The lyrics to “Darkness on the Delta” are painted on the risers of the stairs that come down into my home kitchen. The wall next to the old barrel-house piano off the living room is papered with faded copies of sheet music for the song by Mildred Bailey; Author Tracy, “Street Singer of the Air”; Paul Whiteman’s Rhythm Boys (No, I did not make that name up); Ambrose and his Mayfair Orchestra; and Yazoo City’s own Herbie Holmes and his Orchestra. If this flood plain had an anthem, this song would be it. As the song drifts to a conclusion, it trails off with the aspiration “When it’s darkness on the delta, let me linger ‘neath the shelter of the night.”
This deep, dark-as-night fudgy dessert is a cool ending to a dinner party on a starry evening.–Martha Hall Foose
Bittersweet Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Quick Glance
- Serves 8
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- Fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon bourbon
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving
- Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
- 1. Put the chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
- 2. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and a little nutmeg to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Slowly whisk in half of the milk mixture. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens; about 5 minutes. Do not boil.
- 3. Pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the butter a little at a time, and then add the vanilla and bourbon. Whisk until the mixture is very smooth.
- 4. Spray a 6-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line with plastic wrap. Scrape the mixture into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.
- 5. When ready to serve, invert the cake onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Dust with cocoa and confectioners’ sugar.
- I like to stencil sugar stars across this cake, using a piece of cardboard with a cutout in it as a guide.
- Be aware that egg yolks should not sit in sugar too long. The sugar will sort of “cook” the yolk and make it grainy.
- This dessert can be frozen, well wrapped, for a month.
Bittersweet Chocolate Cake Recipe © 2008 Martha Hall Foose. Photo © 2008 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.