gianduja bete noir

Hooray!! MCATs are over, finally. Unfortunately I have to wait 30 days to find out my score, but I’m really hoping that I won’t have to take those ever again. Now that I’m done with MCATs and work, I have complete and total freedom!!!!..for about 12 more days before I leave for school. But let’s not think about that!!

Here’s the wonderful chocolate hazelnut flourless chocolate cake I made for when my brother was still here. I used Kate Zuckerman’s Chocolate Bete Noir recipe, and replaced a lot of the butter for praline paste. It was my first time using praline paste, (and it won’t be my last, the can of it that I have is huge! Watch for how I use the remaining amount next!) but I love love love it. Chocolate hazelnut along with chocolate mint are my favorite combinations ever, so, naturally I needed to put this paste into a neverending-chocolate cake.

I haven’t made too many flourless cakes, but I knew I didn’t want one that was too overwhelming, or with a texture that seems like the cake is underbaked. I wanted a cake with a light, almost mousse-like texture. But without having to whip egg whites and yolks separately. I’m demanding, what can I say.

Fortunately, Kate’s cake was exactly that! So simple, without making you struggle to finish a slice. She does have an extra step where you boil the sugar into a simple syrup, which I don’t usually see in flourless cake recipes. But it’s a great idea, because it ensures that your final product is silky smooth, and no gritty crystals to speak of upon reserving after refrigeration.

I really like this best when it is served room temperature, so that when you put a bite in your mouth, it almost melts away. That being said, it lasts forever in the refrigerator (ours almost two weeks…not because we didn’t like it, but we were 3 people with a lot of other desserts to eat too!). Just make sure to take it out 10-15 minutes before you want to serve it (Or you can serve it chilled for the firm, fudgelike experience). I only ask that you serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream that has some Frangelico added to it. It transforms the cake into pure heaven.

Gianduja Bête Noir
Adapted from Kate Zuckerman’s “The Sweet Life”
Makes 10-12 servings

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
9 oz. dark bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
2oz butter, at room temperature
5oz hazelnut praline paste, like this

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Put sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and add 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium- high heat. Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove the pan from the heat. Let the syrup rest for 10 minutes.

2. Chop the chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl. Pour about half of the hot syrup over the chocolate and begin whisking the mixture gently. Add the remaining syrup and whisk until you have a shiny, thick chocolate sauce, about 2 minutes. (The chocolate will seize a bit when you first add the syrup, but as you add more of the syrup the cocoa particles and sugar will dissolve, making the mixture smooth again.)

3. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the salt – and the vanilla extract. Mix together the butter and hazelnut paste so the paste is thinned out, and add the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until all the butter/paste is incorporated and the batter is shiny and somewhat viscous.

4. At this point, you can proceed with baking the cake, or you can refrigerate the batter for up to 3 days. If you refrigerate the batter, you will need to let it sit out until it comes to room temperature.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even out the surface with a spatula. Bake until the center of the cake is set and the top has cracked and developed a glossy, thin crust, around 40 minutes. If the center seems jiggly, bake for another 10 minutes or so.

6. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 hour before serving. Serve with Frangelico whipped cream.

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 1:39 pm  Comments (3)  

pierre herme’s gateau reine de saba

When I finally got to visit Paris this year, I of course had to visit Pierre Herme’s shop, and go crazy inside! Besides trying various macarons, I definitely wanted to purchase a cookbook of his in the shop as a keepsake. That cookbook turned out to be his “Larousse du Chocolat.”

This book truly is incroyable! It has many categories- cookies, cakes, tarts, confections…and each is divided into “simple” and “for impressing.” Although my French is a little lacking, I figured I could just use an online translator for whatever I needed… and if not, well, looking through the much adored Herme’s recipes and pictures would be enough for me.

Fortunately, I was able to piece together instructions well enough, and made my first thing out of the book today: Gateau de Reine de Saba. This is a fairly simple cake, especially when it comes to Pierre Herme, but simplicity is sometimes just what you need. I paired it with fantastically sweet strawberries, and it was a wonderful way to end a summer meal.

There is a slight crispy crust on top that gives way to a moist interior, and thanks to the almond flour, has a firm, yet soft texture, all at the same time. The gateau is not too rich or sweet, with a strong chocolate flavor that really shines with the cocoa powder on top. I can’t wait to tackle more recipes from this book!

