My obsession with tidying up preceded “The Marie Condo” prodigy by a decade.
I initially caught the bug of tidying up when I moved to Paris. The City of Light mandated a radical change of lifestyle. Our apartment was huge by French standards, yet fairly small by Californian terms. My husband and I swiftly figured that downsizing was the road to a quality life in our new cozy place.
Following an involved soul search, we started off with books– the most voluminous and high-maintenance belongings in our household.
We piled up some new coffee table books. Finding a good home for them was, by far, the easiest part. A Canadian friend who owns and runs Abbey Bookstore, an independent English bookstore in the heart of the Latin Quarter, accepted them under one condition.
A magnet for expat avid readers, Abbey bookstore is often described by its devotees as the mecca of Anglo-Saxon affiliates. There, you meet eclectic crowd from all paths of life. The bookstore, with its positive vibes, is famous for igniting love stories, incubating heated intellectual discussions and often serving as an employment fair where young expats stumble upon dream job opportunities.
His condition to accept the books was to offer us something in return. Forever, I will remain grateful to his offer. In many ways, this food blog wouldn’t have existed today without his gift.
One day he stopped by our place to drop off French: The Secrets of Classic Cooking Made Easy, the first cookbook I ever owned and the cornerstone of my passion for French cuisine.
Back then, I was a newlywed who was a fledgling cook with mediocre baking skills – but I was open to improving. French cuisine, however, was, to me, daunting and obscure. French: The Secrets of Classic Recipes Made Easy is the book that threw me, given its streamlined classic recipes, into that rabbit hole of fine cooking. Since then, I found myself first starting with French cooking and later fearlessly venturing into other world cuisines. The rest is history.
Today’s blog post is about my favorite chocolate cake of all times. It is gluten-free, flourless chocolate torte. The recipe is featured in the aforementioned book under the name of Torte au Chocolat. The book’s two authors hail it as a chocolate lovers’ dream. Yet, I would go a bit further to paint it as a chocoholic paradise.
I have branched out and created several versions of the original classic cake, adding and trying different flavoring each time—such as mint extract, cinnamon, coffee, almond just to name a few. It pleasantly exceeds my expectations each time.
This cake version has an Armenian slant since I made it to my daughter’s Armenian class teacher. To honor her nation’s passion for coffee, I added a pinch of freshly ground coffee and a spoonful of coffee liquor, Bailey’s.
Torte au Chocolat is a royal cross between a pudding and a cake. The creamy interior is encased in a gossamer, crispy crust. Faithful to French subtlety, it is barely sweetened not to overpower the coffee and chocolate notes.
When it is time to serve it, pipe some roses of baileys- whipped cream, and drizzle either salted caramel, chocolate syrup or carob molasses, you can’t go wrong with any of these. Enjoy.
Flourless Mocha Torte
Recipe adapted by French: The Secrets of Classic Cooking Made Easy
Serves 6-8 people
- 250 grams semisweet chocolate
- 225 grams unsalted butter
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee or instant coffee granules
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of Bailey’s liquor (optional)
- For decoration
- Chocolate shavings and/or cocoa powder for dusting
- Baileys whipped cream
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of baileys liquor
- To prepare the cake pan: Lightly butter a 9-inch springform and line the bottom and the sides with parchment paper. Wrap the base of the cake pan with two layers of foil to bake it in a bain-marie (water bath).
- To make the cake: Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, over low heat, until smooth. Remove from heat. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until it is light, fluffy and doubled in volume. Mix in cocoa, coffee, vanilla, and Bailey’s liquor, then slowly beat the melted chocolate until well blended. Even the surface out with a spatula to release any air bubbles.
- To bake the cake: Place the cake in a roasting pan and pour in boiling water to come two cms up the sides of the wrapped tin. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the edges separate from the pan walls. Lift the tin out of the water and remove the foil. Let the cake cool completely before placing it in the fridge for three hours or overnight.
- To serve the cake: Remove it from the pan, pipe some roses of Baileys-whipped cream and serve it with a sweet sauce on the side such as Salted caramel, carob molasses, or chocolate sauce.
Baileys Whipped Cream
- Add the whipping cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Turn it on at low speed first for 2 minutes.
- When it gets frothy, increase the speed and add a spoonful of sugar at a time.
- Add the baileys.
- Stop the mixer when soft peaks form.
- Keep it in the fridge and use it to decorate the cake when they are both cold enough.
- The secret of success of this cake is to use the best quality of chocolate you can afford.
- Using free-range eggs is preferable.
- Place the mixer bowl and the whisk attachment in the freezer before whipping the cream for a faster and easier whipping cream experience.