If you had stopped by last week, you would have seen me sprawled out on my kitchen floor, surrounded by stacks of cookbooks and festooned with sticky note flags. I was collecting recipes for next week’s big Passover feast, and the perfect dessert was eluding me.
As holiday meals go, the Seder is an especially demanding one, requiring a long list of dietary do’s and don’ts, enough courses to accompany four glasses of wine, and an abundance of crowd-pleasing food. By the time dessert is finally served, everyone is hankering for a transcendent finale.
I kept flipping back to this recipe from a cookbook that has come through meal after meal, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Though I’ve never been to any of the four wildly popular market/restaurants in London, the flavors of Yotam Ottolenghi’s imaginative veggie-heavy cuisine float right off the pages.
So, too, did this cake, which, after testing it twice, was just the slice of heaven I was looking for. Using the best quality chocolate (a combination of bittersweet and dark) and sufficiently frothing the egg whites (It takes longer than you think.) will ensure all proper decadence. Ottolenghi’s genius twist is that part of the batter gets held back and baked at the end, resulting in a top layer so light and fudgy it will leave your guests with the sweet thought that our collective story definitely has a happy ending.
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, cut into small cubes
Sweetened cocoa powder for dusting
3-1/2 ounces extra dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
9-1/2 ounces dark chocolate (50 percent cocoa solids), chopped
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup water
5 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of kosher salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a thin coat of butter and dust lightly with cocoa powder.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Pour the sugar syrup over the chocolate and butter and stir until it is all melted together.
3. Stir the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture one at a time, then the vanilla. Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature. Whisk the whites and the salt until firm, then fold into the chocolate.
4. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and cook for 35-40 minutes, just until a toothpick comes out clean. Reduce the heat to 325° F. Set aside the cake until completely cool. Then pour the remaining batter over the top and cook for another 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center drags up barely set batter. Set aside to cool, then unmold carefully, dust with cocoa powder (I use a powdered sugar shaker for this), and slice.
NOTE: The cake can be made 2 days ahead. Keep it covered in an airtight container and serve at room temperature.
For more fail-proof Passover recipes, try my Fluffy Matzah Balls, Perfect Zucchini-Potato Latkes, Seared Fish with Simple Tomato-Herb Sauce, Poached Pears with Chocolate Ganache, and Flourless Fig and Walnut Torte.
This month’s cooking contest is all about artichokes — send in your favorite recipe now!
Photo credit: tastespotting.com