by Stephanie Zonis
For Passover, wheat-free diets,
and/or dedicated lovers of chocolate truffles
10 to 12 servings
This is an unassuming-looking, smallish loaf that proves you shouldn't judge desserts by appearances. It is very dense and smooth, chocolate in the extreme, and possessed of a beautiful semisweet/bittersweet flavor—rather like a cross between an oversized truffle and a chocolate paté. Please make a point to serve this with lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme anglaise (flavored with a bit of the same liqueur used in the loaf, perhaps); you absolutely need an accompaniment to cut through the chocolatey richness. This is chilled in the pan after baking, then turned out. Once chilled, it will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to one week; you can also freeze it (defrost, still in wrappings, in the refrigerator). Because it is made ahead and not difficult to do, it's an ideal dessert for company—if your guests are confirmed chocolate lovers!
This is made with a hand-held electric mixer. Do not overbeat the batter; beat it just enough (at low speed) to incorporate the ingredients. It shouldn't be beaten until light and airy, though air bubbles will be present. You MUST use the best chocolate you can find here, and of course semisweet or bittersweet will work equally well. Also, it is important to use unsalted butter for this dessert, and to make sure the butter is very soft (but not melted) before incorporating it. You can substitute dark rum or coffee liqueur for the orange liqueur, if you prefer. If you'd like to use a black raspberry liqueur, I'd try half the amount, as it is very strong.
I have consulted several sources, and, as far as I can tell, this would be a suitable dessert for Passover. I think you'd have to omit the liqueur, but you can substitute an equal amount of orange juice (if it's freshly-squeezed, make sure to strain it before measuring).
10 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Few grains salt
1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
5 eggs, graded "large"
2 Tbsp. orange liqueur
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
OR creme anglaise
Fresh mint leaves and/or
fresh raspberries and/or chocolate shavings
You will need an 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 loaf pan, 2-1/2 inches tall, for this recipe. You'll also need a larger, shallower pan (I use one that is 13 by 9 by 2 inches), and enough simmering water to fill the larger pan to a depth of 1 inch; if this larger pan is aluminum, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon cream of tartar into the bottom to keep it from discoloring during baking. Adjust oven rack so it is one-third up from the oven bottom; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the inside of loaf pan completely with regular-weight aluminum foil, leaving about 1 inch of overhang on all sides. (I line the bottom and the long sides with one piece, then cut pieces for each short end. To control the gaps where the foil pieces overlap, I use a bit of vegetable shortening between the overlapping pieces so they'll stick together; wipe off any excess.) Fold the overhang back over the outer edges of the pan, and make sure the foil lining of the pan is smoothed out as much as possible. You'll also need a foil cover for the pan with about 1 inch of excess foil on all sides. Set prepared pan and cover aside.
Place finely chopped chocolate into large heatproof bowl; set aside near stovetop. In small, tightly-covered pot, bring water to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and remove pot cover; add sugar and salt to water. Stir well to dissolve sugar. When sugar is dissolved, increase heat to medium and allow mixture to come to a boil. When it boils, remove from heat and pour over chocolate.
Allow chocolate mixture to stand for a minute or two. With hand-held electric mixer at lowest speed, beat to mix (chocolate should be melted, but mixture will be thin and may not look smooth at this point—OK). Gradually add softened butter, beating at lowest speed after each addition to incorporate. Scrape bowl and beater(s) thoroughly with rubber spatula. When all butter has been incorporated, add eggs, one at a time, beating at lowest speed after each addition until incorporated. Batter will thicken somewhat as butter and eggs are added. Finally, mix in liqueur at lowest speed.
Turn batter into lined loaf pan and cover with foil cover, folding down overhang on outsides of pan. Place larger, shallower pan on rack of preheated oven, and add enough simmering water to just cover the bottom. Place the loaf pan into the water, and carefully add more water to come about 1 inch up the sides of the loaf pan (I measure; too much water will slow the baking time). Close oven door.
Bake 20 minutes. Check level of water in larger, shallower pan; if you need to add more to maintain the 1 inch depth, do it now. Remove foil cover from loaf pan, then slide everything back into the oven (be careful not to get any of the baking water into the loaf pan!). Bake 35 minutes longer. When done, the edges will be slightly risen and may have a few cracks, but the center will still seem uncooked—OK. Remove loaf pan to cooling rack.
Allow pan to stand at room temperature for 40 minutes to 1 hour. During this time, any risen edges will sink back to their original level, the center may sink very slightly, and the cake will probably start to pull away from the pan's foil lining. A slightly uneven top surface is not a problem.
Chill the cake uncovered, still in the pan, for 3 to 4 hours, until completely cold. To turn out, loosen any foil overhang from sides of pan. You'll need a serving plate larger than 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches, and I like to use a rectangular plate here. Place the serving plate top side down over the top of the chilled cake, then grasp both loaf pan and platter in both hands and invert. Remove the loaf pan, then gently peel off the foil (it should come off easily). Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, then return it to the refrigerator.
To cut this, you'll need a large, sharp, straight-edged knife. Place the dessert near a sink and unwrap it. Run the knife blade under hot water, then shake off. Make slices about 1/2 inch thick; the slices will cling to the knife, and you'll have to ease them onto serving plates by running a toothpick between the slice and the knife blade. Make sure you run the knife blade under hot water and shake it off before cutting each slice; you'll need one or two slices per serving (if you use two slices per serving, you can cut them a bit thinner; overlap the slices slightly at one end for presentation). Cover the serving plates loosely with plastic wrap so the slices won't dry out, then let the cut slices stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Just before serving, place a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream to the side of each serving, or spoon some creme anglaise onto the plate surrounding the dessert. Garnish with mint leaves and/or raspberries and/or chocolate shavings.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created April 2000
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