Whew! It’s been a whirlwind week of travel for me—which is why this post is a little late in coming!
Last week, I told you about a dinner party I held at which each course of the meal corresponded to a course I took from a local shop! We did a cheese course and a fabulous gnocchi with asparagus and mushroom cream sauce, and now it’s time for dessert.
The gorgeous ladies of Piece, Love & Chocolate in Boulder offer up a ton of different classes in their adorable Pearl Street shop, ranging from chocolate and beer or wine pairings to hands-on cooking classes. For the latter, I was delighted to be able to attend Chocolate Lab 101, which is all about mechanical leavening with egg whites. In plain English that means flourless chocolate cakes and chocolate souffles! Oh my.
Because I was already going to be cooking the gnocchi on demand during the party, I decided to skip the souffle. (And also because my souffle came out quite a bit more like pudding in the class…) But the flourless chocolate cake we got to make in class is the perfect dessert for a dinner party because it’s at its best made the day before!
The lovely ladies had a few key tips for working with eggs and specifically egg whites:
- Separate your eggs when they are cold—it works better! Genny Featherston, the Cocoa Coordinator at PL&C suggests cracking the whole egg into a bowl and then scooping out the yolk from the white, especially when you have a lot of eggs to separate.
- Let your eggs come to room temperature before using; egg whites will whip up faster and more uniformly; egg yolks emulsify more easily into liquids.
- Ensure your mixing bowl is impeccably clean by wiping it with a cloth dampened with vinegar. Any fat in the bowl can prevent your whites from whipping up properly, and the acid in the vinegar will actually help stabilize them.
- Adding a small amount of sugar from the recipe to the whites as you whip them will help stabilize the foam. Add it in two stages: half at the beginning and the remainder when soft peaks start to form.
- Start whipping whites at medium speed for one minute, then take it up to full speed!
- 10 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 10 T butter, cut into pieces
- 6 eggs, separated
- ¾ C sugar, divided
- 1 T vanilla
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Lightly grease an 8″x3″ round cake pan and line with plastic wrap.
- Make a double boiler with a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, and a bowl large enough to fit over the pot without touching the water. Gently heat together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until melted.
- Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to come to room temperature. Whip with whip attachment adding about 2 T of sugar, gradually, just until the beater starts to leave a trail in the whites.
- In a separate bowl, mix the remaining sugar and egg yolks together.
- Add the chocolate slowly to the egg yolks mixture. Add vanilla.
- “Sacrificed” approximately ¼ of the egg whites by stirring them into the chocolate mixture until combined.
- Pour chocolate mixture over remaining whites and fold gently until just barely combined. (Streaks are OK!)
- Gently pour into prepared pan and place pan into a larger roasting pan. Put both pans into the oven and then add about an inch of warm water.
- Bake for one hour until uniformly jiggly; you do not want the cake to be entirely set.
- Allow the cake to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
- Remove from the pan and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Garnish with powdered sugar and berries if desired.