Baking Jargon: I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what a “Chantilly” is (the first hits on Google tell me it’s a place in France, Virginia and a high school) and I only have a vague idea of what a “trifle” is (I imagine something British). But I saw this recipe on the Best of Baking website and decided it looked just complicated enough for me to attempt.
The “Disasters”: I did not have any rum on hand (that began to slowly disappear the last time I was home from college), nor any cognac, so I decided to replace that with Kahlua, my baking alcohol of choice. I also lacked coffee beans to make the “chantilly,” so I compensated with some well-brewed coffee. For the most part, though, this recipe went pretty smoothly. Now back at home from college, I have access to a full-size kitchen equipped with almost everything an amateur baker could possibly want. No having to share a dorm kitchen with idiot freshmen guys attempting to pan-fry spicy sausages in a basement without proper ventilation, no having to take cookies out of the oven with your shirt because there are no potholders to be found, no getting caught making out with your date while you wait for your brownies to bake…
For the cake:
- 5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp Kahlua
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cold eggs
- 1 cold egg white
For the mocha chantilly:
- 1½ cups whipping cream
- 2 T strongly brewed coffee, cooled
- ½ cup of milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 vanilla beans (well, the innards of them, at least)
Make the cake:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the sides of the 8-inch round spring-form pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan into several layers of heavy-duty foil. Trut me. You’ll need it. Put a pot of water on to boil.
Place the chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine the cocoa, flour, ½ cup of the sugar, and the salt in a small heavy saucepan. Whisk in enough of the water to form a smooth paste (the three TBSP will do), then whisk in the remaining water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (especially around the edges of the pan) to prevent scorching, until the mixture begins to simmer. Simmer very gently, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Immediately pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the Kahlua and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, egg white, and the remaining ½ cup sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until nearly doubled in volume, 5 to 6 minutes (agonizing). The eggs will be very foamy but still liquid rather than thick. One third at a time, fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and gently bang the pan on the counter to settle the mixture.
Set the cake pan in a large baking pan at least 2 inches deep. Pour enough boiling water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cake rises and crusts slightly on top and the surface springs back when gently pressed, about 30 minutes. It will have the consistency of an undercooked cake, gooey but not liquidy. Remove the cake pan CAREFULLY from the water and cool completely on a rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
Make the mocha chantilly:
Place the cream and coffee into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to prevent the cream from scorching. Put the chopped chocolate into a large bowl. Pour heated cream mixture over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined completely with the cream. Let it cool, then cover and refrigerate until cold. Once cold, whip the cream-chocolate mixture until medium peaks form.
Lift the elbow of the arm you hold your racket with up into the air so that your racket is behind your back. With your other hand, throw the tennis ball straight up. While the ball is still in the air, swing the racket up and over to hit the ball.
Just kidding. To serve this very rich dessert, find a smallish bowl (six inches in diameter, approximately). Fill the bottom completely with about half of the cake. Lightly spoon the whipped cream mixture on top, completely covering the cake. Layer the other half of the cake on top of that. Top with the rest of the cream. Use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries for garnish. Serve in small quantities (tiny desserts are in vogue).