Friday, August 18, 2006

Extraordinary Chocolate Cake for an Ordinary Friday Morning

I must confess to eating chocolate cake for breakfast, again, but in my defense, this cake is so irresistible and rich, it is too good not to eat for breakfast. I didn't take a photo because I didn't have the properly molded specialty pan, so my version of this cake is not nearly as gorgeous as the photo shown with the recipe in Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserie. Since mine still tastes as beautiful as that gorgeous, glossy photo, I have to share the recipe.

Le Pleyel

6 ounces/180 grams best-quality semisweet
or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons/150 grams
unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons/65 grams
sliced blanched almonds
1 1/4 cups/175 grams confectioners' sugar
4 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons/80 grams
all-purpose flour

Butter and flour an 8 x 4-inch/20 x 10-cm loaf pan; set aside. Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.

Place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed just over a pan of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until melted and smooth. Meanwhile, grind the almonds with 1/2 cup/70 grams of the confectioners' sugar in a food processor. Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture. Then whisk the remaining 3/4 cup/105 grams confectioners' sugar, then the ground almond mixture. Remove this mixture from the heat and set aside.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla and beat until quite stiff but not dry. With a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until not quite blended. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold together gently just until blended, no longer.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes (the top may crack slightly). Lower the heat to 375°F/190°C and bake until the cake has set but is still slightly wobbly, about 25 minutes longer. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out slightly damp. Cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes.

Carefully run a knife blade around the edges of the pan and gently unmold the cake onto a wire rack. Cool to room temperature, then wrap in plastic and chill. Remove from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before cutting into slices. The Pleyel can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Serves 8 to 10.

Until we meet for coffee,


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