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Monday, April 25, 2011

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake


Most flourless cakes are heavy and dense, but this one is light and airy. Like a mousse, its fluffy texture comes from whipping the eggs and cream before folding them into the batter. There are some extra steps involved, but the results are truly worth the effort. It may be the best chocolate cake I've ever made.

And as far as desserts go, because it contains antioxidants and protein, it's free of grains, and it's sweetened with just a little bit of honey, this cake is one of the healthier choices. I served it with a simple and healthy raspberry sauce but it would also be good with freshly whipped cream.

This cake calls for a whole pound of dark chocolate. Be sure to use a good one, because the finished product will only be as good as its ingredients.

1 lb (16 oz) dark chocolate, 70% or darker
Butter to coat the baking dish
6 eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup espresso
1/4 cup rum
1 cup heavy cream

Place a medium glass or stainless steel mixing bowl and the whisk you'll use to whip the cream in the freezer to chill.

Warm the chocolate slowly in a covered double boiler over low heat.

While the chocolate melts, preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a 9" by 7" glass baking dish. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom, then coat the inside of the dish and both sides of the parchment paper with butter. Place the prepared baking dish inside a larger baking dish that you will use for a water bath. Set it aside and put some water on to boil.

Add the eggs, honey and sea salt to a large mixing bowl. Whip them for several minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until the mixture increases in volume and becomes silky, foamy, and thick enough to form ribbons when drizzled from a spoon. Take your time with this step, but don't over-beat the eggs either.

Once the chocolate has melted, whisk in the espresso and rum. Once smooth, pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and fold them together until almost combined.

In the chilled bowl from the freezer, using the chilled whisk, beat the cream until it increases in volume and forms soft peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the chocolate and egg mixture, until it is just combined. Do not fold the batter more than you need to.

Pour the cake batter into the buttered baking dish. Pour boiling hot water in the larger baking dish to create a water bath around the cake, but take care not to add any water to the batter. Transfer the ensemble to the oven.

Bake it for about 1 hour, until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and allow the chocolate cake to cool to room temperature inside the water bath.

Once cool, or still a little bit warm, use a knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the sides of the baking dish. Invert the baking dish onto a serving platter and remove the parchment paper. Cut the cake and serve it with a Simple Raspberry Sauce or freshly whipped cream.

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