United We Chocolate

Chocolate is no longer a benign treat. It’s a proxy for global economics, shifting consumer preferences and transatlantic tension.

On an individual level, chocolate can reveal a lot about a person.

IMGP5082The person who “doesn’t really like sweets” is clearly someone who doesn’t really know how to accept love into their lives. The person who likes dessert, just not those of the chocolate variety, are probably painfully dull and/or compulsive liars.

People that like or, if it’s even possible, prefer white chocolate are as F. Scott Fitzgerald might say, beautiful little fools. People that turn their Roman noses up in disgust at the thought of a true blue Hershey’s milk chocolate bar are definitely Communists, steel-hearted and undeserving of your attention.

My kind of people are equal opportunity cacao folk. The people who chew in slow admiration on velvety Ghirardelli squares, who only eat cake that’s chocolate and iced in fudge frosting,  who would offer up an appendage in exchange for froufrou things like dark chocolate mousse or pot de crème…but who, at the end of the day, are easily placated by the familiar rectangles of a Hershey’s bar.

Despite the myriad of international and interpersonal conflict chocolate can trigger, there are some desserts I feel are capable of bringing everyone back on the same page. (Note that I’m also someone who firmly believes that if the entire world had access to Au Cheval’s cheeseburgers, there’d be no more war or general unhappiness.)

IMGP5091

Embrace your cracks. Cracks are good.

This almost flourless chocolate cake is very much one of those desserts. It requires strong dark chocolate, pandering to the demands of those who find milk chocolate inferior. It’s still plenty sweet and fudge-y enough to please those of us who prefer the taste of processed chocolate to the bitter, pure version. It can be tweaked easily enough to accommodate the gluten free chocolatiers among us (but with 5 eggs, the same concessions can’t be made for vegans.)

Most importantly, it’s so rich that only small slices will do…meaning you’ll get to come home to decadence for days. I’d like to think that all of us can agree on the benefits of that.

Not quite flourless chocolate cake
Makes one ~9 inch cake; Adapted from Food52

7 oz quality dark chocolate
7 oz (=14 tbsp…yikes) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
large eggs
tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375º and grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cake pan (or, if you have it, springform pan.) Line the pan with parchment paper and butter that as well.

Chop up the chocolate. Every real cook will tell you to melt this in a bowl using the “double boiler” method, but this cook obviously doesn’t have the equipment for that. I put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke in ~22 second intervals, stirring between each (to avoid burning). After just a few intervals of heating/stirring, the chocolate should be nice and smooth.

Add the butter cubes to the chocolate and stir until both are melted together. Full disclosure, I (hazardously) stirred the butter and chocolate in front of the open (preheated) oven to facilitate the melting without more microwaving. Amateur move, perhaps, but it in no way hurt the end result. Once that’s all over with, mix in the sugar and set aside to cool slightly.

Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well between each, then mix in the flour. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for ~25 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready if the top of the cake starts to crackle. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before popping out (and be sure to configure it right side up on a plate). Springform users can wait until serving to snap off the pan rim.

This cake ages best in the freezer (just be sure to take it out around an hour before eating to take the chill off.) Serve with whip cream, ice cream, berries or naked.

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