My obsession with tidying up preceded “The Marie Condo” prodigy by a decade.
I iniatially caught the bug of tydying up when I moved to Paris. The City of Light mandated a radical change of life style. 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 a number of 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 of 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 improve. 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 chocolate 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 to 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.
The addition of honey and coffee gives it an edge. When it is time to serve it, feel free to drizzle either salted caramel, chocolate syrup or carob molasses, you can’t go wrong with any of these. My favorite, however, is the bourbon salted caramel. Enjoy!
Flourless Chocolate Cake: Torte Au Chocolat
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
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- For decoration
- Chocolate shavings and/or cocoa powder for dusting
- A sweet sauce of your choice: carob molasses, salted caramel or chocolate sauce
- To prepare the cake pan, Lightly butter a 9 inch springform and line it with parchment paper. Butter the paper and sprinkle it with some cocoa powder. Wrap the base of the cake pan with double thickness of foil as it will bake in a bain-marie.
- To make the cake, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, over low heat, until smooth, then remove from the heat. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Mix in the honey, cocoa, ground coffee, vanilla, and the 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 2 cm up the sides of the wrapped tin. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the edges set and the center is soft. Lift the tin out of the water and remove the foil. Let the cake cool completely before placing it in the fridge for one hour at least.
- To serve the cake, remove it from the pan, pipe some cream roses and serve it with a sweet sauce on the side such as Salted caramel, carob molasses, or chocolate sauce.
- The secret of success of this cake is to use the best quality of chocolate you can afford.
- Using free range eggs is preferable.