Sunday, April 18, 2010

Making Gâteau au Chocolat

Flourless chocolate cake. How many among us would turn down a slice of this dense, decadent nearing-perfection dessert? Even if I've just stuffed myself on multiple courses of the most buttery and creamy French food you can imagine, I would still find room for a slice of rich gâteau au chocolat. I used to buy some every now and then at one of my favorite Parisian pâtisseries, savor every last bite, and wash it all down with a (very un-French) glass of cold milk. Bliss.

Not satisfied with simply purchasing already-baked cake, I set out to learn how to make my own gâteau at home. As expected, there are very few ingredients in flourless chocolate cake. It's simply chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and, despite its name in English, a wee bit of flour. But while the ingredients are simple, the process is anything but. Many times I've made a cake that didn't quite turn out right, and twice I've flat out ruined it.

The first tale of ruination involved the mistreatment of eggs. I apparently didn't incorporate them well enough into the batter, so the cake came out of the oven with chunks of cooked egg in every slice. An omelette au chocolat, if you you will. The second time I used 100% cocoa dark chocolate, making the cake incredibly bitter. Some palates might like that taste, but to me it was inedible.

If you use the right chocolate, mix the eggs well, and don't over-bake the batter (it should come out of the oven with a little liquidity left in the center), the following recipe will yield you a most delicious treat. You'll be tempted to eat it immediately, but try to resist. Flourless chocolate cake should rest for at least a few hours, overnight if possible. In fact, this cake is actually at its best on approximately day three of its existence. I dare you to make it last that long.

Gâteau au Chocolat

I took this recipe from a French cookbook I had when I lived in Paris. I've converted the amounts in grams and other measurements to their equivalents for an American kitchen, except for the chocolate, bars of which are measured in grams even in the U.S.

200 grams of dark chocolate, preferably 60% cocoa
200 grams of butter (14 tablespoons)
250 grams of sugar (1.1 cups, just do your best to find the .1, I've found it's ok if it's not exact)
5 eggs
1 cuillere à soupe of flour (one tablespoon)

Preheat the over to 190 Celsius (375 Fahrenheit)

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a pot over low heat.
Once the butter and chocolate are melted, remove from heat, mix in the sugar.
Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes.
Once cool, add the eggs one by one, making sure each has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
Lastly, mix in the flour.
Pour the mixture into a 9 inch round pan that has been buttered and floured.
Bake the cake for 22 minutes, remove from the oven to cool for about 10 minutes, and then flip the cake over onto a serving platter (for best results, hold the platter flat against the top of the cake pan when you do this)
Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar if desired.


Zhu said...

It looks super yummy!

I used to make cakes in France but I stopped when I came here. Since we are only two, I find cakes are too big... we either eat too much, either it takes forever to finish it. So I became a cookie person.

Tanya said...

@Zhu, Yes, the cake is too big...I'm trying not to eat the entire thing!