La Bête Noire
The Black Beast. I think that’s a perfect name for A. the virus I just told you about and B. this ganache-laden flourless chocolate cake.
First things first: I have recovered. For those of you wondering if this lil shortlist would ever be able to digest non-pale items again – fear not! After over three days of english muffin induced coma, my stomach has decided to man up and once again take control of what it lets in (and what it shoots out). Yesterday afternoon I was well enough to spend a few hours getting a private tour of the new wing of the Museum of Fine Arts followed by dinner at our hands down favorite red sauce Italian restaurant. Where the chicken parm does not fit on the plate and attempting to share the equally gargantuan chocolate bread pudding has, once or twice, caused family members to go home in separate cars. For better or worse, I didn’t finish off the evening with my husband and father – sipping Armagnac while listening to long lost Circus Maximus vinyls – but hey, at least I’m back in the game.
Now onto today’s truly newsworthy item: la bête noire. I’d wanted to make this dessert for a long time but held off because I couldn’t justify – I couldn’t even imagine – using 26 ounces (more than 700 grams) of chocolate in one cake. But it will deplete my entire chocolate supply! I thought. And I inevitably made something else.
I’m almost glad I waited so long to make this because it took an army – and about a week – to finish it off. Had we attempted to conquer the beast alone, Francesco and I probably would have ended up dazed on the kitchen floor, the dog licking the chocolate off our cheeks and fingers, the bigger-than-your-stomach permanently wiped from our eyes.
A sliver of this decadent, thick, fudge-like torte will satisfy even the most hardcore chocoholic. And it’s dangerously easy to make. If you can bring yourself to sacrifice more than 1.6 lbs of good chocolate to one dessert. The only ingredients are sugar, butter, dark chocolate, eggs and heavy cream. And the only not you-could-do-this-with-your-eyes-closed step is the water bath, which means you have to securely wrap the spring form pan in 3 layers of tin foil to prevent seepage.
If you need a sweet that requires no effort and will feed and impress a lot of people over the holidays, turn to the dark side. Your loved ones – and chocolate producers worldwide – will thank you. We left off the whipped cream called for in the original recipe, but maybe your guests would like it. Just a little something to soften their fall from grace.
LA BÊTE NOIRE
The Black Beast recipe comes to us courtesy of Jason Aronen via Bon Appétit circa 2006 via Epicurious. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, use their Pound Plus Bar and save yourself some dough and a lot of unwrapping. You can make this a few days in advance (leave it wrapped in plastic on the counter).
Serves at least 20
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim.
Combine 1 cup water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt butter in another large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk the sugar syrup you just made into the chocolate; cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
Bake cake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan (do not remove sides).
Bring whipping cream to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake (which is still in pan with the sides on). Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. I sprinkled some mini chocolate chips around the border because I had them. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours or just leave it on the counter for about 5 hours.
Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides. Cut cake into small slices and serve with whipped cream if desired.