May 19th, 2006

Nemesis

http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/archives/2006/05/nemesis.html

Chocolate Nemesis or Decadence

« A flourless chocolate cake that goes by the name Chocolate Decadence ore Chocolate Nemesis. It could also be called The Dark Slab. :) »

I've been baking lately, but I've been too distracted and lazy to write about it as once I get home from work and walk the dog, I begin the slow drift of falling asleep on the sofa. I've been working my way through the same book for over a week now, too. Largesse is my middle name. Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. :)

In my spate of baking ennui, I noticed a friend had tried to make a chocolate cake with disappointing results. With a name like 'Chocolate Nemesis', I was curious and started poking around on the net and was amazed to find that this single recipe was responsible for countless angst-filled laments about wasted expensive chocolates and ruined dinner party desserts. This cake has four ingredients, how could people go so consistently wrong and not lynch the authors of the recipe/cookbook? Good question.

It is a flourless chocolate cake in its most basic form and, while you need to follow the directions carefully, this is likely one of the easiest cakes you can possibly make. I consulted my hefty tome of pastry and found a recipe almost precisely like the one causing all the flopped cakes except that it didn't call for overbeating the eggs, fleshed out little details like buttering the pan and lining it with baking paper and, most importantly, it included the all-important refrigeration. It has to be cold to set firmly for removing from the cake form and cutting.

So, no nemesis, just a rich chocolate cake that is easy, easy, easy to make. Take no shit from bad cookbooks and bad recipes, especially ones that seem to circulate around the net like wildfire. When you read through a recipe, it should have enough detail so that you aren't asking questions like what pan to use or how much water, etc. If you have more than one item left in doubt, keep looking for a better recipe. Bad cookbooks with bad, untested recipes really should get sent straight back to the publisher with a pointed critique as they keep on churning out these lame cookbooks as though they are completely unaware that some folks might actually try cook something from them. It's a pet peeve of mine.

Chocolate Decadence, a.k.a. Chocolate Nemesis

Makes: 1 10-in/25cm cake with 8-16 servings
Time: 20 minutes prep + 30-40 mins bake + 2-8 hours refrigeration
Source: The Professional Pastry Chef

  • 7 oz or 200g sweet dark chocolate (70% cacao)*
  • 7 oz or 200g unsweetened chocolate (85%+ cacao)*
  • 3/4 cup or 150ml water
  • 6 oz or 170g granulated sugar
  • 2.25 sticks or 255g butter, room temperature
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 oz or or 85g granulated sugar
  1. Generously butter the inside of a round 10-inch/25cm cake pan or springform pan. Cut baking paper to fit in the bottom of the cake pan, place on the bottom and butter the top of the paper as well. Set pan aside.
  2. Chop chocolate into small pieces and place on a sheet of baking paper. Slice butter into small pieces, too, and place on baking paper.
  3. In a saucepan big enough to hold the chocolate and butter, bring the water and 170g of sugar to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth. Add the butter and stir in until melted and the mixture is again smooth. Set aside and allow to cool until it is only warm to the touch.
  4. In a large bowl, whip the eggs with the 85g of sugar at high speed until it is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Do not whip the eggs as you would for a sponge cake as too much air will make the cake dry, crumbly and difficult to slice. Slowly pour the cool or warm melted chocolate into the egg mixture. Try to pour it down the side of the bowl and not directly onto the egg mixture. Mix together gently and well.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan and carefully place it into a pan filled with a small amount of water and add water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. If you use a springform pan, wrap the pan in a layer of aluminum foil to prevent leaking.
  6. Bake immediately at 175C/350F for about 30-40 minutes or until the top feels firm. Be careful not to overbake the cake. Allow the cake to cool for an hour and then refrigerate for a minimum of two hours or, even better, overnight.
  7. To remove the cake from the pan place in a shallow pan of warm water and run a knife carefully around the edge. Invert onto a plate and gently tap around the top if it is slow to unmold. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the baking paper. If you used a springform, run a warm knife around the edge, remove the band, place a plate on top of the cake and flip over onto the plate. Remove the bottom and then remove the baking paper on top.
  8. Using a thin, sharp knife dipped in hot water, slice the cake while it is cold and allow to warm up before serving. Serve with a raspberry or strawberry sauce/puree and sour cream.

* You can also just use 400g/14oz of 70% semi-sweet/bittersweet dark chocolate instead.