"Because it's so perfectly dark." That's what I said when a friend of mine asked me why I liked The Maltese Falcon. And I stand by that: it is dark. And perfect. And funny in spots. And tragic, and confused. You know. Like a metaphor for something.
This cake is also perfectly dark. Technically, it's what is called "Flourless chocolate cake", which is an accurate if inadequate description. I mean, this cake is just wonderful. Why lead with what's not in it? It's not as though you miss the flour: leaving it out just makes more room for the chocolate flavor.
This cake is also stunningly easy to make. I have never had it turn out less than perfect. It is elegant enough for a party, and simple enough for a Tuesday. The only thing it is not, is quick. Not that it takes long to make, but you have to chill it overnight before serving.
This cake, if left ungarnished, is also perfectly plain-looking. This is not a problem in person (trust me, your friends and family are not going to object), but for blog purposes, it took me several tries to adequately disguise its fundamental resemblance to a hockey puck.
Flourless chocolate cakes vary in consistency. Some are almost like a slab of fudge, and should be served in very small portions indeed. This one has a more cake-like texture with a very tender crumb and intense chocolate flavor. It's topped with a layer of raspberry jam and covered in dark chocolate ganache.
I find it best to store this cake in the refrigerator, but allow the slices to come up to room temperature before serving. If you store it at room temperature, the jam starts to ooze out, and if you serve it straight from the fridge, the ganache is a little stiff. But I have to admit: when there are leftovers of this in the refrigerator and I'm having a chocolate craving and it's late at night and no one is watching ... I might not wait very long for it to warm up. Maybe about as long as it takes to walk back to the couch.
I like this cake best with a very smooth jam layer. Smuckers Seedless Red Raspberry Jam is my favorite, and the Seedless Blackberry Jam is very good too.
This cake is a half-size version of "Flourless Bittersweet Cake with Milk Chocolate Drizzle" from Chocolate Passion, a cookbook published by Chocolatier magazine. It's a great cookbook: the gorgeous photography is coffee-table worthy, and everything I've made from it has turned out well. I admit there are a lot of recipes I haven't tried, but that's just a reflection of my limited patience. "Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Mice" are really cute, but the directions for making them run to six pages! "Raspberry Chocolate Jewels" are only four pages long, but require a myriad of specialized equipment I don't have ... and it takes almost a page to tell you how to unmold the jewels, including how to know when to throw out the results and start over. That kind of thing is fun to read, and it makes you appreciate really good chocolates made by someone else.
Nevertheless, I stand by my original claim: this cake is perfectly easy, perfectly dark, and perfectly, decandently, delicious. Thank you, Chocolatier.