I can think of multiple reasons to bake a chocolate cake. Birthday, Valentine's Day, to sweet-talk your neighbor into doing you a favor, or just because it's Monday and you are going to need all the help possible to get through the week.
After baking, the cake is split in two layers. Traditionally, apricot jam is spread in the center and on top of the cake, then the cake is glazed with a dark chocolate ganache. For a tantalizing winter variation, we used the Clementine Marmalade instead. It was fantastic, so good in fact that next time we plan to slice into three layers so we get more marmalade in between the perfectly moist cake layers.
Note : Fine pastry requires that ingredients be measured by weight rather than with measuring cups. Digital kitchen scales such as this one are inexpensive and include metric units.
CAKE – 8” springform pan
150 g dark chocolate (min. 55% cocoa content)
Seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g softened butter
100g powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
100 g superfine sugar (available at better grocery stores, or you can make your own by spinning granulated sugar in a blender for a minute.)
140 g pastry flour + 1 tsp baking powder
8 ounces clementine marmalade
100g. dark chocolate (use top quality couverture chocolate)
¾ tsp. powdered gelatin
90g. sweetened condensed milk
90g. glucose syrup or mild honey
Unsweetened whipped cream to garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line the base of a springform pan with parchment paper, butter the pan, and dust with a little flour.
- Melt the chocolate over simmering water. Let cool until you can comfortably dip a finger in it. If you add hot chocolate to your egg mix, your cake won’t rise.
- Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, or add your vanilla extract.
- Using a mixer with balloon whisk, beat the softened butter with the icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
- Separate the eggs.
- Whisk the egg yolks into the butter mixture one by one.
- Gradually add the melted chocolate.
- Beat the egg whites with the salt and superfine sugar until stiff, then place on top of the butter and chocolate mixture. Sift the flour over the mixture, then fold the flour and beaten egg whites into the batter.
- Transfer the mixture to the springform pan, smooth the top, and bake in the oven (middle rack) for approximately 50 minutes. (The cake is done when it yields slightly to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.)
- Remove the cake from the oven. Wait 10 minutes, then loosen the sides of the springform.
- Carefully tip the cake onto a cake rack lined with parchment paper and let cool for approximately 20 minutes. Then turn the cake over and leave on rack to cool completely.
- Cut the cake in half horizontally. Warm the jam and stir until smooth. Brush the top of both cake halves with the jam and place one on top of the other. Brush the sides with jam as well.
Making a smooth, glossy chocolate glaze that will spread evenly requires some finesse. Some recipes are very complicated and overwhelming. Others don’t work at all and leave you with a dull, grainy finish. This is my technique. It is pretty easy, but once again it requires a scale.
- Place the water and the gelatin in a small saucepan. Allow the gelatin to dissolve for 5 minutes before placing the saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring the water and gelatin mix to a simmer, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or spatula until completely dissolved.
- Add the sweetened condensed milk and glucose syrup or honey.
- Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until evenly mixed. You don’t need to bring this mix to a boil. You want to be able to dip a finger in it without burning yourself before pouring it over the chocolate.
- Pour the liquid mix over the chocolate, stirring gently and slowly. You want to avoid creating air bubbles. Stir just long enough to obtain a glossy, evenly warm glaze. You want your glaze to be at around 103 degrees Fahrenheit when you spread it so it will flow beautifully.
- Working from the outside toward the center, drizzle the glaze evenly over the top of the cake, and use a palette knife or butter knife to even the glaze out over the sides of the cake.
- Make sure your cake is completely cool or better yet ice cold when you spread the warm glaze over it. This will yield a beautiful finish you will be proud to serve.
Serve with unsweetened whipped cream.