Sugar-high Friday is a tender year old this month - which means I have missed a whopping 11 installments. Suffice to say that Fridays are bad days for posting for me, not only because the week leaves me dire little time to do any cooking (and I can't possibly think a week ahead) and by the time I get to breathe through at the end of the work week, SHF is almost over. No time to find a recipe, do the shopping and whip up something spectacular in a matter of two hours! Especially since desserts are not my forte - merely for lack of trying. By the end of the meal, we're usually so stuffed that we skip this part... so I very seldom prepare any at all. And when I need my daily sugar-fix at around 4 in the afternoon, I tend to indulge in great quality chocolate, which I buy at artisan chocolatiers (Pierre Marcolini, Maison du Chocolat, William Curley, etc) - of course these chocolates are not quite as cheap as your regular purple wrappers, so that one piece needs to go a long way... So whenever the theme is something as ecclectic as, say, tea, I don't usually have a recipe up my sleeve. I have managed to participate the February edition, though, with a baked apple, white chocolate cream and almond glaze mille-feuille, which was something I had wanted to make for ages and was just waiting for such an opportunity to come around. This time, I was helped by the fact that I have taken some time off work and the theme for the month is dark chocolate, which I use a lot. Kelli challenged us to go beyond our staple desserts, though, or at least give something tried and tested a new twist. Though I would have liked to browse cookbooks for hours to find something new, I did not have the leisure... my other engagements (like - hopefully not - being on TV and all) kept me too busy ;-) I was tempted to do a chocolate soufflé, just because SHF coincides with an IMBB this time and the theme is soufflés - kill two birds with one stone, eh? But I have posted a chocolate & wattleseed soufflé before, so I resisted, despite my innate laziness.
So here's a recipe a use a lot - not just because it's delicious and dangerously moreish, also because it's so simple you'll make it once and never forget the recipe! It's a traditional moëlleux to which today I added some crushed coffee beans - only try this at home if you have good quality coffee. Like our Musetti, which I am incredibly lucky to have a constant supply of, as in the UK, this is only available to restaurants and bars... but I tried it once, fell in love and after 3 months of hassling the Italian headquarters, they sent out a decree to their UK branch (a warehouse in the middle of nowhere) that they must deliver coffee to me when they do their round in South-West London, even though I only order 2 or 3 kilos at a time, not 20 or 30+.
But I digress. This cake is great for anyone who needs an indulging, gluten-free dessert... no flour in sight! Serve with any kind of fruit, I often cover the top with a load of raspberries, which are a personal favourite of mine, but the physalis go quite nicely with it, and so would a fig stew or some poached pears... you catch my drift. The coffee beans add a lovely crunch to this smoothest of chocolate cakes, so do try it if you can get your hands on some!
Moëlleux au chocolat - sunken chocolate cake
(yields 8 generous, 12 greedy slices)
200 g good-quality dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa content - I used a Scharffen-Berger bitter-sweet)
3 tbsp crushed coffee beans (instant coffee, if you prefer)
200 g butter
200 g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
Pre-heat the oven to 170 C.
Break the dark chocolate into a mixing bowl which you place over simmering water. If using couverture or other especially chunky slabs of chocolate, you might want to cut it into pieces to save you time. Melt the chocolate, then remove the bowl from the heat, leaving it to cool slightly. Stir in the crushed coffee beans.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Beat the whites until starting to stiffen, add 100 g of sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are glossy and very stiff (they have the right consistency when you can turn the bowl on its head without the eggs coming out).
Now turn to your yolks, beating them with the remaining sugar until pale and creamy. Beat the butter into the chocolate. Whisk in this chocolate mix slowly with the yolk and sugar, then fold in the whites gently.
Butter a non-stick spring-form tin, pour in the chocolate mixture and even out. Put into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Take out and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving, still warm, with some fruit or ice cream on the side.