Proven Fact: Sometimes, you just need a piece of chocolate cake to power you through work or school or your kid’s soccer practice.
And that’s where this cake comes in. It really is ingenious – you make a chocolate mousse as if you were going to serve it cold, in the traditional fashion, only to bake it, twice. What emerges from the oven is a cracked, sunken, insanely chocolatey beauty that begs to be eaten with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and coffee.
I hesitate to say that it is easier than your typical chocolate cake if for only the reason that you have to whip egg whites, and it is crucial that they are whipped to their full volume. Otherwise, it has fewer ingredients than your standard chocolate cake, is almost a one bowl recipe, and requires no frosting.
When I found this recipe, I was paging through Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. It immediately struck me as very intriguing – who would have thought of baking a chocolate mousse, twice? (well, it turns out, Michel Rostang).
This is the kind of cake you don’t tell your kids (or, cough, sisters) you made, take up to your room, and daintily eat the entire thing in your pajamas, pretending to forget about that diet thing you were going to do. I promise it’ll make your Tuesday night even better.
Michel Rostang’s Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake
1. This cake can be served with ice cream or softly whipped cream, but please, please, make it good quality. I served mine with homemade ice cream, mostly because I had heavy cream and time. You will slightly destroy the greatness of the cake if you top if with Cool Whip (shudder), and ditto with the Reddiwhip.
2. It is crucial to this recipe that you whip the egg whites to their full volume.
3. You can serve the cake warm after it’s second baking– Simply allow it to cool enough that you can handle it, about 5 minutes, before transferring it to plate.
4. This cake is flourless and therefore gluten free.
5. Make this cake the day you plan to serve it; I have found that making it too far in advance causes the coffee flavor “bloom” and become very prevalent, so much that the cake is awfully bitter and the chocolate flavor is barely pronounced.
6. It is really important that you soften your butter for this recipe. If you don’t it will take forever to melt into the chocolate.
7. The size of your springform pan is important in this recipe; it should be pretty close to 9 inches. If yours is 8 inches, multiply all the quantities in this recipe by 2/3 and then proceed as normal.
8. Use a baking sheet that has not been warped for this recipe (all of mine were a little but warped once I studied them – they just receive a lot of love, ok?). If you don’t, a little batter will probably leak out the bottom and burn, making it smell like the cake is burning and freak you out.
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup strong coffee
10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 pinches salt
6 large eggs, separated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a non-warped baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter 9 inch springform ring and set it on the parchment (you won’t use the base in this recipe).
In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occassionally. Whisk the coffee into the chocolate, and once the mixture is smooth, take the bowl off the heat. Add the butter a tablespoon at a time until it has all melted into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the sugar and the salt. Whisk the egg yolks into the batter, one at a time.
In a very clean large bowl, whip the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. It is really important that you whip the egg whites to your full volume. Gently whisk 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Then, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Pour a generous 1/3 of the batter into the springform ring. Cover the rest of the mousse and put it in the refrigerator. Bake the chocolate mousse in the springform ring until it is puffed, 15 minutes. Cool on a rack until it is cool enough to handle, at which point you can put it in the fridge. The baked mousse needs to chill in the fridge for atleast an hour before you proceed with the recipe. Do not turn the oven off.
Scrape the rest of the mousse on top of the baked mousse. Bake the entire mousse cake until it is puffed dry, and cracked, about 30 minutes. Take it out and allow it to cool on a rack, at which point the center will sink. Once it is room temperature, chill it in the fridge for atleast 4 hours.
To serve: run a knife around the sides of the pan and release the springform sides. Transfer to a serving plate. Top with whipped cream or serve with ice cream.