I remember nothing else about the day – but this I do remember: I came home and the November 1997 issue of Gourmet was in the mail. I leafed through, as I often do, looking at the photos before a more (hopefully) thorough reading later on. I was instantly captivated by this humble little five-ingredient cake. I made it that night, and many, many times since. Too many times to count. This is “our” cake.
I’ve made it with expensive “good” chocolate, bakers chocolate and chocolate chips. I’ve made it with plain old cocoa powder, Dutch-processed and a mix of both.
I’ve tweaked it a bit now and then with a half teaspoon of espresso powder, a little vanilla or both, and even on occasion thrown in a touch of Grand Marnier or a bit of raspberry liquor. I’ve over baked it (a bit harsh but still good,) baked it just right (a little more like a brownie) and slightly underbaked it – the bomb!
None of that matters. This cake is always good, and always easy. And it delivers on just what is required: pure, unadulterated chocolate flavor.
As a matter of fact, serve milk, serve a slightly softened vanilla ice-cream or a lightly whipped cream – you know just the kind, I’m sure, a whipped cream that just isn’t quite to a stiff peak. One that settles with a sigh and melts into the cake. Perfection. That’s this cake – you will need milk or milk products!
Sprinkle on a bit of powdered sugar or cocoa if you’d like – it won’t disguise the downright homeliness of the cake. Dress it up, perhaps by nestling it into a silky bed of creme Anglaise or raspberry coulis.
This is the cake I serve to family, to friends over for a casual dinner, to those that have no need to be impressed with mere looks. This is not the cake I bring to gatherings, where looks and good behavior matter, sometimes more than taste. This is the dirty little secret cake, the closet cake. It’s a little homely, a little gooey. It’s the cake whipped up at a moment’s notice and served to those who are lucky enough to happen to be a part of our inner sanctum.
Do not underestimate this cake. Do not judge on looks, presentation, nor the simplicity of preparation. This is one of the best Chocolate Cakes you will ever eat.
This cake takes five minutes to mix up, 20 – 25 minutes to bake and uses ingredients most people have hanging around. Although rather smallish (eight-inch diameter) this cake will easily serve six to eight people. It is that rich. Talk about a great value for your chocolate…ah, er, money.
So, after all this, I hope you’ll try it and enjoy it as much as we do! I’ve written the recipe with the adaptations I’ve learned as I’ve made this, my notes in parentheses. The important thing, here? Keep it simple, as it is supposed to be – don’t over think this little cake. Don’t pull out the kitchen aide; just stir it together and bake it.
Look for baking goods & whipping cream to be on sale around just about any holiday, especially Easter and the winter triad – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Buy extra butter whenever it’s on sale and chuck it in the freezer where it will stay perfectly for months!
Inner Sanctum Chocolate Cake
- 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for dusting pan
Preheat oven to 375°F and butter or spray an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter or spray paper. Make sure sides of pan are well greased. Add a tablespoon of cocoa to pan and shake and turn, making sure to cover well. Turn pan upside down over sink and gently tap to knock off excess.
Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a medium-sized or larger, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate with butter, stirring after one minute, and then in 30-second intervals until chocolate is just melted. Stir until smooth.
Gently whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs (all at once is fine) and whisk well until just combined. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and stir and fold with a spatula until just combined. (The sifting helps ensure the cocoa is light and fluffy and easily incorporates into the batter. Don’t skip it.)
(You are not incorporating air into this cake, it will be flat and dense, but you don’t want to over beat nor under mix. The cocoa and eggs should be all incorporated. Adding eggs and cocoa should all be done by hand.)
Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust and a toothpick inserted in cake comes out with a few moist crumbs adhering. (This will give you a cake with a brownie-like texture.)
Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Peel off parchment.
My notes on how to achieve a softer fudgy cake, as shown in the photos:
To achieve what I think is the perfect texture, meaning it still holds together and can be sliced cleanly but is still very moist and slightly fudgy, bake for about 22 minutes, remove, let cool in pan about 10 minutes and then invert. Let cool to room temperature.
My notes on how to achieve a softer, ooey-gooey pudding-like cake:
If you wish to have a rather soft cake with an ooey, gooey pudding-like texture inside, bake for 20 minutes, until the crust has formed, perhaps with only one or two very slight cracks, and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. It should be a little puffed, the edges firm and feel a just bit firm to the touch but not jiggly.
Do not turn out until cake has cooled considerably longer, about 20 minutes. Run a knife around the outside, place a flat plate over the cake and invert. A flat plate means the cake has less distance to drop and less chance it will blow out on the sides.
Wait another few minutes for it to set up (slightly warm is fine) and slice with a long knife, in one motion, straight down. The longer the cake cools, the firmer the texture.
- Oven temperatures can vary. Take notes from your first bake and you’ll have a better idea of how long you wish to bake it to get your perfect texture.
- I like this cake so much I often cut out multiple rounds of parchment when I make it, just to make it easier next time – I’m lazy and hate cutting out parchment rounds!
- From other bloggers and comments, this cake can be doubled and baked in a 9″ spring form pan. It seems it will still only need to be baked for about 25 minutes, but will (my guess) need to be cooled a bit longer before it is able to be cut.
- The cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week. Like it will ever last that long…
From the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com
I’ll be posting this little recipe on two link parties; a link party is a weekly posting where bloggers from all over “bring” a dish. They’re great places to see a roundup of recipes from various bloggers all in one place.
I’m reposting this recipe (it was one of my early blog posts) with additions and new photos and bringing this cake to Fiesta Friday 90 put on by Angie of the Novice Gardener. The hosts this week are Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Lindy @ Lindy Mechefske.
I’m bringing this to another roundup party, Tasty Tuesday – it’s my first time there and should be fun!
Today, I was presented with a small miracle, and I just had to add it on to this post and share it. I’ve been helping my folks in South Dakota through the summer and fall and came home to an overgrown, neglected yard and gardens. I was so bummed, but I glanced over to see one perfect rose on a very persnickety bush – in October, in Minnesota.