The Big Question

Who loves chocolate?

Two molinillos for Mexican hot chocolate - a new one from Yiselle, an antique one from Bunny.
If your answer is, 'I do!', keep reading.

A hot chocolate pot from Heather
If your answer is, 'Someone I love loves chocolate!' - keep reading and make them this cake.

A large pan for a big chocolate bar - a gift from Michael.
If your answer is, 'I don't, and neither does anyone I know," here are my thoughts: First, we chocolate lovers thank you for leaving more for us and, second, we think you are hanging with the wrong crowd.

A beautiful German chocolate pot from Sue.
As many of you know, I begin each day - rain or shine, cold or hot - with a big bowl of steaming cocoa. It is filling, low fat (because I make it with nonfat milk), and always comforting.

An antique advertisement from Michael.
You probably also know that I enjoy chocolate desserts - remember this Mendiant Tart? Or these little Chocolate Soufflés? Or perhaps this Cœur à la Crème au Chocolat? Or even these simple mini Chocolate Tarts?

Two chocolate molds from Michael, and one from Lois.
Because of this love, I also have a fun collection of chocolate-related paraphernalia. And since today's recipe for Chocolate Truffle Cake is very simple (and gluten-free), with very few ingredients and steps to photograph, I thought I would share a few shots of my favorite things...

I used to consider myself a collector of cocoas. At one time, I had 27 different cocoas from around the world - from places like Morocco, Kenya, Bolivia, and Japan -- as well as from places one would expect: the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, and Italy.

Droste. Van Houten. Perugina. Ghiradelli. Poulain. Valhrona. Scharffenberger. Bensdorp. Of these, Bensdorp used to be my favorite, but then I discovered Pernigotti Italian cocoa and I ‘ve never looked back. It is a rich, dark, reddish brown, and full-flavored, with a hint of vanilla. I originally purchased it from Williams-Sonoma, but now I buy it by the kilo from (Does this require a 12-step program?)

A chocolat drinking bowl from Donna and Pat.
For eating and fine baking, my favorite chocolate will always be Byrne & Carlson. I met Ellen Byrne and Chris Carlson just after they opened their chocolate shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1999. Aside from our mutual interest in chocolate, we discovered that Mark and I had a lot in common with them - museum work, gardening, cooking, travel, and more. If never their largest customer, I became one of their most ardent ones.

No matter what I am baking, Byrne & Carlson have the perfect chocolate for me, ranging from 54% to 85% cacao. For today's cake, I used their Madagascar 64, with its subtle orange overtone, because of its balance of cocoa and milk solids. I find that if you use chocolate that is even a little darker, the cake turns out dry and has an almost unpleasant texture on the tongue.

Aside from their bars, they make all sorts of individual chocolates (my favorite is their 'muscadine' - it is so creamy and buttery!) and decorative bars (mendiant bars, pansy bars, and nut bars). They do ship, and they put a great deal of love and care into their packaging. If, like me, you live someplace really hot, they will want to wait and ship when the weather is cooler. Definitely check out their website: Byrne & Carlson.

In the meantime, you should make this cake for yourself. I wasn't kidding when I said it was simple - three ingredients (and a pinch of salt)! Chocolate, butter, and eggs. Always use the best butter and eggs to go with the best chocolate - it will make a difference in your cake, both in flavor and texture.

And don't forget to share it with someone you love!

~ David

Chocolate Truffle Cake

1 pound best-quality chocolate, between 55-65% cacao

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch sea salt
5 large eggs, room temperature
whipped cream for serving, optional

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan.

In a large metal bowl set over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in a pinch of salt. Let cool.

Separate eggs putting the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer (or other large mixing bowl) and the yolks into a small bowl. Stir the yolks to blend, them stir into the cooled chocolate.

Beat the whites with the whisk attachment (or hand-held mixer) until stiff. Add a third of the beaten whites to the chocolate and stir to lighten the batter. Gently fold on remaining white and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven - the center should be jiggly. Let cool 10 minutes. The sides should have shrunk from the edges a bit. Now is a good time to run a thin-bladed knife or spatula around the edges to loosen. Let cool completely in pan.

Remove the outer ring from the springform pan, and slice into small wedges. Serve with a small dollop of whipped cream and crystallized flowers, if desired.
You can learn how to crystallize flowers HERE.

Serves 12. 


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