I like to make a special dinner and dessert for my family on Valentine’s Day. Last year we had salmon (heart healthy you know) then we all dove in to a chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream. It’s a great memory so I wanted to make something special this year as well. Unfortunately, I decided to ask the 6 year olds what they thought might be fun to have for dinner and was met with much arguing and whining about not wanting what the other one wanted and so on and so forth. It was not at all productive and may have ended badly with me losing my cool and threatening no bedtime stories if the sassy bratty-ness continued. So, I’m still not sure what we’ll have for dinner but I was at least smart enough not seek their opinion on dessert! They’re my girls so I know anything chocolate will make them happy. This cake serves about twelve people so it’s probably a bit large for a romantic dinner for two but it’s great for a family celebration (especially knowing we’ll have houseguests this weekend to help polish it off!)
I made many Chocolate Truffle Cakes in my years baking at The Treehouse restaurant. It was one of my favorites because it’s relatively quick and easy but so rich and elegant that customers would rave about it. I often served it with raspberry sauce and would have done the same today but I had this lovely salted caramel sauce in my fridge and no raspberries in my freezer. That’s the really great thing about truffle cake, it’s so versatile! Use it as a base and let your imagination and taste buds guide you or simply enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream. Fresh strawberries are, of course, fabulous with it!
Chocolate Truffle Cake
1 tsp melted butter and @ 2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder for pan
1 lb semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, best quality you can find
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coffee extract (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 eggs, room temp, separated
2 TB sugar
caramel or raspberry sauce (store bought or homemade) or accompaniment of your choice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place eggs in warm tap water to quickly bring to room temp. In my experience, room temp eggs are easier to separate and more voluminous when beaten.
Prepare a 9 inch round cake pan. First, oil the pan a bit so the parchment sticks better then line it with parchment paper or foil, making sure there is overlap. You will be using the paper/foil to lift the cake out of the pan.
Coat the paper (up to the top of the pan) with melted butter. Sift cocoa powder to coat the bottom of the pan.
Chop chocolate, if necessary (I had buttons). Place in a double boiler with butter. Melt on medium heat over, not in, the water. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can rig one up with two saucepans or even melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. Always stir frequently while it’s melting and never let chocolate get too hot!
Meanwhile, separate the eggs. I find the hand method easiest but you can certainly do shell to shell.
pour it in to a large mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla and coffee extracts and salt. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, beat egg yolks on high speed with a stand mixer or hand held beaters until they are thick and pale yellow.
Gently, fold yolks into cooled chocolate mixture. Folding is different from stirring as you actually fold the mixture over itself with a rubber spatula rather than stirring it, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. It especially important when incorporating egg whites as they are likely to break down if stirred too vigorously.
until fully incorporated. Do not over mix!
Gently spread batter evenly.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes on middle oven rack, until the cake has risen to the top of the pan and the top is beginning to crack slightly. You want to be sure to not over bake the cake, it should still be a little jiggly, not fully set. I baked mine for 22 minutes and it was perfect but oven temps can vary so check it at 20 minutes, sooner if your oven runs hot.
The cake will sink a bit a few minutes after it comes out. This is fine and normal. Allow to cool on counter for about 30 minutes then transfer to your refrigerator. Let it chill until it is set, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. It should be completely firm when set.
Lift the cake out of the pan and invert on to a large plate or platter.
To cut, run a knife under very hot tap water, dry knife, and make a cut halfway across the cake.
Repeat with hot tap water, wiping off excess, and make a cut to meet the first.
Continue, running the knife under tap water and wiping off excess each time,
until you have 12 pieces. If you are not serving it all at once, stop at a few and refrigerate the remainder uncut.
Whipping your own cream will make this extra delicious but you can certainly use the kind in the aerosol can. I have to say I would really feel horrible if you used a certain non-dairy whipped topping on this fine cake so please don’t tell me if you do.
Garnish the cake with whipped cream and any sauce, fruit, nuts, etc. you desire. The salted caramel sauce was insanely good with it.
I’m so fortunate to have found my perfect weirdo so long ago :)!