April 10, 2006

Gateau Reine De Saba

I found this recipe in the New York Times food section (2 Feb. '05) It doesn't contain any wheat flour. Instead, finely ground almonds takes the place of the flour and gives this cake a slightly gritty texture.

This was a very moist cake, made all the more so by the fruit sauce I poured over it. (I made this cake for Rob's birthday and he loves sauce.) The cake came with a recipe for a glaze which I didn't use. I'll include both the glaze recipe and my fruit sauce recipe here.

For the cake:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
A few drops almond extract (next time I'm putting in at least a teaspoonful)
2 tablespoons strong coffee
4 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar (i used sucanut)
1 3/4 cup finely ground almonds (i used almond meal from Trader Joe's)

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon butter

For the fruit sauce:
1 package frozen fruit (I used strawberries.)
1/2 cup agava nectar or other sweetener (honey, sugar, sucanut, etc. don't use molasses or sorghum. both would be too overpowering.)

1. Prepare cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and line the side wall with parchment paper. (I just buttered the sides instead of using parchment paper.) In a heavy bottomed pan, combine 12 tablespoons butter, 6 ounces chopped chocolate, almond extract and coffee. Melt over low heat, then transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

2. With an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar until thick and glossy. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup sugar until thick. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Add ground almonds and mix well. Whisk in a dollop of egg whites to lighten mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the rest of egg whites, keeping batter airy.

4. Scrape batter into pan and bake until cake is dry on top and a bit gooey in center, 30 to 40 minutes. (After 30 minutes of baking, check center of cake with a tester or toothpick. If center seems very wet, continue baking. ) Cool cake on a rack for 20 minutes, then remove side of pan. Allow to continue cooling. Top of cake may crack as it cools, but glaze will cover most cracking.

5. Prepare glaze (or skip this and go to the fruit sauce directions (#7): In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, the corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 4 ounces chopped chocolate, swirl pan to mix, and allow to stand until melted, about 3 minutes.

6. Whisk 1 tablespoon butter into icing, then pour evenly over cake. Use a spatula to ease icing out to edges of cake. Allow icing to cool and set before slicing.

7. Prepare fruit sauce: Dump one bag of frozen fruit into a pan with sweetener of choice. Thaw fruit over very low heat. When the fruit is soft enough, mash it up a bit a potato masher. Once the sauce is warm all the way through, pour a bit of it (1/2 cup or so) over the cake. Put remaining sauce into a gravy bowl or some other bowl that guests can use to add more sauce to their cake if they'd like.

Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies

I found this recipe in Jan./Feb. 2005's issue of Saveur magazine (an excellent magazine by the way. the recipes online simply do not do the sum total of the magazine any justice at all. saveur melds food, history, culture and recipes into a beautiful gastronomic/cultural delight. ... how's that? you're getting a magazine review and recipe in one. ).

i made an almond/chocolate cake for rob's birthday as well as these cookies and he said that of the two, these cookies were hands down the better dessert.

they've got a bit of a kick to them, though. these are not your grandma's chocolate cookies. though rob (and my brother-in-law as well) thought these cookies rocked, i personally didn't really like them.

1/2 cup flour (i, of course, used whole wheat.)
3/4 cup quality dutch-process unsweetened cocoa (i didn't have any dutched cocoa so i made the cookies with what i had on hand. they didn't hold their shape and maybe the cocoa is the reason why. but the taste was still right on.)
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2-3/4 teaspoon cayenne (see where the kick comes in?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (and another bit of a kick)
1 cup sugar (i used sucanut)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Whisk flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl and set aside. Put sugar, vanilla, and egg into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add butter and continue to beat on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes more. Using your fingers, work flour mixture into butter mixture until dough is just combined.

2. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 9" log. Wrap each log in parchment paper, twisting ends tightly to make a uniform cylinder. Freeze dough logs for at least 8 hours and as long as overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap dough and slice each log into rounds about 1/3" thick. Place rounds 1/2" apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. (I didn't use parchment paper and they didn't stick.) Bake cookies until slightly puffed and tiny cracks appear on the surface, about 8 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to let cool.