by Anya von Bremzen
from The Greatest Dishes! Around the World in 80 Recipes
Serves 14 to 16
The original recipe, published in Heron’s Rose Pistola Cookbook, comprises several elements and requires not insignificant baking skills. Realizing that this might be daunting for some, Heron invites less ambitious cooks to make the cake part alone (he calls it budino, or pudding, but it’s more like a flourless cake).
Even in this simplified form, the cake is a thing of beauty. Not wanting to lose the lovely nut flavor of the original, I added some hazelnuts and hazelnut liqueur to the cake batter. I love the hazelnuts but if you like your chocolate cakes silky-smooth, omit them. The cake is gigantic, easily enough for sixteen. For a more intimate occasion, halve the recipe and bake in a smaller mixing bowl. For optimum results, use Scharfen Berger dark chocolate. Valrhona or Callebaut are good, too, though the latter tends to be smoky Lindt “75% Cacao” bars are a fine inexpensive option.—Anya von Bremzen
For the cake
10 large eggs
1 pound best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup strong brewed espresso
1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
1 cup skinned, lightly toasted ground hazelnuts (optional)
For the glaze
5 to 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (same as for cake), grated
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
Unsweetened whipped cream
Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line a 3-quart metal or stainless mixing bowl with foil. The bowl should be completely covered, with a couple of inches overhang. Make the foil as smooth as possible.
2. Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until frothy.
3. In a large double boiler or a stainless bowl set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate with the butter until smooth, stirring, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sugar, espresso, and liqueur and continue to cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
4. Gradually, whisk the chocolate into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly, until the mixture is homogenous. Fold in the hazelnuts, if using.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared bowl. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven until the top is slightly puffy and crisp but the center is still moist, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. A cake tester inserted in the center won’t come out clean, but it shouldn’t have visible liquid on it. Let the cake cool on a rack, then refrigerate, covered loosely with plastic, for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. (It will continue to firm as it chills.) The cake can be made up to two days ahead.
Make the glaze
1. In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate in the cream until completely smooth, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the butter until glossy.
2. Invert the cake onto a large cake plate and carefully peel off the foil. With a rubber spatula, coat the cake with the chocolate glaze, wiping the sides of the plate clean with a piece of damp paper towel. Let stand until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes, then refrigerate for another hour. Before serving, dust the cake lightly with cocoa powder using a sifter. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and an acidic sorbet or fruit salad, if desired.
Recipe © 2004 Anya von Bremzen. All rights reserved.