“Baking chez moi” is an endless source of recipes and at Sweettablescapes, we never tire to flip through the pages, looking for some inspiration and mostly sweet temptation.
I also like having a loaf or two in my freezer when dessert is needed unexpectedly. Loaves are unpretentious and yet very satisfying cakes that can be easily stored. If I have some time on my hands and all of the usually-very-basic ingredients, I love making them in advance and having the reassuring feeling that something sweet is available any time! This dark and “Carrement Chocolat” version (as Dorie Greenspan calls it) just seemed like the perfect “back-up” dessert to have in the freezer. And when time came to enjoy it…how enjoyable it was!!! “Carrement” chocolate it was indeed, moist and rich, a perfect cake for any chocolate lover!
For the salted chocolate:
6 oz or 170 g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt)
For the cake:
1 cup (136 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (28 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of fine sea alt
13 Tbsp (6 1/2 oz or 184 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the syrup:
1/2 cup (120ml) water
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
To make the salted chocolate: Line an 8X8 square pan with plastic film. Melt chocolate until perfectly smooth (in microwave or double boiler) and stir in fleur de sel.
Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan – you want a layer that is between a 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick- Freeze for at least one hour. For this recipe to succeed, chocolate must be very cold and very firm.
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350F and stack two baking sheets on top of one another. Butter a 8 1/2 X 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, dust with flour and tap out excess. Set the pan on the baking sheets.
Put the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to blend thoroughly. Turn the dry ingredients out onto a sheet of parchment paper.
Cut the butter into pieces and toss it into the food processor, along with the sugar and eggs. Pulse a few times to get things going, then process for 6 full minutes, scraping down the bowl a couple of times, until the mixture is light, liquefied and full of bubbles. Gently scrape the mixture into a large bowl.
Meanwhile, remove the salted chocolate from the freezer, peel away the plastic, and using a heavy chef’s knife, cut it into cubes that are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. The chocolate melts quickly, so work fast and immediately return the cubes to the freezer.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and, using a large flexible spatula, fold them in gently but thoroughly.
Drop the chocolate cubes into the bowl, stir to distribute them evenly and then scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake the cake for about one hour, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out dry. Transfer the cake to a rack and let it rest for 5 minutes, then unmold it onto the rack. You can soak the cake with syrup to enhance its tender texture. Bring 1/2 cup water and 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat. Brush the syrup over the top and sides of the hot cake, working slowly and allowing it to soak into the cake. Cool completely on the rack.
We skipped the syrup because we tend to avoid too much added sweetness, and the cake was still really tender and delicious. Feel free to freeze it so you have a terrific chocolate dessert on hand. Just remember to take it out of the freezer the night before your guests arrive!!