And then the cake came forth
Sundays are nice. My New York Times and I are very cozy on the couch.
Last night Kate and I made dinner and watched the boats sail in and out of Elliott Bay from her 18th-floor downtown apartment. It was an excellent reason to eat lots of bittersweet chocolate and Plugra, but you can rest assured that we ate our vegetables first.
We traipsed down to Pike Place Market just before closing and snatched up a bell pepper, red and gold tomatoes, a cucumber, two yams, and three sausages from Uli’s: spinach bratwurst, hot Italian, and lamb. Back home, we opened a bottle of white that happened to be lurking in the fridge, and, glasses in hand, put our bare feet up on the railing of her balcony to catch up for a while. There was much girly locker-room talk, and a pearl earring was nearly lost but wasn’t.
Then dinner threw itself together gracefully. The yams were sliced into long, flat fingers and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. The pepper and tomatoes were likewise dressed, then tossed onto the grill with the sausages, which sputtered at the heat and quickly began to glisten. The cucumber was sliced into rounds, tossed with vinaigrette and torn basil leaves from Kate’s thriving balcony garden. Meanwhile, the boats sailed on, and soon the cake came forth, trailing in its wake a bowlful of loosely whipped cream. We had two servings each, and poor Kate had to lie on the floor afterwards. It was really something.
And so, with no further ado, the recipe.
Gâteau au chocolat fondant de Nathalie, or Kate's Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Cake
Adapted from Je veux du chocolat!, by Trish Deseine
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter the parchment too.
Finely chop the chocolate (a serrated bread knife does an outstanding job of this) and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring regularly to combine. Add the sugar to the chocolate-butter mixture, stirring well, and set aside to cool for a few moments. The mixture will look gritty. Then add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition – the mixture will look slimy – and then add the flour. Mix until the batter no longer looks slimy but instead smooth, dark, and utterly gorgeous.
Pour batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackly-looking. (I usually set the timer for 20 minutes initially, and then I check the cake every two minutes thereafter until it’s done. At 20 minutes, it’s usually quite jiggly in the center. You’ll know it’s done when it jiggles only VERY slightly, if at all. It’s hard to overbake this cake.)
Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 15 minutes; then carefully turn the cake out of the pan and revert it, so that the crackly side is facing upward. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools.
Serve in wedges at room temperature with a loose dollop of ever-so-slightly sweetened whipped cream.
Note: This cake is even better on the second day, so consider making it the day before serving. And thank you to Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini, whose mention of a clementine cake in Trish Deseine’s Mes petits plats préférés led to my stumbling upon Je veux du chocolat! in the bookstore one day.