Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Today I took a midterm exam, for the first time in about four years, in my Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques course. While I was going through the 100 question test, I found myself thinking flashing back to mini-lessons regarding effective test taking skills in the classroom. Oh, if I was a student in my 4th grade class, I would have made my teacher-self proud as I read each question and marked evidence for each response-- I wished I could have told my students, "See! You will really use this skill later on beyond the STAR test!".
Is it kind of nerdy that I enjoyed taking my midterm? Considering that I am leaning towards "yes" being the don't have to answer that question. This return to school has placed such a spark in my thirst for learning as I immerse myself in subjects that I am truly passionate about. As a result, I guess I like taking exams.
Another thing I find myself enjoying since I started pastry school is access to the campus library-- it is stocked with incredible cooking and baking books (plus amazing design and decorating books that I noodle through). After my midterm, I meandered in the library and browsed through a variety of books before bumping into one of my favorite people-- Martha Stewart.

Okay, so I didn't really bump into her (I wish!)...but I suppose you expected that. Instead, I found this great recipe for a flourless chocolate cake in one of her cookbooks that immediately left me with a craving I couldn't erase. So, Martha and her cake followed me home until I could whip up something similar.

And, ladies and gentleman, that's exactly how this cake happened. Inspired by Martha, made and adapted by yours truly. Technically it is a flourless cake, but there are so many recipe components that remind me of a chocolate soufflé that I decided to name my version as such. The chocolate is rich, the texture is smooth and airy, the flavor is deep and perfectly sweet, and a slice totally hits the spot. The beauty of this delectable dessert is it is bound to look imperfect-- no stress at all about a smooth perfect surface. The crispy and dropped surface hides the cloud like interior. No ugly duckling judgements here!

A little bit of orange pastry cream and pistachios? Well, don't mind if I do!
Chocolate Soufflé Cake
makes one 6" cake

3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Prepare a 6" springform pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper. Moderately rub the paper and insides of the pan with unsalted butter.

1. In a large clean bowl,  use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
2. Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a microwave safe bowl-- heat for about 1-2 minutes on high until the mixture is smooth. Use a rubber spatula to combine the butter and chocolate well; allow the mixture to cool slightly.
3. Once the chocolate has cooled down, whisk in the egg yolks one and a time. Whisk in the vanilla, espresso powder, salt, and white sugar. Sift in the cocoa powder before whisking it in as well. Use a rubber spatula and gently fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan; place the pan onto a baking sheet. Bake the cake in a 350 degree F. oven, on a middle rack, for 30-33 minutes. Transfer from the oven, allow it to cool for about minutes, and serve (the cake will naturally fall so it is best to serve as soon as possible). If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar, pastry cream, nuts, etc. over servings.

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