French Chocolate Cake

I am going to Paris!  I am so so excited.  I leave this Saturday.  In preparation, I am reading David Lebovitz's Book "The Sweet Life in Paris".  I am enjoying it a great deal, although I feel like it is always a little dangerous to read the impressions of someone else right before you go, lest your expectations are skewed.  It does seem to reinforce a lot of stereotypes.

One of the best parts of the book is that he has interspersed recipes throughout books.  This is pretty brilliant and I think all books should have recipes in them: fiction, non-fiction, even textbooks.  I think I would have enjoyed some of my math textbooks more if they had along side proofs for Stokes' Theorem a recipe for a smooth manifold cake.  (Don't worry, I don't expect anyone to actually understand that).

Regardless of stereotypes, the French do things differently, and at least when it comes to pastries one must concede they do it better.  For example, this is a recipe for a chocolate cake, so guess what the main ingredient is . . . chocolate!  It has only 2 tablespoons of flour.  Most cake recipes I've seen use 1-2 cups flour, at least.

For this recipe, I got to use one of my favorite kitchen items, and also one of the prettiest, my copper double boiler.  Technically it is my mom's, who got it as a wedding present, but since I use it more, it has migrated to Seattle with me.

Being lazy about dishes, I just mixed the rest whole cake up in the pot.  I had to beat the egg whites seperatly, of course and then added them.

Another interesting thing about this recipe, no leavening (baking powder etc.).  The lift comes from the air bubbles in the egg whites.  Even though the cake is very rich and dense, it isn't heavy like a pound cake.  It is super moist too, everything you could ask for in a chocolate cake.

This recipe is for a small, bread pan sized cake, not a big sheet cake.  It is very chocolatey though, so you needn't eat as much to get the same satisfaction, and for someone who is planning on spending the next week eating her way through Paris, smaller portion sizes are probably wise.

French Chocolate Cake

9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs (at room temperature,separated)
2 tbsps flour
pinch of salt

1. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler (or in a bowl over a pot of boiling water). Remove from heat.
2. Add half sugar and egg yolks to chocolate.
3. Add flour and stir.
4. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
5. Add remaining sugar and continue to beat until whites are glossy and peaks hold their shape.
6. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.
7. Scrap batter into a loaf pan which has been buttered and the bottom lined with parchment paper.
8. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.
From "The Sweet Life in Paris" by David Lebovitz
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