2.20.2012

The Signature Cake (and a De-Cluttering Top Tip)



Before this week’s post begins check out my video called Clutter-Free Home: Checking the Mail. In the video I share with you my top tip for dealing with mail and paperwork in an orderly manner. If you are unable to see the embedded video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

And now for this week’s post:

The Signature Cake

When I lived in Paris one of the things that greatly impressed me were the homemade desserts we enjoyed on a regular basis. Madame Chic had her arsenal of recipes. Fruit tarts were her specialty- mainly apple in the winter and strawberry in the summer- but she also liked to make crêpes, custards, fruit salads and cake.

Madame Bohemienne had a few dessert recipes she always made as well but my favorite was her flourless chocolate cake. That cake was so moist and delicious… It looked very simple but was a show stopper and the ultimate pièce de résistance at her dinner parties. She told me it was really easy to make and that she didn’t even use a recipe anymore- she had made it so many times the steps and ingredients were engrained in her memory.

Having a signature cake recipe, a simple one that you can make easily and that you can perfect, is a great thing to have.

Since being back in America I have searched high and low for a flourless chocolate cake recipe that rivals that of Madame Bohemienne’s and I have found one that I can now call my own.



This recipe is from the Epicurious website. It’s a delicious recipe and oh so French. The ingredients are very simple, as are the steps (everything is mixed in one bowl- which also cuts down on cleaning time). The ingredients are also common- you will most likely have these things on hand in your home so if you find that you’ve got last minute dinner guests it would be easy to whip one together.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper. Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with ice cream if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)

The recipe does require a double boiler like mine pictured below.



If you don’t have one of these you can always use a bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and that should work just fine. Also wax paper is imperative to line the bottom of the pan (and don’t forget to butter underneath and on top of the paper. This allows the cake to come out smoothly…) And finally, it’s not in the recipe, but a small sprinkling of confectioners sugar on top is a nice touch.

I would love to know… Do you have a signature cake?

To see the recipe on the Epicurious website, click here.


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24 comments:

Merveilleux said...

This is so funny! I saw the title of this post in my Google Reader and thought of my own flourless chocolate cake. Then I saw you post about yours!
I use this recipe:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/flourless-chocolate-cake-i/detail.aspx

I use semi-sweet Scharffenberger chocolate. It's so rich and decadent everyone I serve it to practically falls comatose around the table ;)

Anonymous said...

I used to have a signature cake ( I just haven't made one in a long while). It is also flourless; instead of chocolate, I use almond paste, canned peaches, and egg. The batter is similar to Frangipane tart's filling. I bake this cake in baby muffin molds. They came out perfect and moist each time, due to the addition of the canned peach. Think of it as a more moist, fruity-er version of Financier.

Patricia said...

Hi Jennifer, love the video as always. I just wanted to add that, since I don't have a shredder handy, I always tear my address from the envelope (and from any letters that I am recycling too) and deal with them separately, ie rip into small pieces and put into the garbage. This takes care of the danger of identity theft!

Nanne said...

I do actually have a signature cake - a chocholate/raspberry cheesecake. Everytime I serve this cake it vanishes in an instant:) It's very easy to make and doesn't require any actual baking, as the crust is made from chocholate chip cookies and butter. Thanks for the decluttering tips, by the way!

Monique said...

I love the simplicity of this recipe, I must try it! Beautiful serving plate. I like Ina Garten's French Brownie tart served with creme anglais. My signature is that I like to bake it in a French tart pan. It feels so elegant that way.

LMK said...

Have a scrumptious gingerbread cake recipe. And depending on the occassion use it in different variations - mixing in dried fuits (cherries, cranberries) or white chocolate, etc. Have also served them as muffins and puddle jams in the middle. Around Christmas is my youngest daughter's birthday and we serve them to her class as cupcakes with a cream cheese topping and crushed peppermint sticks sprinkled on top. My favorite is plain and simple. The amount of molasses the recipe calls for makes it so soft and delish. I like it because it only calls for 1/2 a cup of honey, no other sweetener needed, as the molasses does the trick! I have one daily with tea for my adult moment, savoring every bite.

OK, I'm hungry now! ; )

Stacey said...

