I haven't been around much lately, have I? An occasional post here and there. I've basically taken a break... before I take a break (a.k.a. vacation). Spring projects, indoors and out, have been keeping me busy. And after several nights of near-freezing temperatures, I can finally return to my vegetable garden. Seeds for cool-weather crops -- lettuces, peas, and radishes -- have already been sown. I am somewhat confident that the cold weather is now behind us (... actually, no,not so confident at all) and can finish up with everything else that was held back to avoid the recurring cold snaps.
Good news is... the first rhubarb tarts have been made. The asparagus that were planted last year survived the brutal winter and have given us several spears. And a birthday cake was made yesterday for yet another birthday. Yes... I am now 61. You heard me... 61. How can that be?... But back to important things, like the cake. I worked with what I had in my kitchen -- chocolate and espresso. It's the kind of cake I love. Dense chocolate with a crispy exterior. I usually serve slices of a cake like this in a pool of Crème Anglaise, but this time settled on a Very Salty Caramel Sauce. It was definitely the way to go. Eight of us devoured a cake that should have served many more.
I am not making any promises for additional Passions to Pastry posts in the next few weeks. The garden will consume much of my time, and on June 1, I will be off to the south of France; a highly-anticipated trip with Antique-of-the-Week Susan and my childhood friend, Renate. I am certain I will return inspired from all I have seen and tasted.
the cake is an adapted recipe from Martha Stewart
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the cake pan
• 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia d'Oro
• 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• whipped heavy cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with a parchment round; butter parchment and sides of pan. Melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth, in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water or in 15 second intervals in a microwave oven.
2. Beat together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed, about 3 minutes; mixture should be thick and pale. Add espresso powder and salt; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and melted-chocolate mixture; beat 1 minute longer.
3. In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase speed to high; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Stir about 1/2 cup into the chocolate mixture to lighten, then fold remaining egg whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Transfer batter to pan and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan; transfer cake to a serving plate. Drizzle slices with Very Salty Caramel Sauce (recipe below) before serving. Top with a dollop of whipped, heavy cream.
very SALTY CARAMEL SAUCE
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Remove from the heat and add the Fleur de Sel, vanilla, and heavy cream. Stir again with the whisk.
2. The Very Salty Caramel Sauce can be made ahead and kept refrigerated in a jar until needed. Reheat gently on the stove top or in a microwave.
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