I couldn’t drum up any Chinese desserts for my Valentine’s Day dinner, so I decided to stick with my go-to dessert. The decision was rather easy as my fiance is a serious chocoholic, and I have quite a bit of experience in making this little number. During my last quarter of culinary school, I was in the class, where students ran the lunch service at The Art Institute’s restaurant. I can see why people would be hesitant, amateur 101 cooking, but the food was excellent. Our head chef was a stickler for perfection and everything was executed flawlessly. If it wasn’t, into the garbage it went! Sometimes even the plate just for dramatics. For ten weeks, students would rotate around to each of the various kitchen stations to learn what it was like to work on the line. I wasn’t thrilled. By this point in my culinary education, I had already come to the conclusion that I was not going to start my career in the late-night restaurant sphere. I knew I wanted to be a baker.
I quietly pulled my teacher aside during the first class and asked (very nicely) if I could stay at the dessert station for the entire quarter. We had to take a class vote on it, and turns out, culinary students hate baking. Such luck! Other students were actually thanking me for taking away one week of baking for them! I stayed after class to get my instructions for making the dessert menu. Turns out, there was a catch. I had to make a dessert menu with 5 items on it: one chocolate, one creamy, one hot, one fruit, and one cookie option for our customers. Ok! That’s fun! And it was fun, for about five seconds, until Chef said that “the desserts had to be different every week”. Every week?! All five desserts? Yep. So that is…. 50 desserts in 10 weeks?!
After two weeks of struggle street, I decided I needed a better game plan. I quickly fell in love with this Death by Chocolate Cake recipe, and it became my go-to chocolate dessert. Chocolate pairs well with many flavors, and it was easy to make a number of variations with this recipe. I did this about 6 of the 10 weeks in class. My favorite was the Cointreau Chocolate Torte with an infusion of orange liqueur. The next week, Mocha Delight with a few shots of espresso and chocolate covered coffee beans. During warmer weather, it was Gateaux Framboise with raspberry liqueur and white chocolate filled raspberries. The options with this cake are endless and I exploited as many as I could think of. How did I get away with it? When I say “death by chocolate”, I mean that one could die from pure ecstasy eating this cake. It is so decadent, so rich, and so freaking delicious that people actually made audible noise in the restaurant after eating it. If it was that successful for me, think of what it can do for you this Valentine’s Day. 😉
Makes: 10 – 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes
Special Equipment: This is a weighted recipe. You will need a kitchen scale.
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
8 oz butter
10 oz eggs
10 oz sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
zest of 1 large orange*
2 tbs Cointreau liqueur*
2 oz flour
candied orange zest
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan on the bottom and sides.
- Heat the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Continue to heat and stir until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, orange zest, and Cointreau to the bowl. Whisk to combine.
- After the chocolate has cooled slightly, add it to the egg mixture by whisking it into the bowl in a steady stream. Add the flour in the same way and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the spring form pan and bang it lightly on the counter to pop any air bubbles. Use a spatula to create an even layer on the top.
- Bake in the oven for roughly 30 minutes. You want the cake to be solid in the center, but not overcooked! I start checking it around 20 minutes, just to be sure. Remove from the oven after baking and let it cool completely. Remove the outside ring on the pan to serve.
- This cake is very, very decadent! I think it needs a garnish or two to cut some of the richness. Give it a sprinkle of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, and or some fresh berries for the perfect plate.
* Orange infused chocolate is my favorite combination. If you’d rather have another flavor, like some I listed above, substitute 1 tsp extract and 2 tbs liqueur of that flavor. For example: a raspberry chocolate cake would have 1 tsp raspberry extract and 2 tbs framoise liqueur.
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