Aug 7, 2007

Molly Wizenberg’s Chocolate Fondant Cake

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Sometimes it’s hard to be away from my mom. I’ve gotten used to the distance over the past four-plus years I’ve been in LA and she’s been back home in Chicagoland, and we talk on the phone all the time, but every once in a while I will experience something so great that I know she would love, but there’s no way I can possibly communicate such splendor over the phone. The following cake is one of those things. My mom is known for the dramatic quote, “If it’s not chocolate, it’s just not worth it!”. And I just know she would deem this dessert So Worth It.

Adapted from a recipe from the ever-inspiring Molly Wizenberg from Orangette, this cake really isn’t like a cake at all, it’s some kind of glorious, otherworldy thing teetering on the edge of awesomely underdone brownie and baked pudding. I opted to add half a teaspoon of fleur de sel to the batter for a few reasons: first, I just got a new canister of it and am looking for excuses to scatter it into/onto anything in my path; second, I am really on a “sweet and salty” kick lately; and third, there is nothing like a good salt to take a good chocolate to the next level.

When you’re dealing with a recipe that has so few ingredients like this one, really go for it. Buy a complex dark or bittersweet chocolate you’re really passionate about. If you don’t know what kind of chocolate you’re passionate about, buy a dozen different bars, have a few friends over and take notes. And invite me and we’ll all learn together, an open exchange over chocolate. Life is too short to not know such things about oneself.

Great butter is also key in this recipe. Go for the European-style butter, which is higher in butterfat than our chintzy American butter. And it’s not really more expensive than the brand you usually buy, I promise. This was my first experience with Plugra and honestly, people, I don’t think I can spend my pennies on Land O’ Lakes again. Round out the whole thing with some granulated sugar, five fresh eggs and a nearly-forgettable-but-crucial tablespoon of flour and you’ve got yourself something that only be described as So Worth It.

Chocolate Fondant Cake
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg

7 ounces of your favorite dark or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
7 ounces unsalted European-style butter (such as Plugra), melted and cooled
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or other salt
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a springform pan for easier releasing and serving, or use an 8-inch cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter the parchment.

Whisk together the melted chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and fleur de sel to the chocolate mixture, stirring well to combine. Add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition, and then add the flour. Mix until perfectly smooth.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the edges just begin to pull away from the pan and the center of the cake looks only slightly jiggly, if at all. Start checking the cake for doneness after about 22 minutes. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then carefully remove the springform ring or turn the cake out of the pan and turn it right side up to cool the rest of the way. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools, it is very unassuming that way.

Serve this room temperature with whipped cream and it will be the absolute living end. It actually tastes even better as it sits–I added some fresh raspberries the second day and, oh, well, you can just imagine.

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