It’s very important to have all the ingredients for this cake at room temperature and the chocolate fluid but not too warm before mixing them with the egg whites: Barely warm ingredients blend together more easily. Buy the best chocolate you can find for both the icing and the cake. The French Valrhona is my favorite, but whatever chocolate you use, just make sure it’s bittersweet, not unsweetened.—Jill Prescott
For the cake
4 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Finely chopped zest of 2 oranges
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
3/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon cake flour
1/2 cup grated bittersweet chocolate, for decoration
For the shiny chocolate icing
7 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
7 tablespoons clarified butter
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Cut a circle of parchment paper to the exact size of an 8-inch round cake pan, using the pan’s base as a template. Lightly butter the sides and bottom of the pan, place the parchment circle on the bottom, and butter the parchment. Lightly flour the sides and bottom of the pan, and tap out the excess.
2. To make the cake batter, place the chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat. When the chocolate begins to look glossy and melted, remove from the heat and stir to be sure it’s completely melted. Return to the heat for a moment, if needed, to finish melting. Let cool until barely warm before processing.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and zest on medium-low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened and very fluffy. Add and beat in the egg yolks and Grand Marnier for 30 seconds, until smooth. Scoop the warm chocolate into the egg mixture and beat on medium-low speed until blended and smooth.
4. Is a separate clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a clean copper bowl using a balloon whisk, whisk the whites until they are slightly foamy. Add the cream of tartar (add only if not whisking in a copper bowl) and salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to whisk for 20 to 30 seconds, until stiff, glossy peaks form.
5. Using a wide rubber spatula, fold a large spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Put the flour into a fine-mesh strainer, sift a few tablespoons over the chocolate mixtures, and fold in. Continue adding and folding the egg whites and flour into the batter, alternating between them. Using a light hand, fold in each addition almost completely before adding the next. The mixture should be completely smooth, but take care not to overmix the batter or it will loss precious air. The batter should be light and somewhat fluffy.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset or flat spatula to gentle spread the batter evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center of the cake is moist and leaves moist crumbs when pierced with a toothpick. The edges will be dry 2 to 3 inches in from the rim of the pan. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes before unmolding. Loosen the edges with a small knife and gently invert and unmold the cake onto the cooling rack. Carefully peel away and discard the parchment paper. When the cake is completely cool, brush loose crumbs from the sides and top.
7. To prepare the icing, put the chocolate into a small saucepan. Put the cream in another saucepan and heat over low heat, just until hand-hot; do not let it reach the simmering point. Pout the cream over the chocolate (the pan of chocolate should not be over the heat). Whisk the mixture gently, just enough to melting the chocolate. (If there are any stubborn chunks of chocolate that that have not melted, place the pan over very low heat for a few moments to melt them.) Add the clarified butter and whisk together until blended.
8. To glaze the cake with the icing, begin by pouring the icing onto the center of the cake. Spread with an icing spatula so that the icing runs down the sides and covers the whole cake. Press the grated chocolate into the icing on the sides of the cake while the icing is still soft. In a cool room or in the refrigerator, let the cake stand until the icing is set, about 30 minutes. (If refrigerated for too long, the icing will loss its shine. To bring the shine back, place the cake in a warm 350°F (180°C) oven for 5 seconds, no more.)
Recipe © 2001 Jill Prescott. All rights reserved.