Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baking for Passover

No, I'm not Jewish - despite the fact that the Ben Goodnick who pops up in a Google search is a rabbi -- but I am intrigued by Kosher dietary laws, and I do enjoy a good flourless chocolate cake. What follows are two recipes from the March 24th edition of the Boston Globe. The first is dense and moist -- sinful and dark. The second is light and nutty -- perhaps fleeting and ethereal. Both are delicious, and both are suitable for either Passover or satisfying the sweet tooth of gluten-free friends!

For the Seder, it’s icing on the cake

Many Passover hosts have spent years searching for the perfect flourless chocolate cake. When the holiday begins next Monday night with the first Seder, some good bakers will have found their ultimate holiday confection. If not, keep reading.

Unlike traditional flourless chocolate cakes, which are souffle-like and delicate, this cake is dense and moist. It’s so rich that a sliver will suffice. Serve it at room temperature so the glaze and the interior meld into one. This is actually a classic French torte and it relies heavily on butter. If you cannot serve a cake made with dairy products for dietary reasons, substitute margarine for butter, tablespoon for tablespoon, and omit the salt.

The technique is similar to making a giant brownie. You need only a bowl and a large whisk, and a double boiler (or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan). Bake the cake in a water bath to slowly bring the eggs up to temperature. Rotating and removing the roasting pan from the oven can be tricky procedure. Take your time and make sure it’s secure in your hands. Once the cake has been cooled and inverted onto a wire rack, you can glaze it.

The temperature of the glaze should not be hot to the touch nor should it be stiff. Cool glaze will act more like an icing. Too warm and it will run quickly off the sides of the cake. But if this happens, don’t worry. Scrape the glaze back into a bowl, cool for a few minutes more, and pour again. Chill the finished cake in the refrigerator only until the glaze sets. Then, immediately remove it from the rack and transfer to a platter. Watch the crowd gather round.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake


Butter (for the pan)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
3/4 cup brewed strong coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 eggs plus 2 extra yolks
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted onto waxed paper
Pinch of salt

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch layer cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit in, and butter the paper. Have on hand a roasting pan.

2. In the top of a double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Stir in the coffee and vanilla. Remove the top of the double boiler and wipe the bottom.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, extra yolks, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture. Whisk in cocoa powder and salt.

4. Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Set the cake pan in the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven. Pour enough warm tap water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the outside of the cake pan.

5. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, rotating from front to back halfway through baking, or until the cake is set. Do not let it cook until the top is hard or the cake may dry out.

6. Remove the cake pan from the water bath and leave to cool; refrigerate overnight.


9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up

1. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Carefully place the pan in a shallow bowl of hot water (hold the pan so the cake doesn’t get wet). Warm the cake for 2 minutes. Wipe the bottom of the pan. Invert it onto a wire rack. Lift off and discard the parchment paper. If the cake does not release, place the pan in the water for another minute and repeat.

2. Set the cake and the wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate while you prepare the glaze.

3. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler and wipe the bottom. Cool the glaze for 5 minutes.

4. Pour the glaze over the cake. With an offset or rubber spatula, smooth any excess glaze over the cake.

5. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until the glaze sets. Using a metal spatula, loosen the edges of the cake from the wire rack. Transfer to a serving platter. Use a knife dipped in hot water and dried to cut even slices.

Go to the Globe site to see the full recipe for the Italian Chocolate-Almond Torte. (Pictured below.)

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