This is a variation of one of my older recipes, literally the first dessert I made at ten-01. I learned this one from Tony, of course, and I’ve been tweaking it ever since. If you review the earlier version, you’ll notice a few changes in the recipe below. Firstly, the weights have changed. Somewhere along the line, while converting it for various applications, I skewed the amounts. The newer proportions reflect just how many times I’ve made this recipe, how many times I’ve observed it’s subtleties. Chef actually improved upon its technique by mistake while I was in Europe. Anyway, here’s whats changed and why.
This recipe contains all my favorite ingredients; butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar, and booze. I was taught to melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler Then whisk together the sugar and the eggs. Then, when the chocolate was melted, everything was whisked together with the booze and baked in a water bath in ten inch cake pans. When baked and thoroughly cooled we glazed them with a one to one ganache and sliced them in 16 portions. Onto a marble and out to the buffet. Simple and decadently effective. The main trick then (and now) was knowing when to pull them from the oven. They never really look baked, all loose and jiggly. It’s still a kind of leap of faith for me when I pull them. I find myself touching them every five minutes until they cool and solidify.
At Carlyle this recipe started to evolve. The original recipe, just cut in half, was giving me some great results. I realized at this point how similar this cake was to cheesecake, and I treat cheesecake like a custard. I started baking it at a lower temperature, and turning off the oven for the last half hour of baking. A thick, fudgey texture was my reward. I started trying different molds, and building up creamy layers. The best version at those times was with passionfruit, I wanted to call it Sexual Chocolate.
For my tasting at ten-01, I baked the cake in a small ring mold and served it with brown butter ice cream. It was over the top rich and showed I wasn’t afraid to knock people unconscious with chocolate. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as they ate it (”They don’t hate you, they don’t hate you, they don’t even KNOW you, man!”) I got the job, needless to say, and the cake ended up on the first menu. I started to bake it in frames around this time, and that marks the first change in the recipe’s proportions. Every time I pulled the 1/2 sheet cakes from the oven, the tops were just pooled with butter. I think this happened because the cakes where to big to cook through before basically breaking. I tried varying oven temperatures, mixing techniques, and finally ended up just reducing the amount of butter. The cake had a slightly more crumbly texture but was still dense and fudgy. Chef suggested I started serving the cake at room temperature. Chef knows a lot about food. Much like cheese, the cake was way better at room temp. He actually improved upon the recipe by mistake, confusing the bread pudding technique with this one and whipped it on high speed for over 15 minutes. The cake melted in the mouth, inducing groaning. This version of the cake sold really well. It seemed like it was around forever. I started to get bored with it. I replaced it with another Tony Classic and tried to forget about it.
Fast forward three or four menus. The servers are clamoring for a rich, knock-out chocolate dessert. The stupid Guinness brownie thing just wasn’t working. Marble Cheesecake? Yeah, kind of, but not quite. Scouring the internet for ideas, I came across this. The tenth item on McCormick’s 2008 Flavor Forecast was rubbed sage and rye whiskey. Things started to click into place in my mind; the hamster running in its wheel turned the lock’s tumblers to open my mind on a new idea. I knew whiskey and chocolate worked. Would I use whiskey in the cake or in the sauce? I knew how to make a kick-ass mint ice cream, would it work with sage? And would it go with the rich fudginess of the cake? As it turns out, it does. Famously. I remember standing in the walk-in waiting for the ice cream base to cool down enough to spin. I had some whiskey caramel left over form the Guinness brownie. I spooned the caramel into my mouth followed by the sage base. Closing my eyes, nodding, I reached to the top shelf for a beer…it was time to celebrate.
“Oh wait…” I thought, “…it’s only 6:30.” I started straight away making a batch of flourless chocolate cake. Scanning over the ingredients, I encountered a problem. I’ve only made this recipe with alcohol. It’s always been whiskey, or Grand Mariner or Bailey’s or something. I knew this recipe really well and just knew that I had to come up something to use in the place of whiskey, 3/4 of a cup of what, dammit, air? Suddenly it hit me. Water.
This batch of cakes, baked in my handy new flexipans, was one of the best I’ve created. Fudgy, of course, but the main flavor was chocolate. Not booze, but chocolate. Water made this possible. Having worked in pastry for a few years, this really struck me. Water, the arch-nemesis of chocolate, was helping me showcase chocolate in this recipe. Sometimes when things seem weird at first, proper handling can produce fantastic results. Water is now my new favorite ingredient. Even chocolate isn’t scared anymore. I even used the two together it in the mirror glaze. Anyway, enough of my jawing, here’s the recipes for my faithful readers, and also for the readers of the Willamette Week, who will find this cake in the October 15th Restaurant Guide.
Chocolate Flourless Cake
1 pound 14 ounces chocolate (64%)
1 pound 8 ounces butter
15 ounces eggs
15 ounces sugar
3/4 cup water
1. Pre-heat your convection oven to 200 F.
2. Weigh the chocolate into a bowl and set aside.
3. Weigh the butter into a sauce pot, and bring it to a boil.
4. Weigh the eggs and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip light and fluffy.
5. Pour the boiling butter over the chocolate, give the bowl a shake and a spin and let stand two minutes.
6. Whisk the chocolate until smooth.
7. Fold the whipped eggs into the melted chocolate, then fold in the water.
8. Pour the batter into the flexipans and bake in a water bath until set, about 30 minutes.
9. Cool properly and chill thoroughly before demolding and glazing.
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
9 ounces chocolate
enough hot water to reach desired consistency
1. Weigh the chocolate into a bowl.
2. Measure the corn syrup and heavy cream into a sauce pot and bring to a boil.
3. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate, give the bowl a shake and a spin and let stand two minutes.
4. Whisk the chocolate until smooth.
5. Whisk in enough hot water to make the glaze loose and pour easily.
Assembly- Set the de-molded cakes on a glazing rack and ladle the hot glaze over the cakes. Chill the cakes and apply a second coat. Serve at room temperature with Sage Ice Cream and Whiskey Caramel.