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With Valentine’s Day upon us, thoughts go to spoiling your sweetheart with all sorts of chocolate concoctions.
Candy shops are bursting with pink and red heart-shaped boxed bonbons. Chocolate kisses are wrapped in pink and red foil. Even Smarties have joined the V-Day party. Such displays of confection (and affection) are so very welcome during these hard-fought days of winter. It’s heartwarming to feel a little romance swirling around with the wind-chill in the air. Whether you are in (or out) of love this Valentine’s Day, you deserve chocolate, for chocolate is the nectar of the gods and goddesses.
If you really want to knock your lover’s socks off, I highly recommend baking something from scratch. It’s easy to line up at the counter and pick out something sweet for your sweetie, but baking at home takes skill, time, and effort — all of which will not go unnoticed by your amour.
A good love story is bursting with chemistry; so is a good cake. This flourless number is a delicious example of just how eggs work their magic in baked goods. There is nothing else to make this chocolate cake rise except for the eggs. Usually there is baking soda or powder stirred into flour and ta-da, you have cake. But, in this case none of those ingredients exist. Instead, half a dozen eggs and granulated sugar are beaten together into a thick, creamy ribbon. Then the glorious combination of melted dark chocolate and butter is carefully folded in.
That’s it for the batter. It bakes to lofty heights in a springform pan, but once removed, it will gradually collapse into a crater, complete with characteristic cracks. This is normal, and it’s a good thing. Fight all the urges to pry apart the ring of the pan and cut off a slice while it is warm. Don’t do it. The cake will tear apart very easily.
Let it cool completely — heck, even overnight if you can handle it — then slice a wedge for you and your lover. There is a tantalizing richness here; the cake almost melts in your mouth. You have butter and sugar to thank for that. I love how it’s made of simple ingredients and yet tastes anything but simple. You can prepare the cake the day ahead, or at least several hours before you want to serve it, allowing for sufficient cooling time.
While you don’t have to be eating gluten-free to enjoy a wedge of this chocolate heaven, it will get you ample bonus points when serving it to someone who does.
If you’re planning to stay in and cook dinner with your loved one, this dessert is perfectly dreamy and really the stuff for wilful wooing. Serve with a healthy dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries; the stacks of dishes can wait until the morning.
If you’re into the whole dessert-for-breakfast thing, this chocolate concoction is quite agreeable with good, strong coffee. And yes, there is fat and sugar in the cake, but Valentine’s is the one day to push the boat out. Plus, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, so there’s that.
Bake this delicious cake for someone you love the bones off of, and who thinks you are the bee’s knees. In the end, it’s all about the quality of the company you keep, no matter what day of the year it is. And if you are a member of Clan Singleton, remember that calories don’t count on Feb. 14.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
12 oz (340 g) dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter, cubed
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Garnish: unsweetened cocoa powder, whipped cream, fresh berries
1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pan.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Be careful not to burn. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and salt at medium-high speed until light and thickened, about six to eight minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Fold in the melted chocolate by hand until the batter is combined. Pour into the prepared pan.
4. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean — about one hour and 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Run a sharp paring knife around the cake, then carefully remove the ring from the pan. The cake slices easier if it is chilled for at least an hour. Garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder. Slice with a hot knife, and serve topped with whipped cream and berries.
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