the assembled, buttered pan in the center of the "X", then bring the foil up around the entire pan so that the outside is completely swathed in foil, right up to the top. Crimp and pleat the foil as necessary so it fits tightly to the outer sides of the pan; if there is a large excess anywhere, trim it off. Make and bake the cake as directed above; after baking, while cake cools at room temperature, carefully and gently peel off the foil on the outside of the pan. Chill as directed. To remove cake from pan, run plastic knife between parchment on sides of cake and edges of pan. Remove sides of springform. Do not try to remove cake from pan bottom. Serve as above, being careful not to scratch pan bottom when cake is cut.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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