Gateau Reine de Saba
From Pierre Herme’s “Larousse du Chocolat”

125 grams 60% bittersweet chocolate
60 grams butter
3 eggs
125 grams powdered sugar
40 grams potato starch
75 grams almond flour
20 grams cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and mix well.
Separate the eggs, and in a stand mixer, whip the egg yolks and sugar for 3 minutes, until lightened in color.
Add the potato starch and almond flour.
Stir with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula and add the melted chocolate and butter.
Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt, and gently mix in to the chocolate mixture.
Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured 18 cm charlotte mold (I used a 9 inch springform pan, which is probably why mine came out so flat), and bake for 40 minutes (due to my much wider pan, I only baked for 30 and that was still a bit too much).
After taking it out of the oven, unmold the cake on a cooling rack and let it cool.
Sprinkle the cocoa powder on top when cool to serve.

Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 9:54 pm  Comments (5)  

lavender lemon pound cake: home, at last!

Whew!! Finals finally over, moving out finally over…….and now, back in the good ole STL. I have basically been bumming around at home, which is strange after the hecticness of end of semester. Of course, the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was… bake! Ah, to be reunited with my lovely kitchen full of supplies and ingredients. I haven’t participated in a Sugar High Friday (created by The Domestic Goddess) in quite some time, since the days of my old blog I used to own, but now that I’m home and baking-able again with a new food blog going, I wanted to jump right in!

For this edition of Sugar High Fridays hosted by Tartelette, I was a little concerned because citrus is not my family’s favorite flavor, with the tartness of lemon items not truly appreciated. However, I had been eyeing the recipe for Lavender Lemon Pound Cake from The Last Course by Claudia Fleming, and it seemed like such a wonderful springy, homey cake, and I bought dried lavender a long time ago and never gotten around to using it (this happens for many other ingredients besides lavender……), so I decided it was perfect for this event. Plus, I am a little late for doing something for my mom for mother’s day, and this cake seems incredibly mother-y for some reason…

I ended up not going with the recipe from The Last Course though… because for, the dessert cookbook of the month is Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert/Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts (I love Alice Medrich! I have made many things from Bittersweet and Art of Low-Fat Desserts, all of which have turned out great. Can’t wait to make things from Pure Dessert!), and I wanted to knock two out with one baked good, so I took her Cranberry Pecan Cake recipe from Lowfat Desserts and adapted it with Lavender Lemon flavors for the ultimate in a fresh and springy cake with the ability to feel somewhat healthy when eating it for breakfast. I even used a new Earth Balance 50/50 butter/vegetable oil blend stick, which said it was “great for baking!” so I put it to the test. 🙂 I also used lemon oil instead of zest because we don’t keep lemons around in our home and it’s a lot less effort than going out to buy lemons and zesting them and what not.

The cake turned out quite nicely, especially with the glaze on top. I figured out the reason why I love glazes like that on top of baked goods is because it reminds me of biting into a glazed donut, mmm. I think I may have overmixed it a bit so it was a tad on the dry side…but the flavors I was really pleased with, and my mother loved it as well!! To have my non-lemon loving mother love this cake was pretty much the stamp of approval for this recipe. 🙂

Lavender Lemon Pound Cake
Adapted from “Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts”

Alice Medrich had some crazy mixing instructions, that I don’t think really improved the texture, and perhaps might have led me to confusion and overbeating the batter anyway… Also, her recipe originally called for an 8-cup tube pan, so feel free to use that as well.

2 cups cake flour (8 oz)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 whole egg
1 egg white
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon oil
2 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat yogurt

6 tbsp powdered sugar
3 tbsp water
1/4 tsp lemon oil

1. Have all ingredients at room temperature, preheat oven to 350ºF, line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the whole egg and egg white together. Set aside.
3. Beat butter for about 1 minute with the lavender (I didn’t actually do this, but realized I should have afterwards). Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat on high for about 3 minutes. Dribble eggs in slowly, about 1 tbsp at a time, beating constantly for about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in a third of the flour mixture. Then add half of the yogurt, and then beat in half of the remaining flour. Last, add the rest of the yogurt, the vanilla, and lemon oil, and beat in the rest of the flour.
4. Scrape into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 min on a rack. Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, water, and lemon oil together to form a glaze. Unmold the cake, brush the glaze over the top and sides until all glaze is used. Cool, or serve warm, it is good that way too!


Published in: on May 16, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments (8)