I like to make clafoutis in the summer and not just the traditional black cherries.I've used figs and apricots too. The ingredients are simple and it's very easy to make. It can also be quite impressive when it puffs in the oven.

LM said...

My favorite is Marie-Helene's French Apple Cake from Around my French Table. Everything whisks together quickly; no electonics necessary. Has a little rum and four different kinds of apples. Tres simple.

Mindy said...

I love the idea of a "signature" cake! Can't wait to try out yours. My french hostess was an excellent cook but didn't do much with dessert. Instead I learned from her to keep a carton of high quality ice cream in the freezer (her favorite was rum raisin, mine is a vanilla bean speckled vanilla). She would always have a few apples on hand as well. That way she could saute some apple slices in butter and cinnamon sugar for a very delicious dessert when needed. This has become one of my favorites especially since having married an "ice cream" man.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Ladies, all this talk of cake is making me very hungry! Thank you for sharing your signature cakes and recipes (Merveilleux I'm going to go check out your recipe now). I love new ideas to add to my repertoire! Jennifer x

Katalina said...

I just made your signature cake, and it is fabulous! My family is relishing it right now. Thank you!

Kristi said...

Looks fantastic. My one French friend in Minnesota (who has since moved) had a signature flourless chocolate cake she would bring to dinner parties. They were so amazing, that for a while she started a side business selling them until she began working as a teacher ...

J. said...

I don't, but I really should have, that is such a wonderful idea!

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

The cake recipe looks fab, I will have to try it out for company soon. Maybe for my Mad Men party at the end of March? :)

Katalina said...

I'd like to add that your cake really does keep very well, and it's so rich and dense that you feel satiated with a "French" sized piece (as opposed to an "American" sized piece, as my Italian friend likes to say). We've been enjoying it with a little vanilla ice cream, but creme anglaise would be fantastic, too.

The dessert I've somehow become known for is a blueberry panna cotta that is so simple and luxurious. It originally ran in Parade magazine; here's the link:
http://www.parade.com/food/recipes/parade/123-bake-blueberry-panna-cotta.html

To keep it even more simple, I just make them in little ramekins so I don't have to try to loosen and invert them. Decadent!

Amy said...

You could use parchment paper instead of messing around with buttering waxed paper.

Rebekah said...

I just completed reading your book and posted a mini-review. Congratulations on the success you are enjoying!

I make a similar cake to yours in that it is flourless, but I use stevia instead of sugar. With raspberries or a vanilla-yogurt sauce, it is much more elegant than an American chocolate cake - though those are quite delicious and certainly have a place.

Anonymous said...

Rebekah, I love your idea of the vanilla-yoghurt sauce! Is there any special way you make it?

laura said...

When we used a double boiler at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, we always just use a bigger pan on bottom and put a piece of par towel in it, then the smaller pan on top. with the ingredients. The paper towel acts as a buffer, like the air between your two pans does. (and thus preventing burning). It works like a charm for those who do not want to buy a double boiler or need a bigger pot.

Kathy said...

The cake looks yummy and something that even I can make! Thanks for the recipe.

I am with you on the mail. I have always sorted through it immediately. It is great to get rid of the paper clutter and also keeps us from losing something important like a bill or invitation.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Thank you for this...I will be trying it. : )~~Bliss

Cindy La Ferle said...

Wonderful! I have invited a few friends for a French dinner (we'll be watching "Amelie" afterward) and was looking for the perfect dessert. Thanks for this recipe. Hope all is still going well for your fabulous book!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer, my signature cake is a chocolate and almond cake called "Reine de Saba". It is a French classic and made famous by Elizabeth David.
I enjoy your blog very much , thank you. I work part time, and have three boys aged 10, 8, & 7 so life is busy. However I relate so well to what you what you have written in your book, that I keep it handy as a gentle reminder when I veer off track!
Gabrielle in Australia

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

I have made a flourless chocolate cake before too and everyone loved it. My signature cake would be a simple orange cake with orange flavoured icing. One of my sister's passed the recipe on to me and I have made it so many times since I wouldn't even be able to count (I use it to bake cupcakes too). It is a favourite with my friends. I have to ask, where did you get that double boiler? I don't have one but would love one like that.

 
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