Like all good meals, for our final lesson in #havenskitchencookbook Summer School, we end with dessert. Our Culinary Manager and in-house chocolatier, Zoe Maya Jones breaks down the method behind Ali’s favorite chocolate cake.
Our recipe for this week is a true test of your summer school skills: a Chocolate Cake to Commit to Memory. If you can master this, you can truly have your cake and eat it too. With ingredients you probably have in the pantry (or can find at any corner store) you can bake a decadent cake. Bonus: it’s gluten free!
Not many foods make me happier than chocolate cake. It’s there for me when I need a hug, when I am celebrating a special event, when I’m craving something rich and sweet, when I’m heartsick, when I’m stressed, when I’m home alone and watching a full season of the Great British Bake Off… chocolate cake is always there.
An important phase in taking my and chocolate cake’s relationship to the next level was memorizing this recipe. While the cake is perfect on its own, it’s easy to jazz up with fun garnishes or flavors that pair with your dinner party menu. Once you have the base recipe down, find ways to play with it and add your own personality to the recipe.
If you’re having a Mexican-themed supper, whisk in a teaspoon of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cayenne into the batter, throw a dollop of whipped cream on top at the end — et voila! — you have a Mexican hot chocolate spiced cake to match the occasion. If you’re looking for something more decadent, a topping of caramel (I like the whiskey sauce from the Gjelina cookbook) and walnuts reminds me of sticky toffee pudding. I recently had a few berries leftover from our CSA last week that weren’t looking quite up to snuff, but cooked down with a few teaspoons of sugar they turned into a tart, richly hued sauce that balanced well with the dark chocolate.
We find this recipe illustrates the idea of balancing structure and playfulness. There is some technique to the recipe: Since there’s no added leavening agent in the cake (such as baking powder), you must whip the eggs until they are very fluffy and aerated. The whipped eggs make the cake rise. Avoid stirring the chocolate too much after you add it to the melted butter. Stirring will cool the mixture too quickly and the butterfat will separate from the chocolate, making it look broken and messy. Let the chocolate melt in the warm butter and then whisk it together to combine. Keeping the fats emulsified will guarantee an even mixture when you fold the chocolate into the eggs.
Once you have this recipe memorized, you’ll be the favorite houseguest to any host. People might even start inviting you along on their long weekends away just to make it.
Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.