Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Le Marquis, or Chocolate Sponge Cake

Issues, people, issues.

I'm having baking issues. Remember how I said that I don't like to have baked goods around the house, and I don't like cake? Well, explain why I've made 2 cakes in a week. I guess I'll blame it on the fact that it's February, the time of year when I become starved for sunlight and go into hibernation mode.

So this time, I made Le Marquis, or Chocolate Sponge Cake, also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

This cake is pretty much the same as the other, but first I melted some chocolate with some strong coffee in a double boiler.

Julia Child had said something about putting chocolate in a covered pot and putting that pot inside of another pot, but it just didn't make much sense to me. A bowl set over some simmering water worked just fine.

I should probably mention that I realize that Julia Child was not the only author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I use her name exclusively for the sake of ease.

Meanwhile, egg yolks were combined with sugar and beaten until they reached the ribbon stage.

When the chocolate was 'tepid,' it was combined with the egg yolk mixture.

Egg whites were beaten to stiff peaks and combined with the chocolate mixture. The hard part, though, was folding in a quarter of the egg whites, a quarter of the flour, and repeating until it was all combined.

I mentioned that I'm not too good with the whole folding thing, so I wasn't surprised when my cake didn't rise the way it was supposed to. It was apparently supposed to come above the lip of the cake pan by a quarter of an inch.

That totally didn't happen. Plus, the cake again cooked in way less time than Julia said it would, so I felt that it could have used a couple less minutes in the oven.

That's okay, though, because it was pretty yummy. Perhaps it was supposed to be lighter, fluffier, and airier than it was, but who knows?

I can't tell you what the cake was supposed to taste like, but I can tell you that it was satisfyingly chocolaty without being overwhelmingly dense, and I can tell you that my coworkers devoured it.

I got exiled to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) for a while, and some of the secretaries called me back there to tell me that they love me. Maybe that's why I keep making cakes. I'm buying love with baked goods.

But remember how I said 3 desserts ago that I was not going to eat again until my birthday? Obviously, that didn't happen, and I pigged out at La Scala anyway. It was delicious, and a lot of fun. I ate a chocolate cannoli all by myself, and I could have eaten another one. If you ever go there, you should get the grilled Caesar salad and a chocolate cannoli.

Cannolis are one of those foods that a lot of people claim to not like. I agree that most cannolis are terrible, but I can tell you that the cannolis at La Scala in Baltimore will change your mind. They're nothing like the cloyingly sweet rock-hard tubes of blandness that most people call cannolis.

After dinner, we came home and walked to our friend's house. It's pretty cool that we're neighbors, because instead of driving around in the snow after dinner, we got to hang out some more in front of a fireplace.

That's right, it was snowing. Again.

There was a time when I didn't even bother to make birthday plans because it would inevitably sleet and/or snow, and it's such a bummer when your friends cancel on your birthday plans, even if it's for a good reason. So I made plans this year, and it snowed. Shocking!

And you know what? I was going to do some more birthdayish stuff with the family on Saturday, but they're now calling for snow that will be "measured in feet, not inches." Awesome.

That's okay, though, because it will be a good excuse to make something from the Braise book, and I'll get to stay at home and eat it. None of that driving to work in the snow junk.
And definitely none of that "bring a bag because you will not be allowed to leave" stuff.

I'll just be doing some sitting by the fire and stuffing my face stuff.

Le Marquis
(Chocolate Spongecake, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

  • 3 1/2 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup cake flour, turned into a sifter

Butter and flour a round 8 inch cake pan (1 1/2 inches deep). Measure out the ingredients.

Place the chocolate and coffee in the small pan, cover, and set in the larger pan of simmering water. Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so while you proceed with the recipe. Then beat in the butter.

Beat the egg yolks in the mixing bowl, gradually adding the sugar, until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and forms a 'ribbon' when the beaters are lifted out of the bowl.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until soft peaks are formed.

Fold the tepid chocolate and butter into the batter, then fold in one fourth of the flour and continue folding, alternating rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Immediately turn batter into prepared pan and run it up to the rim all around. Bake in the middle level of pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, or until cake has puffed 1/4 inch above the rim and the top has cracked. Note: I always find that these cakes are done way before the suggested 25 minutes, so keep a close eye on your cake. A skewer or straw should come out clean when plunged 1 1/2 inches from the edge, but should be slightly oily with a few specks of chocolate clinging when plunged into the middle area.

Let cool 10 minutes; cake will sink slightly. Run a knife around the inside of the pan, and reverse onto a rack. Let cool 2 hours before icing, if you plan to ice the cake. Or, you can serve it with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar.


Green Eats said...

I'm baking La Marquis right now! I was in the mood to bake and happened to have all the ingredients on hand. The only "oops" is that I forgot to melt the butter in with the chocolate, so I had to pour the batter back out of the pan, fold in the melted butter, and pour it back into the pan. I'm sure I lost some volume there, but my cake is still in the oven so we'll see how it comes out.

Glad I found your blog!

Leah said...

I do that kind of stuff all the time. I hope your cake turns out well!