What I've got for you on this lovely September evening is just this: one of the best things to have ever have come out of my kitchen. Twice. It's definitely in my Top 5 anyway. Resulting in indecipherable phrases from mouthfuls of cake such as, "ohmgodethssgddd" - and then, from sublimely satisfied bridal shower guests post-consumption, as they stare at their empty plates all dreamy-eyed and spent, "WHERE DID YOU GET THIS?" And it's a good thing they don't mean the recipe, because I honestly don't know; it's something I copied from some magazine or cookbook or other about eight years ago, a preliminary step in my effort to convince someone to marry me. (It worked.) Anyway, no, my guests mean where did I BUY this insanely rich and perfect dessert. Because it is so insanely rich and perfect that one would understandably expect it to have been made by a professional baker. And, frankly, I take that as an enormous compliment. It's bakery-worthy.
Have I ever mentioned that I love bakeries?
I love bakeries.
LOVE LOVE LOVE them.
Except for that one bakery across from Disneyland, near our hotel, that my husband spotted on a walk during our visit in July and then subsequently described to me with unbridled enthusiasm, because, duh, it was a bakery, and we were on vacation, and he was totally going to get lucky that night because - woo-hoo! - he just fulfilled the first and most important to-do item on my itinerary: find bakery. ... But the bakery was Coco's. My husband didn't grow up in California. He doesn't know what Coco's is.* We learned about anticlimax that day.
But Absolutely To Die For Flourless Chocolate Cake is the OPPOSITE of anticlimax. It's... well... I'm not going to get naughty on you, I'm just going to tell you it's all kinds of things we don't talk about in polite company.
And it goes exceedingly well with good quality port. And raspberries. And ice cream.
Absolutely To Die For Flourless Chocolate Cake
Yield: 1 10" cake; 10-12 servings
Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan
6.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes, softened
6 large eggs, at room temp
Powdered sugar, for dusting
NOTES: (1) There are several important, precise steps, but none is difficult. Just keep at it. (2) Read through the recipe and make sure you have all the necessary equipment. (3) Take the recipe seriously, e.g. heavy duty foil means HEAVY DUTY FOIL. (4) Don't use a cheap springform pan. It won't be worth it. If water gets in, you will have wasted a lot of beautiful ingredients and you will not reap the benefits of your hard, precise work.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tightly wrap outside of a 10" springform pan with three sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, cut into an appropriately sized circle. Coat pan and parchment paper with butter, shortening, or nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine both chocolates in a large metal bowl. Bring a saucepan of water to simmer, and set bowl of chocolate on top. (You could also use a double boiler, if you have one.) Stir just until melted. Remove from over water.
3. Bring 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water to boil in saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk hot syrup into melted chocolate (mixture may look curdled). Add butter; whisk to blend.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until well blended, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture into warm chocolate mixture (which will have cooled slightly, so no need to worry about scrambled eggs in your cake).
5. Transfer batter to prepared springform pan. Batter will come halfway up sides of pan. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan so that it comes one inch up the sides of the cake pan.
6. Bake cake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Remove cake pan from water. Carefully remove foil. Cool completely on wire rack.
7. Gently cut around cake sides to loosen. Remove outer ring of pan. Transfer cake to platter. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
8. Poor yourself a generous mini-glass of port.
9. Lick those lips. But I didn't really have to tell you to do that, did I?
*Minnesotans: Coco's is a big pie restaurant that could be the love child of Denny's and Marie Calendar's. Its redheaded stepbrother might be Baker's Square. It's not the kind of bakery I'm on the hunt for on vacations.